The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

As workers’ radiation exposure count rises, shortage of labour predicted at Fukushima nuclear plant

text-radiationflag-japanFears grow over labour shortage at Fukushima nuclear plant, Power Engineering,  20/04/2015 By Tildy Bayar A labour shortage could be in the works for the decommissioning crew at Japan’s Fukushima No 1 nuclear power plant, analysts have warned, potentially putting the project at risk.

According to a weekend report in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, an official at Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said it is “unclear to some extent whether it will be possible to secure enough labour until the decommissioningprocess is completed”. At issue is the number of workers being forced to leave after reaching the legal limit for radiation exposure – 100 millisieverts in five years, or a maximum exposure rate of 50 millisieverts per year – set by the national Industrial Safety and Health Act.  (The International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends that workers receive no more than 20 millisieverts per year over five years.)

Of the plant’s 14,000 registered workers, 174 have reportedly left the plant after reaching the legal limit, and 2081 have received between 50 and 100 millisieverts of exposure. Of the latter group, the Asahi Shimbun said “a majority” have been transferred to lower-exposure positions by their companies before reaching the limit, a common practice once an employee’s exposure reaches 20 millisieverts.

This leaves the coming work – including tasks which need to be carried out within the most radioactive parts of the plant – in doubt……….. Analysts say a long-term plan is needed to keep the project going for the 30-40 years that complete decommissioning is projected to take. Shigeaki Tsunoyama, who heads the Fukushima Prefectural Government’s safety advisory group, told the Asahi Shimbun that “decommissioning will stall” if too many experienced workers hit the exposure limit and leave or are transferred. “The government and Tepco have to take some steps as early as possible,” he warned.

One area being explored by Tepco is the replacement of human workers with robots in radioactive areas of the plant. So far, the utility says it has used robots equipped with cameras to explore the damage inside the reactors. “We are expecting to apply remote techniques further to the operations,” it stated, “such as the decontamination of the high-dose radiation area inside the reactor buildings and the removal of fuel debris from the reactor contaminant vessel or the reactor pressure vessel.”

Next on the agenda for Tepco is removing fuel rods from reactor 3’s spent fuel pool, which is planned to largely involve remote operations in order to limit workers’ exposure. However, some workers will be required to set up the necessary equipment.

April 23, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment

Drone supposedly containing radiation landed on Shinzo Abe’s roof

drone-1Drone containing radiation lands on Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s roof, by Charlie Smith on April 22nd, 2015 Shortly after a Japanese court has approved restarting a shuttered nuclear power plant, an unmanned aerial vehicle landed on the roof of the prime minister’s home.

 The Guardian has reported that the small drone on Shinzo Abe’s residence had “traces of radiation”.

It has sparked discussions in Japan about the prospect of terrorists using drones to launch attacks during the 2020 Summer Games, which will be hosted in Tokyo.

The levels of radiation in this instance were not deemed harmful.

There’s no evidence at this point that the drone was placed there as a protest against Abe’s desire to restart nuclear reactors in Japan.

Public opinion is strongly against the use of nuclear power in Japan four years after a meltdown in Fukushima………

Tokyo police have reportedly revealed that there was a camera on the drone, which was decorated with a sticker carrying a symbol indicating it was radioactive.

“The police also said traces of radioactive cesium were detected on the roof near the drone, though it was unclear if they came from the drone,” the New York Timesreported. “Cesium is not usually found in nature, but large amounts of it were released into the atmosphere during the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.”

April 23, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Court in south-west Japan rejects a residents’ injunction against restarting 2 nuclear power plants

judge-1flag-japanJapan moves nearer to restarting nuclear reactors after court gives go-ahead, Guardian,  in Tokyo, 22 Apr 15  Court in south-west Japan rejects a residents’ injunction against resuming operations at the Sendai power plant apan’s plans to return to nuclear power generation more than four years after the triple meltdown at Fukushima received a boost on Wednesday after a court approved the restart of two nuclear reactors.

The Kagoshima district court in south-west Japan rejected a residents’ injunction against restarting two reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant, bringing the country a step closer to operating a nuclear reactor for the first time since September 2013.

The ruling comes a week after another court sided with concerned residents in a separate case by temporarily blocking the planned restart of two reactors at the Takahama plant on the Japan Sea coast, citing safety concerns.

Hiroyuki Kawai, head lawyer for the plaintiffs, described Wednesday’s ruling as “extremely regrettable”.

He added: “We will not give in, we will continue fighting. We will not let our emotions be swayed by any short-term results and we will fight until we get rid of all nuclear reactors in Japan.”……

Wednesday’s court decision leaves Kyushu Electric Power, the operator of Sendai nuclear power plant, with just one more regulatory obstacle to overcome before it can restart the two reactors, possibly as early as June.

Regulators have said they are “very close” to completing their review of the Sendai reactors’ safety regime.

Once the licensing procedures are complete, the two reactors, which were commissioned in the 1980s, would have to pass a final operational safety inspection before being switched back on, the NRA commissioner, Toyoshi Fuketa, said.

“We need to have a period for inspection and this is the first experience for Kyushu and for us,” he said. “It will take a certain time … it’s quite difficult to say.”

In the latest lawsuit, residents had argued that Kepco and regulators had underestimated the risk posed to the Sendai plant by nearby volcanoes, and that evacuation plans in the event of a Fukushima-type disaster were insufficient.

The plaintiffs said the “ability to predict eruptions is known to be inadequate”, adding there were “no grounds for Kepco’s assertion that the probability of a [volcanic] eruption is low”………

Kansai Electric Power, which serves the huge city of Osaka, faces legal challenges against four of its 11 reactors, and has said it would decommission two reactors.

Tokyo Electric Power, the operators of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi, is hoping to persuade local authorities to approve the restart of Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the world’s biggest nuclear power plant.

Chubu Electric Power, meanwhile, was forced to close its Hamaoka plant in May 2011 owing to its proximity to offshore tectonic plates. The plant is in a region that experts say is at risk of being struck by a powerful earthquake.

April 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Obama keen to sell USA nuclear technology to China

Buy-US-nukesObama proposes 30-year agreement with China on nuclear power WASHINGTON
 (Reuters) 22 Apr – President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed a 30-year agreement to cooperate with China on nuclear power, a deal that would allow the transfer of material, reactors, components and technology between the two nations, if approved by the U.S. Congress.

(Reporting by Roberta Rampton and Jeff Mason!)

April 22, 2015 Posted by | China, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

South Korea hopes new deal with USA will forward its nuclear technology export business

Buy-S-Korea-nukesS. Korea, US strike new civil nuclear deal, Phys Org 22 Apr 15 
South Korea and the United States agreed a new nuclear cooperation pact Wednesday that stopped short of granting Seoul the permission it had sought to start reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.

But Seoul welcomed the deal, saying it provided a framework for improving spent fuel management and boosting nuclear exports. The new pact, which replaces an existing 1974 accord, was struck after four-and-a-half years of intense, drawn-out negotiations.

The main sticking point had been South Korea’s desire to develop uranium enrichment and reprocessing capabilities in order to address concerns about energy security and the management of spent nuclear reactor fuel.

Seoul says its storage facilities for spent fuel will reach capacity in 2016.

Long-standing US policy opposes the spread of such capabilities because they can be used to produce weapons-grade nuclear material and therefore pose a significant proliferation risk.

A South Korean statement on the new deal was short on specific detail but suggested it opened the door to reprocessing sometime in the future, by allowing South Korea to conduct “research” into spent fuel management.

That includes research into “pyroprocessing”—a new technology considered largely proliferation resistant, since the product is thermally and radioactively far too hot to use for a weapon.

“We established a pathway to lift some restrictions on activities in Seoul-owned facilities and to allow certain activities in the future,” the statement from the foreign ministry said……..

The deal was signed by Park and the US ambassador to Seoul, Mark Lippert, and will now go through an internal review process in both countries prior to ratification.

South Korea is a key US military ally and analysts say Washington’s concerns on allowing reprocessing stem less from a distrust of Seoul’s ultimate intentions than from the impact it might have on negotiations with other countries.

There are also worries that wider concessions on reprocessing could further complicate efforts to roll back North Korea’s nuclear programme.

Currently, Japan is the only non-nuclear weapons state that has both the technical capability and international permission to operate a commercial spent-fuel reprocessing programme.

Seoul had argued that allowing Japan to reprocess while denying South Korea the same concessions, smacks of double-standards, but Japan was forced to accept highly intrusive safeguards and, US officials point out, it doesn’t have North Korea on its border.

South Korea is the fifth-largest consumer of nuclear energy in the world, and relies on 23 nuclear reactors to meet about 30 percent of its annual power needs.

It has sought to become a leading exporter of nuclear power plants since it won a $20 billion deal in 2009 to build nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates.

April 22, 2015 Posted by | marketing, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment

The demise of 2 robots inside the Fukushima nuclear disaster

These Robots Are Stranded Inside a Nuclear Disaster BY ADAM PASICKQUARTZ
This month, a Tokyo utility company sent two specially-designed robots on an ill-fated mission into the Fukushima nuclear disaster site to assess the damage.

Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, Tokyo Electric Power Co. is still at work trying to clean up the scene. This month TEPCOsent two specially-designed shape-shifting robots into the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear reactor to assess the damage.

The first of the unnamed snake-like 60 cm (24 in) robots—which use wheels to roll along in a “C” shape and convert to an “I” shape to shimmy through pipes—got stuck after moving about 10 meters (pdf) into the reactor’s ruins on April 10, and was abandoned. The second robot, which took a different route yesterday, completed its mission, but was also abandoned after it suffered damage to its camera from the high radiation levels.

Even if the robots hadn’t been damaged, a Pixar-style “WALL-E” ending was never in the cards: As IEEE Spectrum notes, the robots became so radioactive that they would have been permanently stored in a shielded box if they had returned from their missions.

 Before their demise, the robots—designed by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning and Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy—measured radiation levels of 5.9 sieverts an hour. By comparison, brief exposure to levels of 10 sieverts per hour would cause death within a few weeks for humans.

The anonymous snakebots may be done for, but there is still a vast robot menagerie working on the Fukushima cleanup—including Quince, Packbot, Raccoon, and Rosemary

April 22, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment

Japanese court to rule on injunction to block restart of 2 nuclear reactors

Japan nuclear ruling to show whether legal fight emboldened By Reuters | 21 Apr, 2015,KAGOSHIMA (JAPAN): A Japanese court will rule on Wednesday on an injunction to block the restart of two more nuclear reactors, a decision that could determine whether a legal drive by citizens to prevent the reopening of the sector on safety grounds will gather steam.

The ruling on the Sendai plant could show whether last week’s halting of reopening the Takahama plant over safety concerns was an aberration by an anti-nuclear judge or whether the judiciary has become bolder in supporting .. ……
A three-judge panel is to rule on the injunction request on the Sendai reactors at 0100 GMT.

A court order preventing Kyushu Electric Power Co from operating Sendai would risk tying up the industry in legal battles for months or years.
Last week’s ruling “certainly sets a precedent and it will cause some of the other governors and other courts to think twice” about nuclear, said Michael Jones, Senior Analyst at consultancy Wood Mackenzie,

Local residents who submitted a suit against the restart of the restart of the Sendai reactors argue the utility and regulator has underestimated the risk of nearby volcanoes and operational plans lack credible evacuation measures. …….

opponents are using the courts to block the revival of unpopular nuclear power, especially in areas where they can’t get local governors or mayors to prevent a restart.

Should the injunction request be rejected, as many expect, Japan’s biggest utilities still face the possibility of being forced to mothball their reactors amid mounting legal challenges, Jones said.

“It is not totally unreasonable to think that, to imagine, that the three largest utilities, Tepco, Chubu and Kans ..

April 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Fukushima radiation raises cancer risk for millions of people

Report says 32 million people in Japan are exposed to radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster (PRWEB UK) 11 March 2015  Geneva: Approximately 32 million people in Japan are affected by the radioactive fallout from the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, according to the 2015 Fukushima Report now available from Green Cross. This includes people who were exposed to radiation or other stress factors resulting from the accident, and who are consequently at potential risk from both long and short-term consequences.

The 2015 Fukushima Report is available for download in English at Continue reading

April 22, 2015 Posted by | health, Japan, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Call to Australian and Canadian govts not to sell uranium to India

International call not to sell uranium to India April 15, 2015

QUÉBEC CITY, CANADA: The Australian Conservation Foundation has called on the
India-uranium1Canadian and Australian governments not to further advance controversial plans for uranium sales to India.

The call comes as Australian nuclear free campaigners join Indigenous landowners affected by uranium projects to present at the World Uranium Symposium in Québec.

The conference takes place against the backdrop of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Canada and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s trip New Delhi to advance planned uranium sales.

“Canada and Australia should show responsibility restraint and prudence, as India has been criticised widely over the safety, security and transparency of its nuclear industry,” ACF’s Dave Sweeney said. “Australia and Canada should not rush into uranium sales agreements with India while serious concerns about safety and security remain unresolved.”

Australia’s controversial uranium deal with India has been widely criticised, including by former safeguards director John Carlson, who was for two decades head of Australia’s safeguards regime and was a keen nuclear promoter.  Mr Carlson has raised concernsthat the new treaty’s administrative arrangements could substantially depart from Australia’s usual safeguards conditions, meaning Australia may be unable to keep track of what happens to uranium supplied to India.

Speaking from Québec ACF’s Dave Sweeney called on the Canadian and Australian governments not to further fuel instability in South Asia by selling uranium into the already volatile region.

“Uranium is not like other minerals.  It is the fuel for nuclear weapons and creates carcinogenic waste that lasts for thousands of years,” he said. “Fuelling danger and instability in India is not in the interests of Canada or Australia.”

April 22, 2015 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Canada, India, politics international | Leave a comment

Obama keen to sell USA nuclear technology to China

Buy-US-nukesObama Submits to Congress 30-year Civil Nuclear Power Agreement With China Obama submitted to Congress a 30-year civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and China for approval.

 WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US President Barack Obama submitted to Congress a 30-year civil nuclear cooperation agreement between the United States and China for approval, the White House announced on Tuesday……“It would permit the transfer of material, equipment (including reactors), components, information, and technology for nuclear research and nuclear power production,” he added……

The US Congress has to approve the nuclear cooperation agreement for it to go into effect.

April 22, 2015 Posted by | China, marketing, USA | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear catastrophe goes on – worst may not be over

CBS: Worst may not be over from Fukushima — “Effects of radiation have become much more severe” — “Enormous decline” seen in animal species — “Striking drop-off… really dramatic impacts” due to nuclear disaster (VIDEO)

University of South Carolina
, Apr 15, 2015 (emphasis added): Dwindling bird populations in Fukushima… as several recent papers from University of South Carolina biologist Tim Mousseau and colleagues show, the avian situation there is just getting worse… They recently published a paper in the Journal of Ornithology showing results from the first three years…Many populations were found to have diminished in number as a result of the accident, with several species suffering dramatic declines… What might be most disheartening to the researchers involved, and bird-lovers in general, is how the situation is progressing in Fukushima. Despite the decline in background radiation in the area over these past four years,the deleterious effects of the accident on birds are actually increasing.

Dr. Tim Mousseau, USC biologist: “The declines have been really dramatic… now we see thisreally striking drop-off in numbers of birds as well as numbers of species of birds. So both thebiodiversity and the abundance are showing dramatic impacts in these areas with higher radiation levels, even as the levels are declining.”

CBS News, Apr 16, 2015: Near site of Fukushima disaster, birds still in peril… birds are becoming a rarity around the damaged nuclear site… “There are dramatic reductions in the number of birds”… Mousseau told CBS News. “In terms of barn swallows in Fukushima, there had beenhundreds if not thousands in many of these towns where we were working. Now we are seeing a few dozen of them left. It’s just anenormous decline.”… Around Fukushima, Mousseau predicts the worst may not be over… “So now we see this really striking drop-offin numbers of birds as well as numbers of species of birds. So both the biodiversity and the abundance are showing dramatic impacts in these areas with higher radiation levels, even as the levels are declining.” Mousseau said the reason comes down to the long-term impact of the radiation. “It takes multiple generations for the effects of mutations to be expressed…”

Journal of Ornithology, A. Møller, I. Nishiumi and T. Mousseau, March 2015: Cumulative effects of radioactivity from Fukushima on the abundance and biodiversity of birds… overall abundance and  diversity of species on average decreased with increasing levels of background radiation… the relationship became more strongly negative across years… Although there has been great public interest concerning the ecological, genetic and potential health consequences of the Fukushima radiological disaster, basic research to date has been surprisingly limited… Recent seminal studies of butterflies exposed to radioactive contaminants associated with the Fukushima disaster found strong evidence for increased mutation rates, developmental abnormalities and population effects as a direct consequence of exposure to radionuclides… Murase et al. (2015) made an equally compelling case for radiation having a negative impact on reproductive performance in the decline of Japanese goshawks.

Environmental Indicators (Journal), A. Møller and T. Mousseau, 2015: Many species occur both at Chernobyl and Fukushima, allowing a test of similarity in the effect of radiation on abundance….among the 14 species occurring at both sites [the] slope of the relationship between abundance and radiation for the 14 common species was… much stronger at Fukushima… [Since 2011] the effects of radiation on abundance became much more severe.

Watch the researchers bird counting in Fukushima at a “very hot and quiet site”

April 20, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment

530 Minamisoma residents sue government over hot spot delisting

530 Minamisoma residents sue government over hot spot delisting KYODOSome 530 residents of a city near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant filed a lawsuit Friday demanding that the central government revoke a decision to remove their districts from a list of radiation hot spots, ending their entitlement to handouts… (registered readers only)

April 20, 2015 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Nearly 200,000 Japan documents designated as special secrets in 2014

Some 190,000 documents designated as special secrets in 2014, Mainichi 17 Apr 15  The government had Abe NUCLEAR FASCISMdesignated 189,193 administrative documents as confidential under the state secrecy law as of the end of last year, the Cabinet Secretariat announced on April 17.

This was the first time that the agency released the number of such governmental documents since the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets came into force in December of last year.

According to the Cabinet Secretariat, the documents are owned by 13 ministries and agencies. The actual number of documents designated as special secrets has not been disclosed, however, since the released figure includes duplicated documents that are shared among several ministries and agencies.

The Defense Ministry tops the list of classified document holders, with 60,173 individual documents, followed by the Cabinet Secretariat with 55,829, the Foreign Ministry with 35,783, the National Police Agency with 17,874, the Public Security Intelligence Agency with 9,297, and the Japan Coast Guard with 9,174.

In January, the Cabinet Secretariat announced that 10 ministries and agencies had classified 382 individual pieces of information as special state secrets as of the end of last year — all of which are found within the aforementioned 189,193 documents………

April 20, 2015 Posted by | Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 1 Comment

Damaging effect of prolonged low level radiation, on birds and animals (?us too)

bird barn swallow“There are so few barn swallows left,” Mousseau added. “We know that there were hundreds in a given area before the disaster, and just a couple of years later we’re only able to find a few dozen left.”

“Both the biodiversity and the abundance are showing dramatic impacts in these areas with higher radiation levels, even as the levels are declining.”

For Fukushima Birds, Things are Getting Worse Even as Radiation Abates, Nature World News, By Brian Stallard follow Brian on Twitter @BS_ButNoBS Apr 17, 2015  The destructive earthquake and tsunami that triggered a catastrophe at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant are now four years behind us, but the effects of that disaster are still being felt today. Now a new study has revealed that even as ecosystems slowly recover, Fukushima’s native bird population is actually dwindling more than ever – and researchers think they know why………

“A growing body of empirical results from studies of birds, monkeys, butterflies, and other insects suggests that some species have been significantly impacted by the radioactive releases related to the Fukushima disaster,” Timothy Mousseau, a lead researcher behind one of many ongoing investigations, announced last August.

He explained that a common theme researchers have noticed is that prolonged exposure to low doses of radiation has a very different effect on organisms compared to sudden high-level exposure, as seen at Chernobyl. This came to be called Fukushima’s “insidious effect” and was expected to abate, with lingering radiation levels, by 2016.

Unfortunately, new research detailed in the Journal of Ornithology shows that birds may be facing trouble for even longer. “The declines have been really dramatic,” study author and biologist Tim Mousseau, of the University of South Carolina, said in a recent statement. Continue reading

April 18, 2015 Posted by | environment, Japan | Leave a comment

Nuclear power – a really dirty form of energy – big mistake for Japan to restart it

‘Fukushima lessons: Any notion that nuclear power is clean is obsolete’ : April 17, 2015 The world must phase out nuclear power because it is absolutely not clean from the mining processing of uranium to the generation of high-level radioactive waste, Kevin Kamps for the radioactive waste watchdog Beyond Nuclear, told RT.

It’s been four years since the most powerful earthquake in Japan’s history struck the Fukushima nuclear power plant. All of Japan’s 43 operable reactors have been shut down since 2013, because of safety checks required after the accident. The operator of the nuclear plant has sent a second robot inside the Fukushima reactor to collect data from it. The first robot became immovable after recording some footage from inside the reactor.

RT: Since the disaster, Japan has allocated more than $15 billion to an unprecedented project to lower radiation in towns near the power plant. However few locals believe Tokyo’s assurances that the site will eventually be cleaned up. Do you think their fears are reasonable?

Kevin Kamps: Yes, it is an unprecedented catastrophe. Of course there was Chernobyl, but in this area of Japan – it is so densely populated all over. So when they are trying to clear the landscape down to a certain depth, it is going to be more and more expensive. When you add all of the projects from decommissioning of the nuclear power plant to trying to clean up the landscape to loss of economic activity – we’re talking hundreds of billions of dollars all together. It is going to be very difficult for anything like normal life ever to return there.

RT: In addition to massive radioactive remains, Japan’s greenhouse gas emissions are on the rise following the increase in coal-fired power. Should environmentalists sound the alarm here?

KK: Just in recent days there have been the admissions by high-ranking Tokyo Electric officials that the decommissioning of the nuclear power plant could take more like 200 years because of the lack of technology to do the job. They are going to have to invent all of these robotic systems and engineering processes to try to remove the melted cores at Fukushima Daiichi because that is their current plan unlike Chernobyl with the sarcophagus. The current plan in Japan is to remove those melted cores to somewhere else – perhaps to geologic disposal, they haven’t said. But it is going to be very challenging…………

April 18, 2015 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment


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