Wildfires in Namie

Wildfire is raging in the highly radio-contaminated area in Namie, Fukushima prefecture. Japanese authorities are minimizing the radiation risk. It is time to provide information from civil movement point of view. We are publishing here the translation of an article by Suzuki Hiroki, a freelance journalist.

放射能汚染の高い浪江町のエリアで山林火災が猛威を振るっています。日本政府および行政は放射能被曝のリスクを過小評価しています。市民運動の観点から情報を提供するべき時点に差し掛かっていると考えられます。ここにフリーランスジャーナリスト、鈴木博喜さんの記事の翻訳を投稿いたします。

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【74カ月目の浪江町はいま】

What is happening in Namie, the 74th month after the Fukushima Daiichi accident?

帰還困難区域で山林火災、高まる二次拡散の懸念。「これでも〝安全〟か」。避難指示解除急いだ国や町に町民から怒りの声

There is a wildfire in the forest in the “difficult-to-return zone” causing rising concerns about the secondary dispersion of radioactive substances.
“Is it safe?” Voices of rage from the townspeople towards the central and local governments that hurried the evacuation order lifting.

避難指示の部分解除から1カ月が経った福島県浪江町で4月29日、恐れていた山林火災が起きた。しかも発生場所は、浪江町の中でも汚染が特にひどいとされる帰還困難区域。強風と高濃度汚染で消火活動は難航し、1日夜の時点で鎮火に至っていない。「生活環境は概ね整った」と避難指示は解除されたが、今後も放射性物質の二次拡散というリスクと背中合わせの浪江町。消防隊員や帰還住民の内部被曝は防ぎようが無いのが実情で、原発事故の「現実」が改めて浮き彫りになった格好だ。

A forest fire broke out on 29 April in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, where one month had passed since the evacuation orders were lifted from a large part of the town. Moreover, it happened in the “difficult-to-return zone” where radio-contamination is especially high even in Namie town. Strong winds and high concentrations of contamination have made it difficult to fight against the fire and the fire has not been extinguished as of the night of May 1. Although the evacuation orders have been lifted as “the environment for everyday life is sufficiently in order”, it has been made clear that Namie has a perpetual risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials in the future. The fact that there is no means to prevent internal irradiation of firefighters as well as of returning residents brought home again the “reality” of the nuclear power plant accident.

【消防団も現場に近づけず】
[Firefighters cannot get close to the scene]

JR常磐線・浪江駅近くのスポーツセンター。福島県や宮城県のヘリコプターが数分おきに駐車場に着陸する。消火栓とつながれたホースでタンクに水を入れていく。ヘリが飛んで行った方向には、依然として山の稜線から煙が上がっていた。ひと気の無い街にプロペラの音だけが響く。恐れていた山林火災は、4月29日に「浪江町防犯見守り隊」の隊員が浪江消防署に駆け込んでから丸2日が過ぎても鎮火には至らず、放射性物質の二次拡散の懸念は高まるばかり。

At the Sports Center near Japan Railway Joban Line Namie station fire-fighting helicopters in Fukushima and Miyagi prefecture land in the parking lot every few minutes. Water is put in the tanks with the hose connected to the fire hydrant. In the direction where the helicopter flew, smoke was still rising from the ridge of the mountain. Only the sound of the propeller echoes in the city empty of its population. Since April 29, the day when “Namie Town Security Watch Corps” rushed to the fire station, the feared forest fire is still ongoing 2 days later. The concern of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is heightened.

焼失面積は10ヘクタールを超えた。火勢は弱まりつつあるものの、一度「鎮圧」と判断した後に再び火勢が強まった反省から、消防は「鎮圧」、「鎮火」の判断には慎重だ。2日は午前5時過ぎから浪江町の馬場有(たもつ)町長や双葉地方広域市町村圏組合消防本部の大和田仁消防長がヘリで上空から視察するなど対応に追われている。

The burned area has exceeded 10 hectares. Although the fire is weakening, the fire department is cautious in declaring the judgment of “repression” and “extinguishing” of fire, for the fire became strong once again after it was judged being “repressed”. On May 2, since 5:00 am, BABA Tamotsu, the mayor of Namie, and OWADA Hitoshi, head of the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department, have been busy inspecting the area from the sky by helicopter.

火災の発生した「十万山」(標高448.4メートル)は、帰還困難区域に指定されている井手地区にある。浪江町は3月31日に避難指示が部分解除されたが、帰還困難区域は依然として立ち入りが厳しく制限されている。町の消防団も召集されたが現場に近づけない。「登山道の入り口から現場まで徒歩で2時間はかかる」と双葉地方広域市町村圏組合消防本部。なかなか現場が特定できず、ヘリで上空から確認するのと同時に、林野庁・磐城森林管理署職員の案内を受けながら急斜面の道なき道を進んだ。その間も強風であおられた煙が濃霧のように視界をせばめる。しかもただの煙ではない。防護マスクに取り付けた吸収缶の効果は最大でも3時間しか発揮しない。汚染された煙の中での交換は被曝リスクが伴う。隊員の健康を考えれば、やみ雲に原生林を分け入る事も得策では無い。4月30日正午には福島県の内堀雅雄知事から陸上自衛隊第6師団(山形県)に災害派遣が要請された。散水量は、陸自だけで400トンを超える。

“Jyumanyama” (altitude 448.4 meters), where lightning caused the fire, is located in the Ide district, which is designated as a “difficult-to-return zone”. Although the evacuation orders were partially lifted on March 31 from Namie, the “difficult-to-return zone” is still severely restricted from entering. The town’s fire brigade was called up, but its members cannot go close to the scene. It takes two hours on foot from the entrance of the mountain trail to the site, according to the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department. The spot could not be specified easily. As soon as it was localized from the sky by the helicopter, firefighters climbed the steep slopes without trails while receiving the guidance of the Forestry agency and Iwaki Forest management office staff. In the meantime, smoke fueled by strong winds reduced visibility like a dense fog. But it’s not just smoke that is dangerous – there is the danger of radioactivity as well The effect of the absorption can attached to the protective mask only functions up to three hours. The exchange in the contaminated smoke is accompanied by the irradiation risk. Considering the health hazards of the members, it is not a good idea to enter the virgin forest without a discussed plan. On April 30 at noon, UCHIBORI Masao, the governor of Fukushima Prefecture requested to dispatch the 6th Division of the JGSDF (Yamagata Prefecture) for the disaster. The amount of water spray exceeds 400 tons by GSDF alone.

しかし、自衛隊をもってしても放射性物質の二次拡散を止める事は出来ない。それが今回の山林火災の特殊性であり危険性だ。

However, it is not possible to stop the secondary dispersion of the radioactive material even by the SDF. This is the specificity and danger of this forest fire.

photo 1
(Top) At the Namie Regional Sports Center parking lot, fire-fighting helicopters came back one after another for water supply. The extinguishing activity from air is scheduled again on May 2 in the morning.

photo 2
(Middle) From Jyumanyama mountains there was still smoke.
Secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is concerned. (Taken on May 1 around 11 a.m.)

photo 3
(Bottom) Firefighters entered the field in protective gear and masks, but ” practically, there are no means to prevent the exposure to the radiation”.

 

【「隊員の被曝やむを得ない」】
“The radiation of the firefighters is unavoidable”.

「放射性物質の二次拡散は憂慮すべき事だが想定内ですよ。『生活環境は概ね整った』と避難指示は解除されたが、ひとたび山火事が起きればこれです。果たしてこういうリスクを町民に提示した上で国は避難指示を解除したのか。私は国や行政には期待していません。この国はうまくいっているというアピールは得意ですからね。戦時中がまさにそうでした。その意味では『自己責任』なんですよね。自分の身は自分で守るしかないんです」樋渡・牛渡行政区から避難中の40代男性は話す。山林火災に伴う放射性物質の二次拡散について町からの積極的なアナウンスは無く、1日午前10時すぎにようやく、町のメールマガジンで火災の発生と「危険ですので不用意に近づかないようお願いいたします」という注意文が配信された。火災の通報が土曜日の夕方だから、丸1日以上町民へは周知されなかった。「土日は行政が動くのは難しい」と総務課防災安全係。1日午前7時には同様の内容が防災無線で町内全域にアナウンスされたほか、町のホームページにも「山林火災発生のお知らせ」が掲載された。しかし、マスク着用など放射性物質の二次拡散に関する呼びかけは無い。

“The secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is an alarming thing, but it has been expected. Judging that ‘the living environment is generally in order’, evacuation orders have been lifted, but once the wildfire starts, this is what happens. Did the government lift the evacuation orders after presenting these risks to the townspeople? I do not have any confidence in the central government nor in the local administration. They are good at appealing that everything is going well in this country. It was the same during the war. In that sense, it is a system of ‘self-responsibility’. I have no choice but to take care of myself”, said a man in his 40s, who was evacuated from the Hiwatari-Ushiwata administrative district. No active effort to announce the secondary dispersion of radioactive materials associated with forest fires was made by the town. It was delivered at last in the Mail magazine of the town at 10:00 a.m. on May 1. The following warning sentence was diffused: “Please do not approach carelessly, for it is dangerous”. It was not known to the townspeople for more than a full day because the fire report is dated Saturday evening. “The administration is difficult to move on Saturdays and Sundays,” said the General Affairs Disaster Security Division. On May 1 at 7:00 a.m., the same content was announced to the entire neighborhood by the disaster prevention radio, and “Notice of forest fire conditions” was published on the town homepage. However, there was no call for wearing a mask related to secondary dispersion of radioactive materials.

町議会議員にも緊急連絡は入らない。ある議員は「たまたまテレビのニュースで知ったから良いものの、これでは町民に尋ねられても答えられない。帰還困難区域での山林火災は緊急事態なのだから、連絡体制を作るよう求めて行きたい」と話す。

No emergency calls have reached the town council members. A certain council member said, “It is a good thing that I happened to learn about it by the television news. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to answer when questioned by the townspeople about this. I want to request to make a contact system because the forest fire in the “difficult-to-return zone” is an emergency situation.”

この議員は「あくまで個人的意見だが」としながら「煙や灰と共に放射性セシウムが飛散すると想定するのが当然で、本来は消火活動も1平方メートル中にどのくらいの放射性物質があるか測りながら行うべき。しかしそれは現実的では無く、結局は内部被曝を防ぐ事は出来ないと言わざるを得ない」と指摘する。別の議員も「避難指示解除に際してリスクは検討されていなかった。今回の山林火災で逆の意味で危険が立証されてしまった」と議会で取り上げる構え。

This council member says, “it is only a personal opinion, but it is natural to assume that radioactive cesium will scatter with smoke and ash, and the fire extinguishing activity should be carried out while measuring how much radioactive material there is in the one square meter. However, it is not realistic, and I have to say that it is not possible to prevent internal irradiation exposure after all.” Another council member also said, “the risk was not examined when the evacuation order was lifted. The danger has been proven by the forest fire this time.” He is ready to take the matter to the Town Council.

消防隊員の被曝リスクについては、双葉地方広域市町村圏組合消防本部も「汚染物質を持ち出さない事は出来るが、消防隊員の被曝を防ぐ手立ては無い。帰還困難区域内に居る時間を短くする事くらいしか出来ないが、現場に到着するまでに時間がかかり交代も難しい。被曝はやむを得ないというのが実際のところだ」と認めている。これでも「原発事故はアンダーコントロール」だと言えるのだろうか。

As for the irradiation risk of the fire brigade, the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department admit that while they can make a point “not to carry out the contaminated materials from the area”, there is no means to prevent the exposure of the fire brigade member. They can only try to shorten the time of stay in the “difficult-to-return zone”, but in reality it takes time to reach the site, and it is difficult to reach it. We have to admit that the exposure is unavoidable.” I wonder if we can consider the situation as “nuclear accident is under control”?

photo 4

photo 5

photo 6

原発事故前から山林火災に関する注意喚起はされていた。井手地区と同じように帰還困難区域に指定されている津島地区の空間線量は依然として高い。哀しいが、火事が起これば放射性物質が二次拡散される危険性は高い。

There was a warning about forest fires since even before the nuclear accident. The airborne radioactivity of Tsushima District, which is designated as “difficult-to-return zone” like Ide district, is still high. It is sad to say, but the risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials with a fire is high.

 

【モニタリング難しい微粒子】
Difficulty to monitor fine particles

いまのところ、町内外に設置されたモニタリングポストの空間線量に大きな変動は無い。地元メディアもその点を盛んに伝える。だが、南相馬市の市民団体「ふくいち周辺環境放射線モニタリングプロジェクト」の小澤洋一さんは「放射性微粒子は線量計やモニタリングポストで捕らえることができない」と指摘する。山林火災を受けて、同プロジェクトや市民放射能監視センター「ちくりん舎」(東京都西多摩郡日の出町)は浪江町内に数枚の麻布を張った。内部被曝をもたらす微粒子の付着を調べる事で二次拡散状況を数値化できると考えている。

There is no significant fluctuation in the airborne radioactivity measured by the monitoring posts installed inside and outside the town. The local media also actively convey the point. However, Mr. Yoichi Ozawa of the citizen’s group in Minamisoma City, “Fukuichi Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”, pointed out that “radioactive particulates cannot be caught by a dosimeter or monitoring post.” In response to the forest fire, the above Project and the Citizen Radioactivity Monitoring Center “Chikurin-sha” (Hinode Town, Nishitama County, Tokyo) put several linen cloths in the town of Namie. It is thought that the secondary dispersion situation can be estimated by examining the adhesion of the fine particles that cause the internal irradiation.

国も、燃焼による放射性物質の二次拡散については慎重な姿勢で臨んでいる。4月20日に開かれた飯舘村の住民懇談会の席上、内閣府の担当者は野焼きに関し「放射性物質がどのくらい飛散して作物などに付着・移行するのか実験・検証出来るまで野焼きは控えて欲しい」と村民に求めている。避難指示解除を急いだ国の官僚ですら、安全だと断言出来ていないのが現実だ。

The central government also faces a cautious posture about the secondary dispersion of the radioactive materials by combustion. On April 20, at the meeting with the residents of Iitate village the person in charge of the Cabinet Office asked the villagers “not to burn the field until the results of experimentation and analyses about how much radioactive materials scatter and adhere to crops etc. come out.” It is a reality that even the bureaucrats of the central government who rushed the evacuation order lifting are not able to affirm that it is safe.

小澤さんらの調査では、帰還困難区域内にある大堀ダム近傍の落ち葉で昨秋、1キログラムあたり1万7000ベクレルの放射性セシウムが検出されたという。「燃焼で放射性物質は数十倍に濃縮されます。専門家によっては数百倍との指摘もある」と小澤さん。しかし、国も福島県も浪江町も内部被曝に関する注意喚起は一切しない。

According to the research by Mr. Ozawa and his colleagues, radioactive cesium of 17,000 Bq/kg was found in the fallen leaves near the Ogaki dam last autumn in the “difficult-to-return zone”. “The radioactive material is concentrated by several dozen times by burning. Some experts have pointed out hundreds of times”, says Ozawa. However, neither the central government nor Fukushima prefecture nor the Namie town warn about the internal irradiation at all.

「安全安全と言って避難指示を解除したのに、ちっとも安全なんかじゃ無いじゃないか」と70代の町民は怒る。避難指示解除直前の住民懇談会では被曝リスクに関する心配の声が多く出された。中には「心配ばかりしていてもしょうがない。原発事故が起きてしまった以上、これからどうするか前向きに考えないといけない」と話す町民もいるが、残念ながら多くの町民が抱く不安が的中してしまった。しかも、今回の山林火災は落雷による自然発火との見方もある。浪江町は今後もリスクを抱えて行かざるを得ない。火災現場はいまもくすぶり続ける。放射性物質はじわじわと拡散している。

“They lifted the evacuation order saying that it is safe and secure, but it’s not at all,” says a 70 year old resident angrily. A lot of worries about the exposure risk were voiced at the residents consultation meeting just before the lifting of evacuation orders. Some say, “it is useless to worry all the time. Since the nuclear power plant accident has happened, we have to think in a constructive way now”, but unfortunately many townspeople’s worries have become real. Moreover, it’s quite possible that the forest fire was caused by lightning. Namie will have to take the same risks in the future. The fire site continues smoldering. Radioactive materials are slowly spreading.

Published in Taminokoe shimbun, May 2, 2017.

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