VIDEO: Gov’t experts highly suspicious of Japan’s claim that nobody suffered acute radiation syndrome after Fukushima — So many workers were ill they had to lay on cardboard after running out of beds — Officials “repeatedly talked of death” — CBS: There were reports of people with radiation sickness http://enenews.com/video-foreign-govt-very-suspicious-japans-claim-suffered-acute-radiation-syndrome-after-fukushima-many-workers-ill-lay-cardboard-after-running-beds-officials-repeatedly-talked-death-video?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Japan Times, Sept. 17, 2014 (emphasis added): [Deceased Fukushima Daiichi chief Masao Yoshida] repeatedly talks of “death” in the initial days of the crisis as the realization sinks in that the nuclear fuel had already started to melt.
Mainichi, Sept 12, 2014: “Nobody came to help us. I am still full of resentment and bitterness,” Yoshida said… heaping scorn on [the] TEPCO President… and calling him ”that man.”
Xinhua, Sept 11, 2014: Masao Yoshida [revealed] the government had utterly failed to understand the gravity of the workers’ situation at the plant… three days into the crisis the chief had lost hope and was losing his grip on the situation… politicians and TEPCO officials at the headquarters were clueless as to the dire predicament he and his workers were in, including those who had been exposed to potentially lethal levels of radiation.
Kyodo News, Sept 14, 2014: [Satoru] Hayashizaki and his coworker opened the door to the [No. 3] suppression chamber’s room… “My hands, covered by rubber gloves, instantly got hot”…Hayashizaki felt groggy… he put his right foot down on it only to see the rubber sole of his shoe melt instantly, leaving a black smear… He was alarmed to see [his dosimeter number] rising rapidly, even though he was [back] in the control room… everyone else’s dosimeters were rising… [He] thought he might die… and started writing a farewell letter.
Kyodo News, Sept. 14, 2014: Mitsuhiro Matsumoto, 47, was outside during both explosions… he [became] unable to believe anyone or any of the information he received. “I completely lost my will to fight”… Many [workers] had already absorbed more than 100 millisieverts… A man injured by the rubble was soon brought in on a stretcher… there were no doctors… Another man [was] in a state of panic… Those feeling ill were taken to a meeting room… Tepco quickly ran out of mattresses and had to put down cardboard for them to lie on… the door closed behind [Yumiko Kato and a reactor operator] shouted: “Is that an explosion? Again?” He then clasped his arms around his knees and trembled, muttering “I am afraid, afraid, afraid.”… “I want to go home,” a young female Tepco employee said as she started to cry…[Kato] said, “Let’s believe in our people, because they are working very hard.” The situation, however, only got worse, cornering everyone at the plant.
IRSN, France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (at 11:00 in): “At first sight there was no acute radiation syndrome observed in the weeks following the accident, , as was the case of the first rescue workers during the Chernobyl accident. These figures are to be taken with great caution because of severe degradations due to the tsunami… Medical checkups are now implemented by the Japanese authorities.” >> Watch the video here
Contrary to IRSN’s claim about medical checkups, NHK recently reported, “Screening of workers is left up to the contractors […] they’re not obliged to submit data. [A gov't adviser says they need] a centralized system to collect health data right away.” And according to the Asahi Shimbun, “Many companies involved have failed to conduct medical examinations.. [It's now] impossible to check whether workers have suffered health problems.”
CBS News discussed radiation sickness after the explosions: Prof. Cham Dallas, a nuclear energy expert, you’ve been in contact with both the Japanese and the US government throughout this process… Let’s talk about radiation exposure… Dallas: “There’s some disconnects here. We’re being told by the Japanese government that the radiation levels are very low… We have reports of people with radiation sickness. That’s the disconnect, usually it takes days for radiation [sickness]” >> Watch the broadcast here
DORC rort: The art of getting energy infrastructure paid for twice, SMH, September 19, 2014 Michael West Business columnist “……..you will hear how you have been paying for something, on a quarterly basis for the past 10 years, which you have already paid for. We are all victims of a high-brow rort by governments and energy companies.
While the consulting industry thrives on selling so-called expert valuations to justify this rort, Sydney University finance professor David Johnstone says it should end…….
energy companies are valuing old assets such as gas pipelines – things that consumers have already paid for – as if they were brand-spanking new. We, the mug punters, are lumbered with the cost on our power bills.
This is the DORC rort (depreciated optimised replacement cost), its moniker alone sufficient to discourage further inquiry.
Suffice to say that a reasonable thing for regulators to do might simply be to value assets at their cost, or to recognise only what their owners actually spend. Suffice to say that in Singapore and Hong Kong they would not be silly enough to use DORC, yet large corporations from these places are here enjoying riskless 10 per cent returns by stinging we mug Aussies twice for access to old gas pipelines, things that were paid for, and privatised, years ago……
why are assets that are already in private hands given the same favourable regulatory treatment? “I think it comes down to ideology as well as vested interests,” Johnstone says. “Economists fall in love their own models and crave the authority of being scientists.” http://www.smh.com.au/business/dorc-rort-the-art-of-getting-energy-infrastructure-paid-for-twice-20140919-10jega.html#ixzz3DuqE0nIm
Ocean hits record high for radioactive Strontium at all 6 locations near Fukushima reactors — Levels up to 20 times higher than reported last week — Officials: Contamination from highly radioactive ‘debris’ is seeping into ground and flowing out to sea http://enenews.com/record-high-strontium-90-ocean-water-every-location-destroyed-fukushima-reactors-levels-20-times-higher-reported-last-week-officials-contamination-highly-radioactive-debris-seeping-ground-flowin?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
TEPCO Prompt Report of Result of Analysis, Sept. 10, 2014:
Port of Fukushima Daiichi, around Discharge Channel and Bank Protection — Seawater
This newly published data shows record levels of Strontium-90 have been detected at all 6 seawater monitoring locations in front of the destroyed reactors. At 3 of 6 locations levels are around triple the previous record set last year.
Yet a report released by TEPCO days later on Sept. 12, 2014 claims: “Results indicate efforts to protect water are succeeding… inside the port area, concentrations of radioactivity have been steadily decreasing… Strontium… nearest the reactors… show levels of 70-100 Bq/L … Strontium 90 has been reduced to approximately a third of earlier levels [and] are projected to further reduce… Strontium 90 outflows to one-fortieth of the current estimated amount of outflow.”
According to a TEPCO document from last month: “Groundwater around reactor buildings (Unit 1 to 4) is confirmed to contain radioactive materials which have mixed with rainwater having been contacted with contaminated debris left on the ground surface due to the accident… contaminated water in the buildings theoretically does not mix with the groundwater flowing around the buildings.”
Japan’s plutonium stockpile jumped to 47 tons in 2013 KYODOHTTP://WWW.JAPANTIMES.CO.JP/NEWS/2014/09/17/NATIONAL/JAPANS-PLUTONIUM-STOCKPILE-ROSE-47-TONS-2013/#.VBTITPRDUNL SEP 17, 2014 Japan had about 47.1 tons of plutonium in and outside the country at the end of 2013, about 2.9 tons more than the year before, the Cabinet Office said on Tuesday. Newly added were 2.3 tons generated through spent fuel reprocessing outsourced to Britain and 640 kg not reported to the global watchdog in 2012 and 2013. The 640 kg is part of mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) fuel stored in a reactor that was offline during that time.
Revelations of the unreported 640 kg stoked controversy in June, though the Japan Atomic Energy Commission had said it was exempt from International Atomic Energy Agency reporting requirements, insisting at that time that fuel inside reactors is considered “being used.”
Under Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling policy, plutonium extracted by reprocessing conventional uranium fuel is consumed by existing reactors in the form of MOX fuel. But this policy is jeopardized by public concerns about nuclear power amid the Fukushima crisis.
A further increase in plutonium could raise concerns in the international community about its possible diversion to nuclear weapons.
The earlier unreported 640 kg of plutonium was contained in MOX fuel loaded in March 2011 into reactor 3 of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Prefecture during its regular checkup, but has been left there unused as the reactor could not restart in light of the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 complex.
Japan: ‘solar islands’ replace nuclear power http://www.enn.com/business/article/47833 15 Sept 14 As Japan seeks to end reliance on nuclear power, one of the answers is floating ‘solar islands’, writes Jon Major. A 70MW solar island opened last year, and two additional plants have just been announced. Two companies in Japan recently announced they are to begin building two large solar power islands that will float on reservoirs.
This follows smartphone maker Kyocera’s Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar power plant, the country’s largest at 70 megawatts, which opened in late 2013 and is found floating in the sea just off the coast of southern Japan.
The two new solar islands, to be built by Kyocera and commercial partners, will form a network of thirty 2MW stations – adding another 60MW of solar capacity.
The move comes as Japan looks to move on from the Fukushima disaster of 2011 and meet the energy needs of its 127m people without relying on nuclear power.Shattered confidence in nuclear power
Before the incident around 30% of the country’s power was generated from nuclear, with plans to push this to 40%. But Fukushima destroyed public confidence in nuclear power, and with earthquakes in regions containing reactors highly likely, Japan is now looking for alternatives.
Solar power is an obvious solution for relatively resource-poor nations. It is clean, cost-competitive, has no restrictions on where it can be used and has the capability to make up for the energy shortfall.
A small fact that solar researchers love to trot out is that enough sunlight falls on the earth’s landmass around every 40 minutes to power the planet for a year. To put this another way, if we covered a fraction of the Sahara desert in solar panels we could power the world many times over.
The technology already exists, so producing enough solar power comes primarily down to one thing: space. For countries such as the USA with lots of sparsely populated land this is not an issue, and there have already been a large number of solar farms installed around the country.
For Japan, the answer is offshore
But Japan where space is limited, more inventive solutions are required. This is the principle reason behind the decision to move their solar power generation offshore.
While the land is highly congested, and therefore expensive, the sea is largely unused. It therefore makes a good degree of sense to use this space for floating power plants.
Continue reading at ENN affiliate The Ecologist.
India’s nuclear nightmare: The village of birth defects The Star.com By: Raveena Aulakh on Mon Sep 15 2014 Indian court trying to unravel mystery of sick and disabled children, miscarriages and fatal cancers around the country’s first uranium mine……..Now, an Indian court wants to unravel the mystery of what is happening in Jadugora, the hub of India’s uranium mining industry since the late 1960s……..
Today, nuclear power provides less than 5 per cent of India’s electricity. The aim is to make it 25 per cent by 2050. This month, Australia signed an agreement giving India access to its vast supplies of uranium.
But activists say Jadugora is paying the price for India’s nuclear dreams……….
Until a decade ago, miners took their uniforms home to be washed by their wives or daughters, says Xavier Dias, a political activist who has worked for decades with the indigenous people who made up the majority of the mine’s workforce.
“They never wore masks then … or boots. Or even gloves.”
The workers were free to take building materials from the mine and even waste material, which they used to build their homes, he says.
When people began to notice that young women were having miscarriages, witches and spirits were blamed. Prayers were said to ward off the “evil eye.” But people had lesions, children were born with deformities, hair loss was common. Cows couldn’t give birth, hens laid fewer eggs, fish had skin diseases.
“If you ask the tribals (as the indigenous people are known) who have lived there for decades, long before uranium was discovered, they will tell you that they lived healthy lives, drank from the rivers, ate fruits and vegetables … and they never saw the inside of a hospital,” says Dias……
In Jadugora, tailing ponds take up more than 65 hectares — and they are all uncovered with easy access for people and animals. A few homes stand fewer than 50 metres from the pond’s edge. There are some no-trespassing signs, but children still play cricket or hopscotch nearby. Another tailing pond a few kilometres away sits beside a busy street with pipes constantly delivering more sludge.
The tailing ponds tend to overflow, especially during monsoon season, say villagers. If that happens, radioactivity can seep out and contaminate the groundwater and rivers. River water is used for washing and bathing, sowing and irrigation — and sometimes for drinking.
Trucks filled with yellow cake or mine waste trundle day and night along the highway. The cakes are covered with flimsy plastic covers; sometimes bits of rubble fall off………
The Jharkhand High Court is also looking for answers.
In March, it sent a notice to UCILasking for an explanation for the deformities, cancers and miscarriages around the Jadugora mine. It based the notice on local media reports, which included shocking pictures of children who were sick or deformed. (The demand was made by the court unilaterally, without a filing by officials or victims, in what is known as a suo moto action.)
According to local reports, UCIL told the court that the radiation emitted through its mining is under permissible limits and contained within a safe zone. The court refused to accept the submissions because they were old.
In August, the court also asked that the company disclose the radiation levels and the presence of any heavy metals in soil and water in the cluster of villages around Jadugora. It also asked UCIL to explain how it ensures the safety of those who live near radioactive waste.
The answers are due in November……….
While families of children with deformities will tell their stories to reporters, the families of women who have been unable to get pregnant or who have had unexplained miscarriages often don’t.
Since Jadugora’s health problems made the local newspapers, few families receive marriage offers for their daughters. In a country where not being able to bear children is such a stigma that women are either thrown out by their in-laws or banished to their parents’ homes, Jadugora women are now tainted and unwanted……….http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2014/09/15/indias_nuclear_nightmare_the_village_of_birth_defects.html
With no plans, designated waste sits by farms Japan News, September 12, 2014 The Yomiuri Shimbun Most radioactive-contaminated materials being kept at temporary storage sites in Fukushima and nearby prefectures still have nowhere to go.
In the Tohoku and Kanto regions, the 2011 crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has produced a massive amount of waste tainted with radioactive substances that were released into the air from the power plant.
However, the central government is having difficulty finding locations to build final disposal sites, where the waste will be buried underground. At this stage, there are no clear prospects for construction plans anywhere in the regions.
“Authorities say it’s safe, but will it really be safe, even when we’re hit by tornadoes or typhoons? I hope it moves somewhere else soon,” said a rice farmer in his 60s in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, referring to one of the warehouses of “designated waste” that stand in an area of farmland near his rice paddies. The city is one of the most famous rice-producing areas in the prefecture.
Covered in sheets of silver foil designed to protect against the sun’s rays, the warehouses store the designated waste — rice straw that was originally supposed to be used as livestock feed. The city government initially explained that the warehouses would be kept in the farmer’s vicinity for only two years — until January this year.
Waste with cesium levels higher than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram will receive an environmental ministry designation based on the special measures law on handling environmental pollution caused by radioactive substances. The amount in Tokyo and 11 other prefectures totaled about 146,000 tons as of June 30, according to the Environment Ministry……..
As a construction plan for final disposal site has been substantially delayed, the contaminated rice straw will remain in the warehouses for the time being…….http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001561227
Top-Secret Fukushima Interview: All the melted nuclear fuel will escape from containment vessel … it’s completely exposed — Nuclear annihilation of entire eastern part of Japan envisioned http://enenews.com/top-secret-fukushima-interview-all-nuclear-fuel-will-melt-escape-containment-vessel-fear-nuclear-annihilation-entire-eastern-part-japan?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Sept 12, 2014 : Yoshida feared nuclear ‘annihilation’ of eastern Japan, testimony shows Continue reading
Secret Fukushima Testimony Revealed: Plant chief considered “disemboweling himself” after explosions… “I should kill myself” — Smoke seen at No. 3 reactor before blast, “I figured this was the end of plant” — At start of crisis “I was in despair… panicking… I could not afford to logically think”http://enenews.com/secret-testimony-reveals-fukushima-plant-chief-contemplated-ritually-disembowelling-after-reactors-exploded-kill-despair-honestly-panicking-could-afford-logically?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
The Times (UK), Sept. 11 2014: Hero of Fukushima nuclear disaster considered hara-kiri … [Masao] Yoshida describes his horror on realising the reactors faced meltdown… [He] contemplated ritually disembowelling himself after an explosion that appeared to have killed dozens of his men… the manager of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, made the admission in recently released secret testimony…
No. 1 Reactor — “I was in despair… I was panicking… I could not afford to logically think”
- YOSHIDA: “To be honest, I was stunned [the plant lost all AC power]. I thought the situation was grave… My first thought was, ‘It’s a calamity.’… I was in despair… The No. 1 reactor fell into a state of crisis first, and then the No. 3 reactor. A crisis [like an explosion] could have erupted at any time… honestly, I was panicking… the No. 1 reactor exploded… Everything was in turmoil, and I could not afford to logically think.”
No. 3 Reactor Explosion — “I thought I should kill myself… I should commit harakiri”
- Q: TEPCO’s records show radiation levels registered 300 millisieverts within the consecutive doors leading into the [No. 3] reactor building, and also that there was whitish smoke nearby… YOSHIDA: “Yes… before an explosion took place there… I assumed that the No. 3 reactor’s fuel had been damaged… and that steam and other leaks from its container were starting to fill its building… I figured this was the end of the plant. That is to say, I wanted to inject water sooner, but in the end, a range of circumstances piled up and conspired against us… I explained that the No. 3 reactor also had its fuel rod damaged and that, based on the pressure in the containment vessel, it was approaching the same condition the No. 1 reactor had been in. There was a risk of another explosion at 9:30 a.m. or 10 a.m. on March 14, so I called for an evacuation of all personnel at that time… However, when discussing this with headquarters, I was told, “Just how long are you evacuating?” I told them that there was a risk of an explosion, and there was no way we could put personnel on the ground… The pressure on the containment vessel had dropped a bit… I issued the order to go back, and almost as we were doing so, it exploded. They said there were about 40-plus people missing… I thought I should kill myself at that point. If that report were true, and some 40-plus people were really dead, I thought I should commit harakiri.”
No. 2 Reactor — “The containment vessel might have been destroyed”
- YOSHIDA: “That morning [of March 15]… we got word that the [pressure in the No. 2 reactor's suppression chamber] had reached zero… the containment vessel might have broken. Thinking conservatively, this meant the vessel might have been destroyed, and that popping sound would suggest some sort of breakage… I decided to treat this as an emergency and issued an evacuation order, leaving only core [personnel]… I gave an order for all other personnel to temporarily evacuate from the site… the prime minister came at, I think, a bit after 5 a.m… I stated that I was evacuating personnel. There was pushback that the containment vessel would surely not explode because there was still pressure, but I countered that the pressure gauges could not be trusted.”
Late Fukushima manager flagged ‘density danger’ risks plaguing Japan’s big nuclear plants http://rt.com/news/187128-nuclear-japan-reactors-safety/ September 12, 2014 Recently disclosed documents show the late manager of Japan’s destroyed Fukushima plant warned of safety risks in restarting nuclear power stations in the seismic-prone country, which is considering rebooting full-scale nuclear energy production.
Yoshida specifically cited the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa site in northern Japan, also run by Fukushima operator TEPCO. A seven-reactor facility, he said, was difficult to operate as “chaos” ruled the site after the earthquake. He added that grouping numerous nuclear reactors together made it more difficult to manage.
“I thought it wasn’t very good from a risk-diversification standpoint, but [Tepco] had already built this [Fukushima Daiichi] and Kashiwazaki, so I had to work within that [system],” he said, Reuters reported. The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant was completely shut down for 21 months following an earthquake in 2007.The transcript released by the government is part of a government investigation into the causes of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Since the 2011 incident, Japan has shut down all of its nuclear facilities.
But on Wednesday, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved the restart of two reactors of a nuclear power station at Sedai after the plant met safety requirements needed. It is seen as the first step to reopening an industry of 48 reactors.
Under Japanese safety regulations, reactors after 40 years are to be decommissioned, unless they receive a 20-year extension. Reuters estimates that as many as two-thirds of Japan’s 48 idled nuclear units may never restart again.
Prior to March 2011, Japan generated 30 percent of its electrical power from nuclear reactors.
Fukushima plant chief rapped gov’t for not sharing sense of crisis, Fukushima Emergency What Can We Do by dunrenard September 11, 2014
China shows there’s more to renewable energy than fighting climate change ” The Conversation.11 September 2014, .… China’s large investments in renewables are best understood as enhancing the country’s energy security and not solely as a means of reducing carbon emissions…….
As the scale of Chinese manufacturing has grown — in our article we note that production of solar cells has expanded about 100-fold since 2005 — the costs of renewable-energy devices have plummeted. Countries such as Germany and South Korea, like China, are boosting their national renewable-energy industries and markets.
But others, including the United States, seem yet to notice this shift and are pursuing ineffective energy policies, including considering alternative fossil-fuels sources like coal-seam gas and putting trade tariffs on Chinese-made solar panels. Indeed oil addiction in the US appears to be worse than ever.
There are clear implications for Australia too. The current wave of anti-renewables rhetoric and negative reaction by the Australian government is out of step with the rest of world, and in particular with China and India, (and Germany) all of which countries see renewables as an important and growing element of their energy mix.
And there is a second clear implication: as they build their renewables industries, these countries will come to depend less and less on fossil fuels – and (China in particular), less and less on imports of Australian fossil fuels……..
In terms of electric power generation, China generated over 1,000 terawatt hours of electricity from water, wind and solar sources in 2013, which is comparable to the entire power generation combined of France and Germany.
But it is the rate of expansion that is so remarkable. China is rapidly expanding its renewable energy industries and its use of renewable devices to generate electric power.
Its latest target is that renewables will have a capacity of 550 gigawatts — over half a trillion watts — by the year 2017. We calculate that this will exert a major impact in China — enhancing energy security; reducing emissions pollution; and reducing carbon emissions.
But the primary impact will be on energy security. China became a net importer of oil in 1993; of natural gas in 2007; and of coal in 2011. If it can reach its 2017 target of 550 GW renewables, we calculate that this would translate into a saving of 45% on current imports of coal, oil and natural gas.
China is leading the way to a world of decarbonized energy, by placing the emphasis of its policy on growing the markets for renewables and building the industries to supply wind turbines, solar cells, batteries and other devices.
In this way it is driving down costs, through the learning curve, and making renewables more accessible to all countries. This is good for China, and for the world.http://theconversation.com/china-shows-theres-more-to-renewable-energy-than-fighting-climate-change-31471
Seriously? Japan Plans to Restart Nuclear Reactors http://inhabitat.com/seriously-japan-plans-to-restart-nuclear-reactors/ by Colin Payne, 09/10/14 Despite the devastation wreaked by the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, Japan wants to restart two nuclear reactors that were shut off in the wake of the disaster. According to the Guardian, Japan’s nuclear watchdog has said the reactors can be started up again, as long as the operator can convince the local communities they are safe. That might not be an easy task as the Japanese public has been wary of nuclear power since Fukushima, which was the worst atomic disaster since Chernobyl.
Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) only gave permission to open the Sendai plant in southern Japan after a 400-page safety report and months of public consultation. Plant operator, Kyushu Electric Power still needs to get two more NRA approvals for other facilities at the plant, as well as the all-important public approval. So it’s unlikely the plants will open until sometime in 2015.
Newly-appointed Japanese Industry Minister, Yuko Obuchi will have to be persuasive to restart the plant, and she acknowledges she has a tough road ahead of her. “If people say they are worried, I think it’s only natural,” she told the Guardian. “If you are a mother, I think it is a kind of feeling that everyone has. The central government must offer a full explanation to these sentiments.” She added that it’s important to earn the “understanding of hosting communities” who might not like nuclear facilities operating in the backyard, despite the new safety rules.
But Greenpeace Japan is campaigning to have the country abandon nuclear power altogether. The organization says the government is ignoring the fact that Japan has done just fine without nuclear power over the past year, and that it favors dangerous nuclear energy over renewable sources. “The government . . . is ignoring the lessons of Fukushima and attempting to prevent the renewable energy revolution, trying to take the nation back to its dependence on dangerous and unreliable nuclear power,” Kazue Suzuki of Greenpeace Japan said in the Guardian.
Japanese regulator caves to the nuclear industry and government pressure – but still no restart for Sendai http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/nuclear-reaction/Sendai-reactor-restart/blog/50534/ by Kendra Ulrich – 10 September, 2014 As with all things nuclear, things are not always what they seem.
Good example – today’s decision on the so called restarting of the Sendai reactors by the Japanese Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA), the best nuclear regulator in the world, according to the Abe government.
The five NRA commissioners decided that a proposal submitted by Kyushu Electric, owner of the Sendai reactors, complies with new guidelines brought in after the 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.
What the commissioners actually did was capitulate to pressure from Japan’s infamous nuclear village – the same industry and government alliance that created the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The decision really means that Kyushu Electric has moved restarting the Sendai reactors forward a bit, but it’s still not a restart approval. It doesn’t mean the NRA has certified the reactors as safe to operate or that they will restart anytime soon.
Why the confusion?
In part, it’s a savvy political strategy and a deliberate effort by the regulator, acting for the nuclear utilities and the Abe government, to signal that nuclear power is back in Japan.
The timing is no accident. In a few days, Japan celebrates an entire year without a single commercial nuclear reactor operating. It’s a powerful symbolic moment and a concrete demonstration that nuclear power, and its inherent risks, is unnecessary for the third largest global economy, with a population of 130 million people.
This is a major body blow to the nuclear industry both in Japan and globally. It’s a lesson the nuclear industry and its government backers would rather the public did not learn.
When the Ohi 4 reactor in Fukui prefecture was shut down on September 15th 2013, Japan became completely nuclear-free. A year later Japan is still nuclear-free. Many of the remaining 48 nuclear power reactors in Japan will stay shutdown permanently. Most of those that may restart will not do so for years to come.
The Abe government is desperate to prevent people from grasping that the world’s third largest nuclear reactor program has failed to generate any electricity for 12 months. In that year, there have been no blackouts or brownouts, the trains still run, the lights still turn on, and smart phones are still charged.
Most people in Japan understand that the declared government policy, that nuclear power is an essential and a stable source of energy, is a myth. They will not be fooled. The majority of the public are demanding no nuclear reactor restarts, an end to nuclear power, and a future energy system based on efficiency and renewables.
In fact, they are already creating this clean energy future with massive growth in solar PV, and significant reductions in energy demand since the Fukushima disaster.
Nuclear regulation worldwide exists to give the impression that nuclear power can be managed safely and without risk of severe accident. That is not the same as actually assuring safety and no severe risk of accidents.
The Japanese NRA, created from the discredited agencies that contributed to the Fukushima catastrophe, in the past months has revealed that it takes the side of industry instead of standing up for public safety.
The decision today highlights this wider truth. The NRA is still reviewing many remaining unresolved safety issues that scientists and citizens groups are also challenging.
So flawed is the safety case for Sendai that local citizens are seeking an injunction against Kyushu Electric and the government to stop them from operating the plant. No restart reflects public opinion
The latest polling shows 59% of Japanese people oppose restarting nuclear reactors, including Sendai. The NRA decision ignores the majority opinion.
The people of Japan, still suffering the ongoing tragedy of Fukushima, understand that the NRA is not protecting the public but only the interests of an industry in crisis.
The plan of the Abe administration and electric utilities to return Japan to nuclear power is in disarray, with no early restart for the Sendai reactors, and ever-increasing challenges for the other 46 reactors.
Sendai may make headlines in Japan and elsewhere today as a step toward restarts, but it does not change that for an entire year, as of September 15th, Japan will have been nuclear-free.
This is in large part due to the commitment of the people of Japan who have taken to the streets to protest nuclear restarts, have fought and won in courts, have massively reduced energy demand, and rapidly expanded clean, renewable solar PV.
This is impressive leadership from the people has advanced Japan’s future despite the determination of the Abe Government and dirty energy industries to drag Japan backward into the energy dark ages.
The people have proven their commitment to a clean energy future, and they’ve shown the world that it is possible. It is happening now.
Kendra Ulrich is an energy campaigner with Greenpeace International.
Fukushima No. 2 scrambled to avoid same fate as sister site Fukushima No. 1 Fukushima Emergency – what can we do? by dunrenard Sep 10, 2014
FUKUSHIMA – This is the fifth in a series on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe based on the accounts of people who struggled to contain the crisis in its early stages. Job titles and ages are as of March 2011.
Fukushima No. 1 wasn’t the only nuclear complex facing a critical situation after the magnitude-9.0 earthquake of March 11, 2011, unleashed a monster tsunami on the coast of Tohoku.
Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 plant, located about 12 km south of the No. 1 plant, also saw seawater pumps and electrical equipment flooded by the tsunami, which led three of its four reactors to lose key cooling functions.
Still, the extent of the damage was less devastating than that at its sister plant and one off-site power source that remained operable provided more leeway for workers to deal with the emergency.
For No. 2 plant chief Naohiro Masuda, 53, the worst situation imaginable was to lose control of both plants at the same time.
So when he watched on television as an explosion rocked the No. 1 reactor building at the other complex on March 12, Masuda issued an order that could be seen by some as coldhearted.
“Don’t allow anyone (from Fukushima No. 1) to enter our emergency response office building,” the plant chief said.
The building houses the emergency first-aid station.
Masuda’s decision reflected his determination to keep the developments at the other site from hampering stabilization efforts at his plant.
Workers exposed to radiation or injured by the explosion were certain to be transported to Fukushima No. 2.
Masuda believed that he had to limit the radiation contamination inside his complex so as not to affect the workers’ efforts.
He told his subordinates to prepare a place away from the office building for the No. 1 workers. His decision was later criticized by some No. 1 workers, who said they felt they were treated “like garbage.”
An area to scrub away radiation contamination and an aid center were set up inside a facility next to the main gate. The plant’s gymnasium was also readied as a shelter for workers from No. 1.
By the night of March 12, everything was ready to receive the No. 1 workers. But Masuda noticed many of his own workers appeared anxious. To reassure them, he gathered them together and told them he would “make sure that you won’t end up with any health problems. Don’t worry……….
When that happened, Masuda told his subordinates: “Don’t rely on others. Let’s do things by ourselves.”
A single misstep could have altered the fate of Fukushima No. 2. But the plant managed to keep the severity of the incident at level 3 on the international scale of nuclear accidents.
The crisis at Fukushima No. 1 was eventually rated at the maximum, level 7.
Source: Japan Times
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