Sea water contamination feared at Fukushima plant

Updated 12 July 2013

Sea water contamination feared at Fukushima plant

TOKYO: Japan’s nuclear regulator expressed growing alarm yesterday at increased contamination beside the seafront of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station and urged the plant’s operators to take protective measures.
Fukushima’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), has acknowledged problems are mounting at the plant north of Tokyo, the site of the world’s worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
On Tuesday, the company said radiation levels in groundwater had soared, suggesting highly toxic materials from the plant were getting closer to the Pacific more than two years after three meltdowns triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami.
Shunichi Tanaka, head of the new Nuclear Regulation Authority, told reporters he believed contamination of the sea had been continuing since the March 2011 catastrophe.
“I think contamination of the sea is continuing to a greater or lesser extent,” Tanaka said. “It was contaminated at the time of the accident, but I think it has been continuing for the last two years. Coming up with countermeasures against all possible scenarios is a top priority.”
The NRA “strongly suspected” radiation was contaminating the Pacific, Kyodo news agency said in an earlier report from a weekly NRA commission meeting, citing Tanaka.
In the days after the tsunami, a plume of radiation from explosions fell over wide areas of the land and sea.
Toxic materials, such as caesium, were later found to have leaked through channels in the ground on the side of the station by the sea, prompting expressions of concern from South Korea and China.
Separately, the nuclear power plant chief who had earlier led the life-risking battle to stabilize the cripple Fukushima reactors died of esophageal cancer on Tuesday. Masao Yoshida, 58, died in a Tokyo hospital, TEPCO spokesman Yoshimi Hitosugi said. Officials said his illness was not related to radiation exposure.
The plant, which still runs on jury-rigged systems to cool the reactors, has been plagued by problems, including repeated leaks of contaminated water from storage tanks.

 


Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

Updated 20 October 2020

Duterte: Hold me responsible for killings in Philippines’ drug crackdown

  • ‘If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war’

MANILA: The Philippine president has said he accepts responsibility for the thousands of killings committed during police operations in his crackdown on drugs, adding that he was even ready to go to jail.
President Rodrigo Duterte’s televised remarks Monday night were typical of his bluster — and tempered by the fact that he has pulled his country out of the International Criminal Court, where a prosecutor is considering complaints related to the leader’s bloody campaign.
The remarks were also a clear acknowledgement that Duterte could face a deluge of criminal charges. Nearly 6,000 killings of drug suspects have been reported by police since he took office in mid-2016, but rights watchdogs suspect the death toll is far larger.
“If there’s killing there, I’m saying I’m the one ... you can hold me responsible for anything, any death that has occurred in the execution of the drug war,” Duterte said.
“If you get killed, it’s because I’m enraged by drugs,” said the president known for his coarse and boastful rhetoric. “If I serve my country by going to jail, gladly.”
He said, however, that drug killings that did not happen during police operations should not be blamed on him, alleging that those may have been committed by gangs.
Duterte has made a crackdown on drugs a centerpiece of his presidency. At the height of the campaign — which has often targeted petty dealers and users along with a handful of the biggest druglords — images of suspects sprawled dead and bloodied in the streets were frequently broadcast in TV news reports and splashed on the front pages of newspapers. Tens of thousands of arrests in the initial years of the crackdown worsened congestion in what were already among the world’s most overcrowded jails.
UN human rights experts and Western governments led by the United States have raised alarm over the killings, enraging Duterte, who once told former US President Barack Obama to “go to hell.”
There have been widespread suspicions that police engage in extrajudicial killings in the crackdown, allegations that they and Duterte deny. In 2018, a court convicted three police officers of murdering a 17-year-old student after witnesses and a security video disproved their claim that the suspect was shot after violently resisting, a common reason cited by police officers after drug suspects are killed.
At least two complaints for crimes against humanity and mass murder in connection with Duterte’s campaign are being examined by an ICC prosecutor, who will determine whether there is enough evidence to open a full-scale investigation.
When the complaints were made, Duterte withdrew the Philippines from the world tribunal two years ago in a move that human rights groups said was a major setback in the country’s battle against impunity. The ICC prosecutor has said the examination into the drug killings would continue despite the Philippine withdrawal.
Duterte reiterated his defiance of the court’s probe Monday by asking, when did “drugs become humanity?”
Instead, he framed the drug menace as a national security threat, as he has in the past, comparing it to the communist insurgency that the government has tried to quell for more than a half-century.
“If this is allowed to go on and on and if no decisive action is taken against them, it will endanger the security of the state,” said Duterte, a former government prosecutor.
“When you save your country from the perdition of the people like the NPAs and drugs, you are doing a sacred duty,” he said, referring to communist New People’s Army insurgents.
Police have reported at least 5,856 drug suspects have been killed in raids and more than 256,000 others arrested since the start of the crackdown. Human rights groups have accused authorities of considerably under reporting the deaths.