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« Welcome to Fukushima » a documentary film by Alain de Halleux

An excerpt of the documentary

I have a friend, from Belgium, Alain de Halleux, he is a movie maker. He is quite famous among the french speaking community because many years ago he made an excellent documentary on Chernobyl (in french).
3 years ago, he went to Japan and also to Fukushima, stayed a few months, and shot a documentary titled “Welcome to Fukushima”.
That documentary is excellent, because:
1. He is not an amateur cameraman but a professional cameraman
2. He interviewed many people evacuees and non-evacuees, so it brings very well the human angle.
3. This is definitely THE BEST documentary I have seen about Fukushima.
Unfortunately that documentary at present has only been distributed in Japan and in European French speaking countries: Belgium, France, Switzerland. It is in Japanese with French subtitles.
I am thinking that this excellent movie should reach the english-speaking countries, so I am now enquiring to some of my contacts, how to find a way to have this documentary distributed in an english-version (to be made) either on TV channels or on a tour.
I want to find a way to make this movie reach many, it is a unique eye opener on Fukushima, this if well distributed, reaching many people, could help awake many, and make a real difference, all the other documentaries I saw about Fukushima do not have the kind of punch that this one has…

He is also very active in renewable energy….helping a wind energy citizen cooperative in Southern Belgium….
He is also now working on a new documentary, about Taro Yamamoto and his fight against nuclear as an independent elected parlement deputy in Japan, Taro Yamamoto being a key figure in the antinuclear movement in Japan….

If any one of you has any suggestion, or contact to help this documentary to be distributed to a larger public in an english version, please send me an email. Thank you.

herve.courtois@yahoo.com

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | 1 Comment

EDITORIAL: Reflections on 2 years without nuclear power ahead of planned restarts

Japan has survived without atomic energy for almost two years since all of the country’s nuclear power reactors were taken offline in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
The country rode out summers and winters, despite surges in electricity demand for air-conditioning and heating purposes, with no major blackouts.
The triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which threatened the very survival of the Japanese state, has yet to be brought under control.
Opinion polls show that more than half of the general public is opposed to restarting nuclear reactors. The public’s desire to keep the reactors offline, even at the cost of inconvenience, is due to the fact that people have learned how dreadful atomic energy can be.
However, the Abe administration is seeking a return to nuclear power. It is preparing to restart Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture in August, and aims eventually to have atomic energy account for 20 percent or more of Japan’s electricity mix in the future.
We oppose any return to nuclear power that comes without serious debate. Japan should make utmost efforts to avoid restarts, while at the same time taking care that doing so will not place an onerous burden on people’s living standards. Our energy needs should be centered on renewable energy sources rather than nuclear power as the primary source of electricity.
POWER DEMAND ALREADY COVERED
The Asahi Shimbun published a series of editorials in 2011 calling for a society free of nuclear power.
We stated that all of Japan’s nuclear reactors should be decommissioned, hopefully in 20 to 30 years, with priority given to aged reactors and high-risk reactors. The reactors to be kept alive should be selected on a “safety first” basis and limited to those necessary from the viewpoint of supply and demand.
We also stated that Japan should do its best to develop and spread the use of renewable energy sources while simultaneously pursuing measures for power saving and energy conservation. Thermal power generation could be strengthened as a stopgap measure, although steps should be sought in the long term so that a departure from nuclear energy does not contribute to global warming.
We also said Japan should push forward with power industry reform to encourage new entrants into the market while moving toward a decentralized energy society where wisdom and consumer choice play a greater role.
Our basic ideas remain the same. But the situation has changed over the last four years.
The most dramatic development is that the amount of electricity generated by nuclear reactors is now zero.
Nuclear reactors were up and running across Japan four years ago. They were subsequently taken offline one after another for regular inspections. Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture was reactivated temporarily, but no single nuclear reactor has been brought back online since September 2013.
Despite concerns that were raised, no serious power shortages occurred. Emergency power sources were raked up to stave off a crisis on some occasions, but there has always been sufficient supply to cover demand, partly because the practice of saving power has taken root in the public mind, and partly also because capacities were enhanced at thermal power plants and regional utilities cooperated in supplying power to each other.
But it is too early to say that we have a solid foundation for keeping the number of active nuclear reactors at zero.
The clustered siting of power plants, whereby electricity is sent from large-scale power stations to faraway areas with heavy power consumption areas, has remained unchanged after the nuclear disaster. Systemic vulnerability is still an issue. And there is always the danger of unforeseen circumstances unfolding if a key thermal power plant were to malfunction during peak power demand.
SYSTEMIC VULNERABILITY PERSISTS
The current situation, where thermal power accounts for 90 percent of Japan’s electricity, could hardly be called sustainable. As long as Japan relies on imports for its energy sources, the country will remain permanently exposed to the risk of variations in foreign exchange rates and prices.
We are also left to reflect on the extent to which the general public and the Japanese economy could tolerate additional increases in electricity rates. We have to avoid letting rate hikes, without detailed studies, have a serious impact on people’s living standards and general economic activity.
The risk of a serious impact on people’s lives has yet to be reduced to zero. Given the situation, it is difficult to totally rule out the option of restarting nuclear reactors as a last resort.
However, decisions on restarting individual nuclear reactors must be made with extreme care.
What kind of disadvantage could be averted by activating a particular nuclear reactor? Will a nuclear restart still be necessary after power demand has been covered by a mutual supply of electricity over broad areas? Persuasive explanations should be available from viewpoints such as these.
The nuclear reactor in question must be safe enough from the viewpoint of its geographical location. Means must also be available to allow residents of adjacent areas to evacuate in an emergency. These are obvious preconditions for a nuclear restart.
The fact that we have got along without nuclear power has correspondingly heightened the hurdles for a restart.
Japan, under these circumstances, must develop renewable energy sources as quickly as possible and pursue a shift to a distributed system of electric power. Indispensable to that end are policy initiatives for guiding a switch to the new direction.
The central government should set a pathway for reform and focus its resources on upgrades on the power grid, disposal of nuclear waste and other efforts. There should also be organizational arrangement for pursuing the decommissioning of nuclear reactors, assistance to local governments that will lose revenue from the nuclear plants they host, and transitional measures for business operators associated with nuclear power generation.
FUKUSHIMA DISASTER THE STARTING POINT
The Abe administration, however, is heading in the opposite direction.
It initially said it would reduce Japan’s dependence on nuclear energy as much as possible, but then changed course to maintaining nuclear plants, and left it all up to the Nuclear Regulation Authority to make all decisions on the safety of nuclear reactors ahead of any go-aheads for restarts.
The NRA is tasked only with screening procedures to ensure the safe operation of nuclear power plants. It is not in any way responsible for the entire policy.
The administration told local governments hosting nuclear plants that the central government will be responsible, but what precisely this entails remains to be seen. A mountain of unanswered questions remain about the Sendai nuclear plant, such as measures to ensure the safety of local residents and measures against potential volcanic eruptions.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster should be the starting point for reflecting on the issue of nuclear power generation.
We should think about ways to make the most of the fact that no nuclear reactor is active now.
Source : Asahi Shimbun
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/editorial/AJ201507300035

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Discharge Canal Contamination Rising in Fukushima Daiichi

Tepco reports that contamination levels in the unit 1 discharge canal has been rising significantly….

*Cesium 137 was at 91,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 110,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 24th.
*Cesium 137 was at 79,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 94,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 22th.
*Cesium 137 was at 28,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 36,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 15th.
*Cesium 137 was at 29,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 37,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 13th.
*Cesium 137 was at 20,000 bq/liter Beta radiation was at 26,000 bq/liter Both readings taken July 10th.
Tepco also admitted that subdrain pit #16 has seen a rise in contamination since May
Why either of these locations are now rising does not yet have a definitive cause. Work to concrete in the sea front trenches at the plant could be pushing contaminated water to take other routes. The freezing in progress of the frozen wall could be having an impact on the migration of contaminated water.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Removal of debris in reactor 3 spent fuel storage to start

Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Sunday will start the removal of a fuel exchanger inside the Number 3 reactor building. The 20-ton device fell into the fuel pool during the 2011 disaster.

The device has since been a major obstacle for workers at Tokyo Electric Power Company in the start of removal of extremely radioactive rubble left in the storage pool. 566 fuel rods remain inside the spent fuel pool.

Workers cannot directly take part in the process as the site is highly radioactive. The work will require 2 remote-controlled cranes that will lift and remove the device, which is some 14 meters long.

The work poses a challenge as spent fuel may suffer damage if the device falls back into the pool during removal.

Workers accidentally dropped a 400-kilogram device into the pool last August. Though none of the rods suffered damage, removal was postponed for 4 months.

TEPCO has been preparing for the removal by developing equipment tailored to grip the device. Cushions have also been placed on top of the fuel rods.

TEPCO officials say all other work to decommission the plant will be suspended while the removal takes place as a hydrogen explosion in 2011 left the pool without a roof.
Source : NHK
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150730_05.html

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima buildings sinking — Structures decaying, getting more unstable

fuk buildings sinking july 29 2015

Tepco handout (pdf), summary translation by Fukushima Diary, Jul 21, 2015 (emphasis added): Tepco announced Fukushima plant area has irregularly sunk since 311… The report reads Reactor 1 turbine building sank by 730 mm [2.40 ft], Reactor 2 by 725 mm, Reactor 3 by 710 mm, Reactor 4 by 712 mm.

IAEA Headquarters (pdf), 2015: We know that the buildings will decay and become less stable… there is the dilemma of 1) gathering more information… and 2) acting earlier and maybe not having enough information to make good decisions.

IAEA Nuclear Energy Series (pdf), 2014: The impact of the salt on the corrosion of structural materials had to be assessed and measures taken accordingly to retain integrity.

Lake Barrett, Tepco adviser (pdf): Reactor building structure has likely been degraded… Explosions Weaken RB Structure… Aftershock May Cause Building Failure — Issues: … Aftershock Structural Integrity… — Safety Challenges: … Containment Degradation

US National Research Council, 2014: Substantial structural damage occurred… particularly Units 3 and 4… The explosions [were] extremely destructive. The complex structure of the lower part of the reactor buildings is well suited to cause flame accelerationIronically, having a strong structure with multiple compartments can greatly enhance the damage… this result, although not intuitive, is now well established.

Kazuhiro Suzuki, IRID managing director (pdf), 2014: Estimation of structural strength decline by sea water inflow; Evaluating device/structural integrity and remaining life…

Sugiura Machine Design Office: We obtained results [using a] flying robot. We already have started to work on plant deterioration investigation with major manufacturer.

IRID 2014 Annual Symposium (pdf):

  • p. 94: Assessing structural integrity of RPV/PCV… data on corrosion rate will be collected… to evaluate aseismatic strength, taking into consideration long-term wall thinning by corrosion… stainless steel [components] may already be cracked
  • p. 95: Overall structural integrityBuilding behavior analysis (building damage simulation)… Influence of corrosion [and] high-temperature strength deterioration
  • p. 98: Structural integrity of PCV structures… Corrosion wall thinning… Estimated thinning of Unit 1 dry well [and] suppression chamber… Generated stress… of the suppression chamber support structures was higher [than allowable]reinforcement (such as burying the torus chamber with cement materials, etc.) will be studied
  • p. 99: Structural integrity of RPV pedestalinfluences of corrosion by molten fuel debris are not taken into account and further study is needed

Shunichi Suzuki, TEPCO, IRID 2014 Annual Symposium:

  • Part 6: “One more important point I need to cite is to assure the stability of the site… because of the presence of the ocean water, corrosion could take placepreventative measures against the corrosion need to be taken.
  • Part 85-87: “Next is assessing structural integrity of RPV and PCV [and] get qualitative data of corrosion rate. There is sea water injected so corrosion may gradually proceed… To be prepared against future possible earthquakes we have to evaluate whether this is tolerant or not… We must consider corrosion.”
  • Part 91: “PCV [integrity] is generally alright, but in some parts — for instance the column support of the suppression chamber — it [doesn’t meet standards].”
  • Part 92: “This is the pedestal of RPV… The molten debris may be causing corrosion.”

Source:

Status of R&D Projects Related to Debris Fuel emoval

http://www.svpcloud.jp/systems/st/contents/01193rly/

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | 1 Comment

Tepco’s Quarterly Profit Triples Subsidized by The Japanese Govement at the Expenses of the Taxpayers

Hey Tepco. You have made steady profits since 2012 when the Taxpayers bailed you out. How about you spend that money and DO something about your 3 melting reactors? Or give it to the hundreds of thousands of people whos lives you have totally destroyed.
No. That would be the proper thing to do. Can’t have that. 

Tepco is making steady profits since 2012 while still receiving money from the Japanese Government, shouldered by the Japanese Taxpayers:

Japan approves increase in Fukushima compensation to $57 billion

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan on Tuesday approved an increase in compensation payments for the Fukushima crisis to 7.07 trillion yen ($57.18 billion), as tens of thousands of evacuees remain in temporary housing more than four years after the disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, will receive 950 billion yen more in public funds on top of the 6.125 trillion agreed earlier, the utility and the government said.

Tepco’s Quarterly Profit Triples as Fuel Prices Plunge

Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, said first-quarter operating profit tripled as a drop in fuel prices helped cut costs.

Tepco, as Japan’s biggest utility is known, posted an operating profit of 228.3 billion yen ($1.85 billion) for the three months ended June 30, compared with 70.7 billion yen a year ago, the company said in a statement Wednesday.

The company benefited from a more than 45 percent plunge in liquefied natural gas prices after crude oil fell to a record low. More than a third of Tepco’s power generation capacity comes from LNG, compared with 14 percent from oil and 8 percent from coal.

Factoring in the impact of a weaker yen, the plunge in oil prices alone boosted current profit by 276 billion yen, Tepco said.

“With the drop in the price of crude and a minimization of costs, the operating profit is in the black for the second year in a row,” the company said in the statement.

Fuel Spending

Tepco spent 35 percent less on LNG purchases in the first quarter, while consumption of the fuel fell by 5 percent. The company’s spending on crude oil rose by 7.5 percent, while its use was up 25 percent, the company said.

The utility’s purchases of coal rose 4.9 percent to 1.75 million metric tons, resulting in a 3.9 percent increase in spending on the fuel.

Indonesia was Tepco’s largest crude supplier last year, while Australia was the top coal provider.

Total sales dipped 1.1 percent to 1.55 trillion yen as the company generated 6 percent less capacity in the quarter.

Japan’s power consumption dropped 1.8 percent in the quarter from a year earlier, the fifth straight quarterly decline, to 189 terawatt hours, according to industry figures. That’s the lowest quarterly use since 2000.

With Tepco struggling to win approval to restart its nuclear reactors, the drop in fuel costs provides relief.

In June, the price of LNG imported into Japan dropped to $7.60 per million British thermal units, the lowest level in two years. Power utilities with a high ratio of LNG will see an increase in profits, Syusaku Nishikawa, an analyst at Daiwa Securities Co., said by e-mail.

Tepco’s first-quarter net income was 203.3 billion yen, compared with a net loss of 173 billion yen a year ago. The company’s net income is influenced by costs related to the payout to those affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident more than four years ago.

Source:  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-29/tepco-s-first-quarter-profit-triples-as-fuel-prices-cut-costs

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | 1 Comment

Intensive Focus on Profits Amplifies Financial and Operational Risks

The nuclear complex is organized around money and the seduction of absolute power over matter. The profit motive seems greater today than the latter organizing principle, as illustrated by relentless pressures on profitability at Toshiba, a company that includes nuclear engineering in its portfolio:

Toshiba execs, staff say they were under pressure to achieve high profits http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20150722p2a00m0na011000c.html

Current and former executives and high-ranking employees at the Toshiba group say its various divisions had been under enormous pressure from top board members to achieve unreasonably high profit goals, forcing them to pad their profits.

“I never want to go back to such a life,” said a man, who once served as president of a subsidiary of Toshiba Corp. that is under fire for padding profits through accounting irregularities….

A report released by a third-party panel that investigated the profit overstating scandal describes in detail how Tanaka and other top-ranking executives set unreasonably high profit goals — called a “challenge” — for each division and subsidiary and forced those responsible to pad their profits through accounting irregularities….

The crisis at the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant that broke out in March 2011 also contributed to Toshiba executives’ excessive pursuit of profits.

Toshiba’s nuclear plant division, which executives regarded as a key division that would grow steadily, suffered a setback following the outbreak of the disaster. “We had thought that the division’s future would be rosy but it began to take a thorny path,” a high-ranking official of Tohiba says.

Majia here: The relentless pursuit of profit (i.e., greed) infuses the entire nuclear industry.

Today, aging nuclear plants are being “up rated” and having their lives extended far beyond design specifications so that utilities and government do not have to face the problems and prohibitive costs of nuclear decommissioning.

Risks from accidents, particularly from uprating (U.S. is increasing nuclear power through uprating.( see Alan Zarembo and Ben Welsh, Los Angeles Times April 17, 2011,http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/17/local/la-me-uprates-20110418).

Tiny uprates have long been common. But nuclear watchdogs and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s own safety advisory panel have expressed concern over larger boosts — some by up to 20% — that the NRC began approving in 1998. Twenty of the nation’s 104 reactors have undergone these “extended power uprates.”

…In an uprated reactor, more neutrons bombard the core, increasing stress on its steel shell. Core temperatures are higher, lengthening the time to cool it during a shutdown. Water and steam flow at higher pressures, increasing corrosion of pipes, valves and other parts…

“This trend is, in principle, detrimental to the stability characteristics of the reactor, inasmuch as it increases the probability of instability events and increases the severity of such events, if they were to occur,” the Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, which is mandated by Congress to advise the NRC, has warned.

Majia here: Aging nuclear plants are routinely spewing tritium into the environment:

‘75% of nuke sites leaking tritium, AP report finds Half have parts exceeding drinking water standard’, Http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/jun/26/75-of-nuke-sites-leaking-tritium-ap-report-finds/?print=1

Nuclear accidents are far more likely than past predictions and human greed is increasing the likelihood of accidents every day.

Source: Majia’s Blog

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2015/07/intensive-focus-on-profits-amplifies.html

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Tepco started removing the cover of Reactor 1 building

2-Photo-Tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-Reactor-1-building july 29 2015

According to Tepco, they started removing the main part of cover of Reactor 1 on 7/28/2015.

They announced that there was no significant change in dust monitoring data and radiation monitoring post readings.

The former Fukushima worker “Happy11311″ commented on Twitter that the high level of contamination might be retained on the ground floor with rain after they take the cover away.

2-Photo-Tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-Reactor-1-building july 29 2015 2

2-Photo-Tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-Reactor-1-building july 29 2015 3

2-Photo-Tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-Reactor-1-building july 29 2015 4

Sources:
http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150728_07-j.pdf
http://photo.tepco.co.jp/date/2015/201507-j/150728-01j.html
https://twitter. com/Happy11311/status/625634149794123776
http://fukushima-diary.com/2015/07/photo-tepco-started-removing-the-cover-of-reactor-1-building/

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Problem for Modular Nuclear Reactors – they’re just as costly as the old ones

text-SMRsPrefab Nuclear Plants Prove Just as Expensive Modular method has run into costly delays and concerns about who will bear the brunt of the expense., WSJ,  By  REBECCA SMITHJuly 27, 2015

Building nuclear reactors out of factory-produced modules was supposed to make their construction swifter and cheaper, leading to a new boom in nuclear energy.

But two U.S. sites where nuclear reactors are under construction have been hit with costly delays that have shaken faith in the new construction method and created problems concerning who will bear the added expense.

“Modular construction has not worked out to be the solution that the utilities promised,” said Robert B. Baker, an energy lawyer at Freeman Mathis & Gary LLP in Atlanta and former member of the Georgia Public Service Commission, the state utility authority.

The new building technique calls for fabricating big sections of plants in factories and then hauling them by rail to power-plant sites for final assembly. The method was supposed to prevent a repeat of the notorious delays and cost overruns that marred the last nuclear construction cycle in the 1980s.

It hasn’t worked. Georgia Power Co., a unit of Southern Co. that is building one of the nuclear power plants, reports that construction is three years behind schedule, although it is making steady progress.

“The promise of modular construction has yet to be seen,” said Joseph “Buzz” Miller, executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power. The Georgia plant’s delay will increase the project’s financing costs, potentially adding $319 annually to each residential bill, according to the public interest advocacy staff of the state utility commission. The utility is seeking to recover $778 million in total added financing costs from vendors. It hopes customer bills won’t rise more than 8% to pay for the plant.

Georgia Power expects to spend $7.5 billion for its 46% share in the Vogtle power plant, which is adding two nuclear reactors adjacent to an existing plant near Waynesboro, Ga. That tab is $1.4 billion higher than the spending limit state regulators approved in 2009.

The cost of the V.C. Summer plant that South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. is building near Jenkinsville, S.C., now stands at $6.8 billion for the company’s 55% stake, up $1.1 billion from a 2012 estimate. The company recently agreed to trim its profit margin on the project if regulators approve a revised construction schedule and cost estimate. The commission heard testimony last week but has yet to rule………

U.S. utilities proposed building more than two dozen reactors five years ago before the shale-gas revolution drove down the price of natural gas and made plants that burn gas a more attractive option for the power industry. Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it was folding a division to manage construction of new reactors back into the division from which it was pulled a few years ago, acknowledging a nuclear renaissance hasn’t materialized. Write to Rebecca Smith at rebecca.smith@wsj.com  http://www.wsj.com/articles/pre-fab-nuclear-plants-prove-just-as-expensive-1438040802

July 29, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Independent assessment of the state of the nuclear industry

radiation-sign-sadWhat is spectacular is the extent to which the nuclear industry and many decision-makers are appearing to ignore the financial and technical realities of 2015, and the generalized move toward decentralized electricity generation and storage. The industry’s track record of delays and cost overruns, coupled with the urgency of replacing fossil fuels with efficiency improvements and low-carbon sources of energy, do not bode well for the long-term future of the industry.

highly-recommendedDeconstructing the nuclear industry, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 27 July 15   Mycle Schneider Antony Froggatt Released on July 15, the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2015 (WNISR 2015)  is the latest independent assessment of nuclear energy trends in a series first published in 1992. This year’s report comes at a time when most energy and environmental experts shy away from the words “nuclear renaissance” but some view nuclear power as an indispensable substitute for fossil fuels in global efforts to combat climate change. Current trends, however, suggest that a rapid ramp-up of nuclear power is unlikely, and that renewable energy is surging past nuclear power in many countries. Here are a few of the report’s key findings: Continue reading

July 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | 2 Comments

Fukushima compensation increased to 7.07 trillion yen

flag-japanJapan increases Fukushima compensation to US$57 billion, Malaysian Insider,  28 July 2015 Japan on Tuesday approved an increase in compensation payments for the Fukushima crisis to 7.07 trillion yen (RM218 billion), as tens of thousands of evacuees remain in temporary housing more than four years after the disaster.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the operator of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station, will receive 950 billion yen (RM29 billion) more in public funds on top of the 6.125 trillion agreed earlier, the utility and the government said.

The increase, agreed after a request by Tepco, adds to the bill for taxpayers for the disaster in March 2011, when three reactors melted down after an earthquake and tsunami, in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986, destroying businesses and livelihoods….

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government and Tepco, which was bailed out by taxpayers in 2012, are undertaking an unprecedented cleanup to lower radiation levels in towns closest to the plant, although some areas will likely remain off limits for decades.

Inside the plant, Tepco has struggled to bring the situation under control and it is estimated removing the melted fuel from the wrecked reactors and cleaning up the site will cost tens of billions of dollars and take decades to complete.

The government plans to revoke evacuation orders for most people forced from their homes by the disaster within two years as part of a plan to cap compensation payouts and speed up reconstruction. – Reuters, July 28, 2015.  http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/world/article/japan-increases-fukushima-compensation-to-us57-billion#sthash.NtMaDGfW.dpuf

July 29, 2015 Posted by | Japan, politics | 1 Comment

New and very dangerous nuclear bomb in USA’s arsenal

missile-risingThis new nuclear-armed US bomb may be the most dangerous weapon in America’s arsenal, Business Insider,JEREMY BENDER, 27 July 15  The US just introduced a new type of bomb into its already extensive arsenal, and it may just be the most alarming US weapon yet, Zachary Keck writes for The National Interest.

The new bomb is the B61-12. On its surface, the bomb does not appear to be as dangerous as other weapons in the US arsenal. Although the B61-12 is nuclear-armed, it has a yield of 50 kilotons — tiny compared to the largest nuclear bomb that the US possesses, which has a yield of 1,200 kilotons.

But as Keck notes, that difference in explosive power doesn’t tell the entire story.

“What makes the B61-12 bomb the most dangerous nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal is its usability,” Keck writes. “This usability derives from a combination of its accuracy and low-yield.”…….http://www.businessinsider.com.au/this-bomb-may-be-the-most-dangerous-in-us-arsenal-2015-7

July 29, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ocean food chain affected as acidity impacts phytoplankton

phytoplankton diatomsOcean acidification is impacting phytoplankton now http://www.enn.com/wildlife/article/48810  Steve Williams, Care2, July 26, 2015 Scientists are warning that ocean acidification is impacting microorganisms in our ocean known as phytoplankton and, as they pay a key role in ocean habitats, any future loss or change in species numbers could impact marine life in a big way.

Ocean acidification isn’t always mentioned in conjunction with phytoplankton blooms, and the U.S. Government has been slow to link the two, but MIT researchers say acidification of our oceans could impact phytoplankton in a big way, and that will be bad news for our marine life.

Publishing in the journal Nature Climate Change, the scientists say their research shows that ocean acidification–where our oceans absorb gasses like carbon dioxide and sulphor dioxide that are released during the burning of fossil fuels–will increase to such an extent that by 2100 several species of phytoplankton will die out, robbing several larger marine species of a vital food source, while other phytoplankton species will rapidly increase in number, threatening the delicate balance of marine habitats and even potentially threatening the bird populations that depend on marine life.

According to the National Ocean Service (NOAA), phytoplankton are organisms that function in much the same way as the plants we see around us. They contain chlorophyl and depend on sunlight. For that reason they tend to float close to the surface of the water where they can get as much sunlight as possible. They also take in nutrients like nitrates, phosphates and sulfur.

In marine environments phytoplankton play a key role and are a food source for a number of species, from tiny animals like shrimp and snails, all the way up to jellyfish and even whales.

July 29, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Even USA’s nuclear lobby has doubts about “next generation” nuclear reactors

Could Next-Gen Reactors Spark Revival In Nuclear Power?, National Geographic  By Wendy Koch, JULY 24, 2015 Tech titans like Bill Gates are helping fund a new generation of commercial nuclear reactors,………..These are complex systems…They look good on paper but could be difficult to realize in practice.

Gates'-travelling-Wave-Nucl
Matthew McKinzie  
“These are complex systems,” says Matthew McKinzie, director of the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that prefers solar, wind and energy efficiency—rather than nuclear—as climate solutions.

“They look great on paper but could be difficult to realize in practice,” he says of the advanced reactors. “A lot of projects in the past have led to disappointment.” He says reactors that don’t use the light-water design common in today’s nuclear power plants will need prototypes for testing and their private funds aren’t enough to cover the cost.

In addition, “molten salt is corrosive and messy to work with,” says McKinzie, who holds a doctorate in experimental nuclear physics..

Russ Bell, senior director of new plant licensing for the Nuclear Energy Institute says many new reactor designs are safe and “extremely innovative,” but since they need to be prototyped, it will take 20 to 25 years to bring them to market……

Bill Gates has visited China several times to seek its cooperation in developing a next-gen reactor. He chairs TerraPower, which has designed a traveling wave reactor that runs on depleted uranium and produces very little nuclear waste……

“It’s American technology. I personally want the United States to get it first,” says Leslie Dewan. Her company, Transatomic, plans five more years of experimental and design work before aiming to build a 20-megawatt prototype.

“We’ve been talking with the national labs about it,” she says, noting the Department of Energy has a new loan guarantee program for advanced nuclear reactors. “There’s really good buy-in from DOE for developing a wide range of technologies.”

Even if all goes well, Dewan says, it will take at least a decade to develop a commercial molten salt reactor.

July 29, 2015 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

USA to sell nukes to China. Profit for corporations versus national security

questionCongress’s Other Nuclear Test A pending 30-year deal with China requires oversight too. WSJ 26 July 15  “……The deal’s basic purpose is to allow China to keep buying nuclear power plants from U.S. suppliers such as Westinghouse Electric, a slice of bilateral trade responsible for thousands of U.S. jobs, according to industry estimates. Yet civil-nuclear business carries proliferation risks, as technology used in power plants can also serve various military purposes.

Republican Senators Marco Rubio and Tom Cotton oppose the deal given China’s record of proliferating to Iran, North Korea and Pakistan. China has also secretly diverted U.S.-produced nuclear-reactor cooling pumps to make its naval submarines more quiet and therefore more stealthy, as confirmed in Congressional testimony by Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Countryman in May. Such diversion violated China’s commitment to “peaceful use” of imported nuclear technology……..

A House amendment to the defense spending bill would require that the DNI and the Chief of Naval Operations weigh in on interagency approvals of future civil-nuclear sales to China, with the aim of mitigating risks of military diversion.

The Nuclear Energy Institute and other industry lobbyists protest that this provision would add needless bureaucratic review. …http://www.wsj.com/articles/congresss-other-nuclear-test-1437910661

July 29, 2015 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

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