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Former Fukushima teacher blogs to inspire students while fighting off cancer

xOct 19, 2014
The former vice principal of a junior high school in Fukushima Prefecture has been encouraging his former students by blogging while undergoing 11 years of treatment for cancer.Yuki Sanbonsugi, 55, who fled to Koriyama after his hometown, Futaba, was evacuated to escape the radiation from the core meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, became a junior high school teacher in 1981, after graduating from Senshu University.He has taught classes in Iitate, Iwaki, Minamisoma, Katsurao, Namie and Tomioka — villages, towns and cities all close to the No. 1 power plant.

Eleven years ago, when he was vice principal of Tomioka Dai-ichi Junior High School, he was diagnosed with malignant lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, and decided to quit to concentrate on treatment.

Although he could not return to teaching, he gave lectures at schools and community centers to convey his thoughts on the importance of life.

In March 2011, the nuclear crisis forced Sanbonsugi to flee to several places in the prefecture, including the town of Furudono and the cities of Aizuwakamatsu and Koriyama, and even to Hokkaido.

Despite his hardships, he kept thinking about all the students he had taught. He was worried they might be in the throes of despair with their futures still unclear 3½ years into the nuclear crisis, or on the verge of giving up on returning to their hometowns.

“I want to support former students who are living as evacuees as much as I can,” said Sanbonsugi, who avidly updates his blog.

“Rather than grieving over what you cannot do, just simply do something you can do. Then, quietly wait for spring to come,” he recently wrote.

Hidefumi Sanpei, 35, one of his former students, works for the Tomioka Municipal Government, which ordered a full evacuation in light of the Fukushima No. 1 meltdowns. As an official in charge of residential support, he helps evacuees deal with their worries and sometimes gets a tongue-lashing in the process.

As an evacuee himself supporting a wife and two children in new surroundings, Sanpei often got fed up with the work and his longing for his hometown.

He said Sanbonsugi’s blog gives him the courage to move forward. One phrase he always keeps in mind is: “Under the same sky, each one of us is living life to the fullest.”

Natsumi Yoshida, 33, who was one of Sanbonsugi’s students at Katsurao Junior High School, now teaches at a special needs school attached to Fukushima University. When the village of Katsurao was forced to evacuate, her former classmates were scattered all over the country.

Yoshida said she hopes to convey to her students a message she read in Sanbonsugi’s blog: “Planting seeds of kindness on the hearts of each and every one of us.”

This section, appearing every third Monday, focuses on topics and issues covered by the Fukushima Minpo, the largest newspaper in Fukushima Prefecture. The original article was published on Oct. 4.

Source: Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/19/national/former-fukushima-teacher-blogs-to-inspire-students-while-fighting-off-cancer/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=former-fukushima-teacher-blogs-to-inspire-students-while-fighting-off-cancer

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

With nuclear plant idled, townsfolk in better position to chart future course

AJ201410180015M Onagawa town assembly member Mikiko Abe stands against the backdrop

of Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa nuclear power plant.

October 18, 2014

POINT OF VIEW/ Mikiko Abe:

ONAGAWA, Miyagi Prefecture–As an opponent of atomic energy, I have watched this town for more than four decades–from before Tohoku Electric Power Co. began constructing the Onagawa nuclear power plant here.

It is my hope that our town can stand on its own without the massive subsidies associated with the installation of nuclear reactors and fixed asset taxes paid by the power utility. It’s not about asking if we can revert to that state of things. I believe we have to do it now.

I live in temporary housing because my home was swept away by the tsunami generated by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

I was elected to the town assembly eight months after the March 2011 disaster, which claimed the lives of some of my fellow activists. In the hope of conveying their anti-nuclear message to younger generations, I ran in the assembly election as an independent candidate.

The disaster left nearly 10 percent of Onagawa’s 10,000 population dead or missing, and nearly 90 percent of homes here were damaged. Some residents believe that a restart of the nuclear plant is essential for rebuilding the town.

Around 1970, when the Onagawa plant had yet to be built, local fishermen banded together to express opposition to the nuclear facility. Thousands took part in a protest rally held near the seashore. About 10 buses, each with 50 seats, arrived from a neighboring town to join it.

But Tohoku Electric began approaching nuclear opponents and secured agreement to engage in small talk from some people. They included, for example, owners of large fishing vessels that operated far from coastal waters. They had large crew and held senior positions in the local fishermen’s union.

There is no significant opposition movement in Onagawa now.

I studied at a university in Tokyo after I graduated from senior high school. I took an interest in the issue of Minamata disease (caused by mercury pollution) and joined a sit-in outside the head office of Chisso Corp., the chemical company responsible for the pollution. I thought the economy was being put ahead of humans–the same picture that applies to atomic power generation.

After I graduated in 1975 and returned home, I found my community polarized between nuclear opponents and proponents. I was told that residents living along the same seashore had been so estranged that they no longer even spoke to each other when they attended funerals of people in the other camp.

The opposition movement gradually cooled its heels after the fishermen’s union decided to accept financial compensation, and after construction of the No. 1 reactor of the Onagawa nuclear plant began in 1979.

Some people had relatives working for the nuclear plant, while others supplied food to the plant workers.

They could no longer openly state they were opposed, even if they felt differently in their hearts.

A sense of resignation gradually spread. In the words of Tohoku Electric: “We obtained their understanding through persistent dialogue.”

The Onagawa nuclear plant now has three reactors.

The Great East Japan Earthquake damaged part of the power supply systems at the Onagawa plant, although it was spared from being swamped directly by the tsunami triggered by the March 11, 2011, quake.

I was driving a car in the neighboring city of Ishinomaki at the time. I returned home in the evening after being caught in a traffic jam and found it had been swept away by the tsunami. I lived for some time on the second floor of a relative’s home, whose ground floor had been flooded. I listened to news about the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the radio, but somehow, the situation at the Onagawa nuclear plant never crossed my mind.

Tohoku Electric has been boasting that the Onagawa nuclear plant “withstood the quake and tsunami.” I have also been told that a gymnasium on the grounds of the plant served as an evacuation shelter for more than 300 residents for three months. Some inhabitants are thankful for that.

But I later learned that the plant grounds lay only 80 centimeters above the towering tsunami, which measured 13 meters in height, and only one of the five external power supply systems survived without damage. Perhaps it was a matter of sheer chance that a serious accident was avoided.

The town government has so far received 21 billion yen ($195 million) in subsidies associated with the installation of nuclear reactors. This is in line with three laws governing the siting of nuclear power plants. The town also has a huge revenue source as a result of fixed asset taxes paid by Tohoku Electric. Sumptuous facilities that exceed our means have popped up one after another.

In looking to the future and making decisions about the town’s finances, a key consideration is whether we should bank on cash revenue from a future restart of the Onagawa nuclear plant.

When I attended a debate session in the assembly, I raised an objection to a young man who called for community development based on coexistence with the nuclear plant. Nobody presented follow-up opinions. And that was the last time the nuclear plant issue was raised. It remains difficult to this day to speak your mind.

But some people have begun reflecting on the future of the nuclear plant, even though they don’t speak out. The president of a company that does business with the nuclear plant once blurted out, when he was alone with me, “We cannot rely on the nuclear plant forever.”

Three of the 12 members of the Onagawa town assembly are opposed to the nuclear plant. Some of the other nine are taking a wait-and-see attitude and are less than wholeheartedly pro-nuclear.

I believe that, with the nuclear plant idled in the wake of the quake and tsunami disaster, now is a good opportunity for the townspeople to discuss their own future among themselves.

* * *

Mikiko Abe, 62, operates a liquor shop and a shipping agency, which markets fish caught from outside Onagawa, with her parents. Abe has one son and four daughters.

(This article is based on an interview by Ryoma Komiyama.)

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/opinion/AJ201410180014

 

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Sendai reactors vulnerable to eruptions, state-picked volcanologist warns

xOctober 18th, 2014 | ◆
Toshitsugu Fujii, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo
A prominent volcanologist disputed regulators’ conclusion that two nuclear reactors are safe from a volcanic eruption in the next few decades, saying Friday that such a prediction is impossible.

A cauldron eruption at one of several volcanoes surrounding the Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture could not only hit the reactors, but also cause a nationwide disaster, said Toshitsugu Fujii, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo who heads a state-commissioned panel on eruption prediction.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority last month said two Sendai reactors fulfilled tougher safety requirements set after the 2011 Fukushima crisis began.

The NRA ruled out a major eruption over the next 30 years until the reactors reach the end of their usable life span.

The surprise eruption of Mount Ontake on the border of Gifu and Nagano prefectures on Sept. 27 has renewed concerns about the volcanoes in the region.

“It is simply impossible to predict an eruption over the next 30 to 40 years,” Fujii said. “The level of predictability is extremely limited.”

He said eruptions can only be predicted in hours or days, at best.

Studies have shown that pyroclastic flow from an eruption 90,000 years ago at one of the volcanoes near the Sendai plant reached as far as 145 km (90 miles) away, Fujii said.

He said that a pyroclastic flow from Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano that is part of the larger Aira cauldron, could easily hit the nuclear plant, which is only 40 km (25 miles) away.

Heavy ash falling from an eruption would make it impossible to reach the plant, and could also affect many parts of the country, including Tokyo, he said. Many nuclear power plants could also be affected in western Japan.

The Sendai reactors are the first to pass the safety checks, which added resistance to volcanic eruption as part of the new evaluation.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to restart any viable reactors deemed safe, saying nuclear power is stable and relatively cheap compared to other energy sources and key to Japan’s recovery. Ironically, the utilities, many of which operate atomic plants, are revolting against the feed-in tariff system — for producing a solar energy glut.

Kyushu Electric Power Co., which runs the Sendai plant, promised steps to ensure worker access in up to 15 cm (6 inches) of ash and a monitoring system to detect changes in volcanic activity.

It also promised to transfer fuel rods to safer areas ahead of time if eruption signs are detected — a time-consuming process experts say is unrealistic.

Fujii said 10 cm (4 inches) of ash will render any vehicle except tanks virtually inoperable. Power lines would be cut by the weight of the ash, causing blackouts that could shut reactor cooling systems.

Only after approving the reactors’ safety did the NRA establish a volcano panel to discuss eruptions and countermeasures.

Fujii, a member of that panel, said experts are opposed to the NRA’s views.

Even though a catastrophic eruption might occur only once in 10,000 years, the likelihood of one cannot be ruled out either, he said.

“Scientifically, they’re not safe,” he said of the Sendai reactors. “If they still need to be restarted despite the uncertainties and risks that remain, it’s for political reasons, not because they’re safe, and you should be honest about that.”

Source: Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/18/national/science-health/reactor-safety-near-japans-volcanoes-disputed-by-prominent-expert/#.VEJynq0cSM8

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Higher Fukushima Radiation Levels Triggered by Typhoons

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MOSCOW, October 18 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova – Radiation levels at Japan’s notorious Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant jumped after the plant was hit earlier this month by two typhoons: Phanfone and Vongfong.

“The back-to-back weather disturbance typhoons Vongfong and Phanfone had triggered the elevated radiation quantities at the plant,” writes the International Business Times, citing NHK, Japan’s state-run media outlet.

According to Japan’s JIJI agency, levels of cesium, a radioactive isotope that causes cancer, are three times higher than their previously registered rates and are currently 251,000 becquerels per liter, while levels of tritium, another dangerous isotope, have grown as  high as 150,000 becquerels.

Tepco’s (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) spokesperson emphasized that heavy rainfall triggered by Typhoon Phanfone had apparently impacted Fukushima’s groundwater.

“In addition, materials that emit beta rays, such as strontium-90, which causes bone cancer, also shattered records with a reading of 1.2 million becquerels,” JIJI agency pointed out, adding that the wells that groundwater samples had been taken from were located close to the nuclear plant’s port in the Pacific.

Asahi Shimbun underscores that Tepco’s task of decontaminating all the radioactive water stored at the Fukushima No. 1 plant by the end of this fiscal year will be “increasingly difficult” to accomplish.

“According to a Tepco estimate made in February, the amount of highly contaminated water should have been reduced to 300,000 tons  by about now, but the water cleaning procedure is currently a month behind the original schedule,” the media outlet stresses.

Asahi Shimbun reveals that another problem is that the groundwater flow into the plant’s reactor building is increasing the amount of highly radioactive water by 400 tons a day. Although the corporation claims that it has succeed in reducing the influx by 130 tons a day due to its various counter-measures and its “underground water bypass project,” these estimations have not been verified, the media source notes. The ambitious water-decontamination plans have yet to be completed and it remains to be seen when Tepco will be able to accomplish its task.

Source: RIA Novosti

http://en.ria.ru/society/20141018/194266755/Higher-Fukushima-Radiation-Levels-Triggered-By-Typhoons.html

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Japan | , , | 1 Comment

Japan’s timid coverage of Fukushima led this news anchor to revolt — and he’s not alone

10457117185_a04dac16fe_kFormer NHK anchor Jun Hori speaks at a TEDx event in Kyoto, Japan,

about opening Japanese journalism to non-traditional sources.

October 17, 2014

No one is telling Shiga Kamematsu the truth.

It’s been three-and-a-half years since 83-year-old Kamematsu left his home, with its rice patties, vegetable fields and 10 cows, fleeing the disaster at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor. He still can’t go back.

When will it be ready for people again? No one seems to know — or be interested in telling him. “I can’t take my land with me,” he says, “so I don’t know what to do. I can’t see ahead.”

Kamematsu is one of about 80,000 people in Japan still officially displaced by the nuclear crisis. Questions remain about radiation levels, the clean-up process and when residents can return home. Yasuhiko Tajima, a professor of media studies at Tokyo’s Sophia University, says many Japanese are frustrated by what they see as a lack of information.

Japanese journalists did what Tajima calls “announcement journalism” in reporting on the crisis. He says they were reporting the press releases of big companies and the people in power. And he’s not the only one who thinks so.

“I am a newscaster, but I couldn’t tell the true story on my news program,” says Jun Hori, a former anchor for NHK, the Japanese state broadcaster.

Hori says the network restricted what he and other journalists could say about Fukushima and moved more slowly than foreign media to report on the disaster and how far radiation was spreading. The attitude in the newsroom was not to question official information

“I was on the ground in Fukushima, and a lot of people kept asking me, why didn’t you tell us earlier about what is happening?” Hori says.

Out of frustration, Hori started tweeting uncensored coverage. “I got a huge response,” he says, “but then my superiors said the NHK was getting complaints from politicians about what I was saying. They told me I had to stop.”

Hori eventually quit the NHK and started his own website for citizen journalism — 8-Bit news. He says Fukushima showed people in Japan that they had to be proactive about getting information. Anyone can submit videos and news content to his site.

“Until now, the Japanese thought someone was doing it: companies, the government, someone,” Hori says. “But once you peeled back the cover, you saw that nobody was doing it.”

That’s backed up by outside observers as well: Japan has dropped 31 places since 2011 in a World Press Freedom ranking compiled by the group Reporters Without Borders. The group cites “a lack of transparency and almost zero respect for access to information on subjects directly or indirectly related to Fukushima.”

In a statement, NHK said it covered the event accurately and promptly reported a meltdown. It did not address claims that it faced outside pressure from politicians to restrict Hori’s Twitter account.

Hori’s 8-Bit is part of wave of new media launched since Fukushima, spanning everything from blogs and social media to documentaries. Yasumi Iwakami started one of the first efforts. He took live streaming video of press conferences and other coverage and loaded them up to a site called the Independent Web Journal.

“We just kept the cameras running all the time,” Iwakami says. “Even during the breaks at press conferences. We interviewed everyone we could.”

If you want to say something clearly and directly in Japan, Iwakami says, it takes a lot of effort. You have to do something drastic — like start a streaming news site run on donations. “That’s very crazy!” he says.

It is a big change from Japan’s traditional media, says Benjamin Ismail, head of the Asia-Pacific desk for Reporters Without Borders. He says that in covering Fukushima, self-censorship was a big issue.

“Some of the journalists really believed they had a duty not to create a global panic,” Ismail says, “and therefore they had to withhold some of the information they obtained.”

Ismail hopes Japan’s alternative media can gain steam, especially because there’s not much time to act. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is moving ahead on restarting the nuclear industry, and the first reactors are projected to be back online by next year.

Sources:

1. PRI’s The world

http://www.pri.org/stories/2014-10-16/frustrated-japans-coverage-fukushima-crisis-japanese-news-anchor-started 

2. “Newsroom revolution” — empowering the people: Jun Hori at TEDxKyoto 2013 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dg8whKEQYPg#t=45

October 19, 2014 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Hot debate in Japan as communities reject nuclear power plant restart

protestor-JapanAs Communities Block Nuclear Restart, Japan’s 48 Operable Reactors Idle, Forbes, 17 Oct 14,  Nothing is as hotly debated in Japan right now as the restarting of the 48 inactive nuclear plants which closed one after the other for scheduled maintenance after the Fukushima disaster three years ago. Near Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai plant in southwest Japan, communities are thwarting revival plans despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe urging on the restart plan after Sendai was found to meet the new safety guidelines set by the independent nuclear regulator.

The Sendai plant, located about 600 miles from Tokyo, is the first to receive the clearances but with the consensus process involving communities and local governments has become complex. The reactor’s restarting could be months away. Over three years have lapsed since the nuclear reactors run by the Tokyo Electric Power Co in Fukushima suffered a meltdown following an earthquake-triggered-tsunami. The accident in May 2011 was the worst disaster since Chernobyl. The contaminated towns near Fukushima are still out of bounds and could be for years while the clean-up process continues.

Since the Fukushima disaster, regulatory lapses have come to light and communities have rallied against plants and fought to keep the reactors idle as they closed for regular maintenance. The last of the reactors shut a year ago.

There is also the fact that Japan is prone to natural disasters and frequently hit by earthquakes and typhoons. After the volcanic eruption in Mount Ontake in September, fresh fears are being raised on nuclear safety during volcanic activity. Sendai, for instance, is about 30 miles from an active volcano……..http://www.forbes.com/sites/saritharai/2014/10/16/as-communities-block-nuclear-restart-japans-48-operable-reactors-idle/

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Strontium, Cesium – radioactive records soar in Fukushima groundwater

diagram-Strontium-90Agency: Fukushima workers urgently trying “to prevent groundwater from leaking into ocean” — Levels of nuclear waste surge next to sea — Strontium-90 shatters previous record by over 5 Billion Bq/m3 — Now 25 million times EPA limit http://enenews.com/agency-fukushima-workers-urgently-trying-prevent-groundwater-leaking-ocean-levels-nuclear-waste-skyrocket-next-sea-strontium-90-shatters-previous-record-5-billion-bqm3?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

Jiji Press,Oct. 14, 2014: Cesium Level Rises in TEPCO Plant Well — [TEPCO] on Tuesday reported a sharp rise in cesium levels in water collected from an observation well near the sea [on] Monday [with] a record 251,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per liter, 3.7 times the cesium level… [last] Thursday… Monday’s reading was the highest level… from any of these wells… The samples in question also contained 7.8 million becquerels of beta particle-emitting radioactive substances, such as strontium-90, per liter, also a 3.7-fold increase.ITAR-TASS (Russian News Agency), Oct. 14, 2014 (emphasis added): Highest radiation inground water at Japan’s NPP after nuclear disaster… The highest radiation level was registered in subsoil water taken from a technical well at 1st and 2nd power units at Fukushima-1.., [TEPCO] said on Tuesday. The underground water sample was taken on October 13… Company’s experts said that a surge in radiation was linked with the impact of a typhoon raging in the locality, when heavy rain triggered spread of radiation-contaminated particles in underground water. Now nuclear plant’s specialists are pumping out ground water urgently to prevent it from leaking into the ocean.

Kyodo News, Oct 14, 2014 (Google translation): … record high values of cesium, the influence of the typhoon in Fukushima first nuclear power plant… from the water of the well in the seawall of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant Units 1 and 2 [cesium is 251,000] becquerels per liter… manganese 54 is… 700… cobalt 60 [is 3,600]… [TEPCO] found under the influence of typhoon No. 18 earlier this month, contaminated water that has accumulated in the piping has been spreading. Both record high values in groundwater…

Note that the most recent stontium-90 test results for well No. 1-6 published by Tepco on Oct. 1show that levels of Sr-90 are virtually equal to Gross Beta. This means the Oct. 13 Sr-90 levels are near 7,800,000 Bq/L — 26,000,000 times the EPA limit for Sr-90 in water (0.3 Bq/L).

See also: Officials: Typhoon caused significant increase in radioactive releases from Fukushima — Record levels of ‘highly toxic’ nuclear material found in ground outside reactor

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

Handicaps to Japan’s nuclear power restart

flag-japanJapan’s nuclear restart unlikely this year, local vote expected in December http://planetark.org/enviro-news/item/72335 16-Oct-14  JAPAN  Kentaro HamadaAs Japan pitches an unpopular nuclear restart to residents near Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Sendai plant, local politicians say approval is unlikely until December, delaying an already fraught process to revive the country’s idled reactors.

More than three years after the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, the worst disaster since Chernobyl, Japan’s nuclear plants remain offline nationwide even as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushes to restart reactors that meet new safety guidelines set by an independent regulator.

The focus has switched to townships located near the Sendai reactors, the nation’s first to receive safety clearance from regulators. The debate over restarts pits host communities that get direct benefits from siting reactors against other nearby communities that do not reap the benefits but say they will be equally exposed to radioactive releases in the event of a disaster. Continue reading

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

South Korea monitors products, very aware of nuclear radiation from Japan

text-radiationflag-S-Koreaflag-japanSouth Koreans Still Fear Radiation From Japan WSJ, 17 Oct 14 More than three years have passed since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, but some South Koreans are still leery over possible radioactive contamination from their neighbor.

Environmental activists and residents of Changwon, a city on South Korea’s southeastern coast, staged a rally Tuesday in front of a steel company to protest its import of scrap steel from Japan through a nearby port of Masan.

The protesters demanded local steel companies stop importing Japanese steel for recycling through seaports that aren’t equipped with radioactive detection devices, such as Masan.

“A case in August, in which imports of scrap steel from Japan were found to contain radioactive material and sent back to Japan clearly shows we’re exposed to a real risk,” said Park Jong-kwon, chairman of the Masan Changwon Jinhae Korea Federation of Environmental Movements.

Mr. Park said his group will continue to demand the government divert such imports to other ports until Masan has a radiation detection system.

Concerns have heightened after the Seoul government in August found some imported scrap metal from Japan bore traces of radiation and ordered the importer to return the items to Japan.

The protest in Changwon followed similar complaints earlier this week by a civic group in another port city of Gunsan, southwest of Seoul, that the country should stop steel imports from Japan.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said Aug. 11 that it had returned some steel scrap imported from Japan due to radiation contamination, the first returned shipment since Seoul heightened nuclear safety checks in 2012………

One of Korea’s industries hit hardest by Japan’s latest nuclear disaster was seafood as domestic sales of marine products plummeted following leaks of radioactive water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

Since September last year, the Seoul government has blocked all fishery imports from prefectures surrounding the Fukushima plant. http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2014/10/15/south-koreans-still-fear-radiation-from-japan/

October 18, 2014 Posted by | safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

Australian rare earths miner Lynas must make a plan for radioactive waste disposal, says IAEA

rare-earth-dysprosiumflag-MalaysiaIAEA reports no long-term plan for Lynas waste, Malaysian Insider  17 October 2014 The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Friday gave a passing safety grade to a controversial Malaysia rare earths plant, but raised concerns that there was no long-term plan for properly disposing of the plant’s potentially radioactive waste.

The rare earths processing plant in the state of Pahang has generated opposition from green groups who fear radioactive contamination and have accused authorities and Lynas of overriding public concern.

In a report, the IAEA said it saw little risk of contamination due to the low-level radiation involved, and that its investigators were “not able to identify any instances of non-compliance” with international standards. “Lynas needs to demonstrate that the disposal of solid waste can be carried out in a safe manner over the long-term,” the report said.

It recommended that Malaysian authorities require Lynas to come up with a plan.

“There is a lack of a plan for managing the waste from the decommissioning and dismantling of the plant at the end of its life,” it said……

However, it also appeared to underscore environmentalists’ concerns that Australian miner Lynas Corp has no long-term plan for the disposal of waste from the plant.- http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/iaea-teams-says-lynas-plant-generates-low-level-radioactive-waste-bernama#sthash.JEFk1poD.dpuf

 

October 18, 2014 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Malaysia, rare earths | 1 Comment

Safety anxiety as Tepco plans to remove canopy from Fujushima No 1 nuclear reactor

Chairman Allison Macfarlane and other NRC officials stand in the darkened interior of Reactor 4 at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex northeast of Tokyo Dec. 13, 2012. Photo courtesy of TEPCOPlan to remove cover over damaged Fukushima reactor draws concern, Asahi Shimbun  October 16, 2014  Amid local concerns of the further spread of radioactive materials, Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced plans to start dismantling the canopy installed over the destroyed Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s No. 1 reactor building.

The operation, announced by TEPCO on Oct. 15, will remove the cover that was erected in October 2011 over the building to prevent radioactive materials from entering the atmosphere……..

The process, which will begin Oct. 22, is a necessary step in removing the vast amounts of highly contaminated debris, rubble and dust that remain inside the building.

However, as the work to clear debris at the plant’s No. 3 reactor building in August 2013 spread radioactive materials in the area, the Fukushima prefectural government and experts are calling for careful measures to be taken in the dismantling………..

n the removal, the utility will drill 48 holes in the roof of the cover, each 30-centimeter squares. From the holes, synthetic resin will be sprayed as anti-scattering agents inside the building to minimize the possibilities of radioactive materials rising.

Starting from the end of this month, two of the six roof panels will be removed to install a camera to monitor the status of the debris inside.

Once the condition of the rubble is better understood, a specific schedule for the dismantling process will be created. The utility plans to begin major operations in March 2015 in hopes of starting the removal of debris in fiscal 2016. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410160049

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

Japanese electricity utility very unhappy about anti nuclear art

Tohoku Electric Power kicks up a stink about art display at publicity hall Asahi Shimbun, By HIDEAKI ISHIBASHI/ Senior Staff Writer 16 Oct 14,  SENDAI–A solitary bulging black sandbag, a sprinkling of dirt on a solar panel and a dosimeter: As art installations go, the work on display at a venue here smacked more of a statement than anything else.

And it got the attention of Tohoku Electric Power Co., operator of the Green Plaza hall where the exhibit could be seen by passers-by.

The utility uses the hall to publicize its activities, as well as providing a venue for the public to mount exhibitions.

Tohoku Electric asked for the work to be temporarily removed on grounds that people looking in from the street might regard it as suspicious.

The dirt is from Fukushima Prefecture, site of the 2011 nuclear disaster. It has already been decontaminated of radiation. The installation was created by Takashi Murakami, who is also an associate professor of art education at Miyagi University of Education.

He should not be confused with the pop artist of the same name, who is internationally famous and has also been involved in charity efforts to assist victims of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

Artists from Japan and Canada organized an exhibition titled “Power To The People” to be held at the Green Plaza from Oct. 7 to 19. Murakami and the other artists said they wanted the exhibition to make visitors think about the future of energy from a neutral standpoint.

The artists chose the Green Plaza for their venue for the simple reason it is operated by an electric power company in the area most severely affected by the 2011 natural disasters.

“I tried to express the current situation in Fukushima where sand bags filled with dirt from decontamination work are stacked up everywhere,” Murakami said……….

The exhibition finally was opened to the public on Oct. 10, three days behind schedule.

In response to an inquiry from The Asahi Shimbun, Minamihaba explained why the work was moved and said, “It did not match the policy of managing the Green Plaza in order to provide citizens with a place for enrichment and relaxation.”…..

Murakami said, “Art is by nature multifaceted, so it can be not only comforting to people, but also disgusting to some. Tohoku Electric Power overreacted.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410140032

October 18, 2014 Posted by | Japan, media | Leave a comment

Bangladesh’s dangerous nuclear power program

Is a nuclear disaster looming in Bangladesh? http://www.thedailystar.net/is-a-nuclear-disaster-looming-in-bangladesh-46005 Abdul Matin 16 Oct 18,  The writer is a former chief engineer of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission.

 IN an article entitled “Amend Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Act 2012” (DS, August 31), I pointed out that the qualifications and experience of the chairman and members of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA) did not conform with the recommendations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as detailed in the guidebook, Manpower Development for Nuclear Power. The BAERA, by the way, is responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the general public and the plant workers against any harmful effects of nuclear radiations.

The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory (Amendment) Bill, 2014 was passed by the parliament on September 14. Surprisingly, instead of bringing the qualifications and experience in conformity with the IAEA guidelines, the amendment further relaxed the qualifications of the top brass of BAERA to “adequate qualification and experience about nuclear energy management.” “Adequate qualification and experience” is a vague term subject to interpretations. In technical terminology, it carries little significance. Moreover, management of nuclear energy does not necessarily imply nuclear safety. The door has thus been opened, perhaps deliberately, to any Tom and Harry to occupy the top positions of BAERA. It shows that the authorities are least concerned about the safety of the proposed nuclear plant at Rooppur.

The real motive for making the amendment is a mystery.  It is probable that the changes were made because of unavailability of sufficiently qualified and trained engineers. In that case, our priority should have been to train necessary manpower first before embarking on an ambitious nuclear power programme. Furthermore, the concerned authorities are solely responsible for creating this crisis. They, perhaps due to negligence or incompetence, did not initiate any serious programme of recruitment and training of nuclear engineers during the last six years in spite of our strong recommendations at a round table organised by The Daily Star and ABUETA (DS, May 10, 2009) and attended by the adviser on power and energy and the state minister of science and technology. Did we not have enough time to train at least fifty nuclear engineers with MS degrees by now if we had acted promptly at that time?

The recent amendment could partly relax the experience only in selected cases but certainly not the requirements of qualifications or training. How can one ensure nuclear safety without a solid background (at least at MS level) in nuclear engineering and nuclear reactor safety? It is inconceivable and unacceptable in the nuclear industry. By relaxing the qualifications and experience of the top officials of the BAERA, the authorities have acted most irresponsibly and put the country at the risk of a likely ‘man-made’ nuclear disaster.

 

October 18, 2014 Posted by | ASIA, safety | Leave a comment

No solution in sight, to South Korea’s mounting tonnes of radioactive trash

text-wise-owlflag-S-KoreaAs Nuclear Waste Piles Up, South Korea Faces Storage Crisis, Scientific American, 14 Oct 14 Among the usual commercials for beer, noodles and cars on South Korean TV, one item stands in marked contrast. By Meeyoung Cho SEOUL (Reuters) – Among the usual commercials for beer, noodles and cars on South Korean TV, one item stands in marked contrast.

A short film by a government advisory body carries a stark message: the nation faces a crisis over storing its spent nuclear fuel after running reactors for decades.

The world’s fifth-largest user of nuclear power has around 70 percent, or nearly 9,000 tonnes, of its used fuel stacked in temporary storage pools originally intended to hold it for five or six years, with some sites due to fill by the end of 2016.

It plans to cram those sites with more fuel than they were originally intended to hold while it looks for a permanent solution, suggesting little has been learned from the Fukushima disaster in neighboring Japan.

In the Fukushima crisis in 2011, the storage of large amounts of spent nuclear fuel in elevated pools posed a threat of massive radioactive release on top of meltdowns at three reactors. Spent fuel rods heated up after a quake knocked out water-cooling pumps, underlining the dangers of holding troves of radioactive material in relatively exposed cooling ponds.

“We cannot keep stacking waste while dragging our feet,” said Park Ji-young, director of the science and technology unit at respected think tank the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.

“If we fail to reach a conclusion (on how to manage spent fuel), it would be time to debate if we should stop nuclear power generation.” With South Koreans still spooked by Fukushima and a scandal at home over fake safety certificates for nuclear equipment, the commission has its work cut out to come up with more than a temporary fix to the storage crunch in a report due by year-end………..

OUT OF FAVOR

A permanent solution remains elusive, Continue reading

October 15, 2014 Posted by | South Korea, wastes | Leave a comment

Subsoil under Fukushima nuclear plants – highest level ever, following typhoon

flag-japanHighest radiation in ground water at Japan’s NPP after nuclear disaster http://en.itar-tass.com/non-political/75421  October 14, Cesium-137The caesium isotope content has made 251,000 Becquerel (Bq) per liter in subsoil water taken from a technical well at 1st and 2nd power units at Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant OKYO, October 14. /TASS/. The highest radiation level was registered in subsoil water taken from a technical well at 1st and 2nd power units at Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant after the nuclear disaster in Japan in 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Company operating the nuclear plant said on Tuesday. The underground water sample was taken on October 13.

The caesium isotope content has made 251,000 Becquerel (Bq) per liter. Japan has set the highest permissible level of these elements for water split in the ocean at 30 Bq.

Company’s experts said that a surge in radiation was linked with the impact of a typhoon raging in the locality, when heavy rain triggered spread of radiation-contaminated particles in underground water. Now nuclear plant’s specialists are pumping out ground water urgently to prevent it from leaking into the ocean.

October 15, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

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