GYEONGJU, South Korea–For three decades after a nuclear power plant near her home became operational, Hwang Bun-hui believed that nuclear power was no different from other energy sources in terms of safety and health effects.
But after the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfurled in Japan in March 2011, she came to harbor a growing concern over the effects that nuclear power generation has on human health as she had long suffered from a feeling of listlessness.
After a medical checkup, Hwang, 67, a resident of Gyeongju, was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and had to have immediate surgery to remove the tumor. Several other people from her village, which is the closest human settlement to the Wolseong nuclear power plant, were also diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
Hwang is among an increasing number of South Koreans who live near the country’s four nuclear power plants and are joining civil suits against the operator of the plants, demanding compensation for cancer and other adverse health effects.
The citizen’s legal actions were prompted by a landmark ruling by a district court last October, which ordered Korea Electric Power Corp., the government-owned operator of the nuclear plants, to pay 15 million won (1.68 million yen, or $13,500) in damages to a thyroid cancer patient.
The number of plaintiffs seeking compensation from KEPCO for health damages incurred by radioactive emissions from the plants has now swelled to more than 2,500.
Hwang joined the lawsuit late last year, encouraged by the landmark ruling by the Busan District Court.
In demanding compensation from KEPCO, she argues that radioactive emissions from the Wolseong nuclear power plant in Gyeongju, with its five reactors, have caused her thyroid cancer.
Hwang’s residence is located just 915 meters from the nuclear plant. The country’s nuclear watchdog authorized the extension of the operational life of the plant’s No. 1 reactor beyond 30 years in February.
While seeking damages through a civil trial, Hwang has also joined a local residents’ protest to demand the immediate decommissioning of aging reactors at the plant.
After she read the headlines of the landmark ruling in favor of the resident of Busan, Hwang realized that, “I’m equally a victim of a nuclear power plant.”
The 48-year-old plaintiff lived at a site located 7.7 kilometers from the Kori nuclear power plant in Busan for about two decades, and had her thyroid cancer surgically removed three years ago.
Citing a judicial precedent set by the Supreme Court in a pollution case, the Busan District Court held KEPCO responsible to pay damages unless it could prove that a nuclear power plant is safe for local residents.
The ruling brought similar civil actions among residents who live near four nuclear power plants in South Korea.
Between December and April, 545 residents living near the nuclear plants, who have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, joined lawsuits. Most of the plaintiffs live in areas within a 10-km radius from a nuclear power plant.
The total number of plaintiffs, including the family members of cancer patients, has already exceeded 2,500.
Lawyer Kim Yeong-hui, who has encouraged residents living near nuclear plants to join the litigation, said that epidemiological surveys in South Korea have shown that residents living 5 to 30 km from nuclear power plants have 1.8 times a higher incidence of thyroid cancer than people from other areas.
“The district court made the decision based on the survey results, and Japan should also conduct surveys covering residents living near all domestic reactors (to determine the health effect of nuclear energy),” the lawyer said.
At a gathering of anti-nuclear citizens in Osaka in January, Lee Jin-seop, the husband of the plaintiff who won the lawsuit at the Busan court, said that citizens from the two countries and elsewhere need to join hands in legal efforts against nuclear power.
“Even after the Fukushima disaster, South Korea has increased its number of nuclear reactors, while Japan is pushing for the restart of idled reactors,” said Lee, 51. “We need to expand the network of citizens seeking legal justice to protect our safety and health.”
Source: Asahi Shimbun
Bilateral talks on Korea’s ban on fisheries imports from Japan following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have collapsed, and the matter will now go before a dispute panel at the World Trade Organization.
Seoul banned the import of 50 fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture after the disaster, and the ban was expanded to cover all fishery products from Fukushima and seven adjacent prefectures in September 2013 following reports that massive amounts of radioactive materials and contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant were being dumped in the sea.
Tokyo claims Korea’s import ban has no scientific basis and demanded that Seoul lift it as soon as possible.
A government official here said, “We said the import ban was in line with WTO regulations and asked Tokyo to explain its nuclear risk and the state of nuclear reactors.”
Tokyo initially requested bilateral consultations with Seoul under a WTO dispute settlement framework.
Source : Chosun
SEJONG, June 26 (Yonhap) — Talks between South Korea and Japan over Seoul’s ban on fishery imports from the neighboring country ended without any progress as they stuck to their guns, the government here said Friday.
Seoul imposed an import ban on 50 fishery products from Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture shortly after the major earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear reactor there to melt down in March 2011.
The ban was expanded to cover all fishery products from Fukushima and seven adjacent prefectures in September 2013 following reports that massive amounts of radioactive materials and contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant were being dumped in waters surrounding Japan.
“The government held bilateral consultations with Japan on June 24-25 at the World Trade Organization (WTO) headquarters in Geneva over our country’s import restrictions on Japanese fishery products, but the talks ended after the countries confirmed their differences,” the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said in a press release.
Japan argued South Korea’s import ban had no scientific justification, demanding Seoul remove all its import restrictions at the earliest date possible.
South Korea maintained its measures were still necessary to ensure the safety of its people and that they were in line with the WTO’s sanitary and phytosanitary measures.
This week’s talks came after Tokyo requested bilateral consultations with Seoul under a dispute settlement framework of the WTO.
Japan could ask the WTO to set up a dispute settlement panel if the countries fail to reach a deal within 60 days following Japan’s request for bilateral consultations.
Seoul’s trade ministry said it was not clear whether Tokyo will ask for additional consultations, but that it will be fully prepared to deal with any legal processes.
“Japan has expressed its position that it will decide its next step after reviewing the outcome of this week’s bilateral consultations,” the ministry said.
“The government will begin preparing for WTO’s dispute settlement process as Japan is expected to ask for the establishment of a dispute settlement panel.”
Source : Yonhap News
Geneva – Japan and South Korea held talks on Seoul’s import ban on Japanese fishery products in Geneva Wednesday under dispute settlement procedures of the World Trade Organization but failed to iron out their differences.
The two sides, however, agreed to continue the talks on Thursday.
The talks were arranged after Japan filed a complaint with the WTO on May 21 over the import ban.
After the meltdown of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, caused by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, South Korea banned imports of some marine products from eight prefectures including Fukushima. In September 2013, the country expanded the ban to cover all seafood from the eight prefectures.
Japan took the matter to the world trade watchdog because South Korea did not agree to the Japanese argument that the ban lacked scientific evidence.
If the two sides remain at odds in Thursday’s talks and cannot reach an agreement by the July 20 deadline for the bilateral consultations, Japan will seek an adjudication by a dispute settlement panel.
Source : Japan Times
Two men have been charged in Taiwan related to the importing of banned foods from Japan. Authorities in Taiwan have asked Japan to investigate the crime on their end, so far they have received no response.
At the same time Japan is being uncooperative with Taiwan, they are asking China to ease food import restrictions. Japan recently took South Korea to the WTO in an attempt to force them to remove restrictions on suspect food imports. So far there has been no indication Japan intends to do the same to China.
The higher restrictions in place in China have created an additional problem for Japan. If they are able to comply with China’s stringent documentation requirements they have little ability to claim less onerous documentation rules in other countries are too difficult to meet. ipei Times
South China Morning Post
South Korea has prohibited all imports of fishery products from 8 Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima, since September 2013. The ban came after a massive amount of contaminated wastewater leaked at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The 2 sides agreed on Monday that the talks based on a World Trade Organization agreement will be held on June 24th.
Both sides appear ready to continue discussions the following day should it become necessary.
But whether the import ban will be lifted swiftly remains to be seen.
South Korea maintains it should be lifted in stages. Japan argues that the ban has no scientific basis and should be removed across the board.
Source : NHK
Korea panel backs closure of oldest nuclear reactor
* Application deadline to extend lifespan is June 18, 2015
* KHNP says no decision has yet been made
* Panel hopes closure to build decommissioning technology (Adds more quote and details)
By Meeyoung Cho SEOUL, June 12 (Reuters) – South Korea is expected to shut down its oldest nuclear reactor, the Kori No. 1 unit on the country’s southeastern tip, after a government-led energy advisory panel recommended it be permanently closed.The panel’s decision meant operator Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP) was unlikely to seek a second extension for the nearly 40-year-old plant, whose operating permit expires in June 2017, government and industry sources said…….http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/12/nuclear-southkorea-idUSL3N0YY21O20150612
they should just stop making this toxic stuff
South Korea needs new facility for spent nuclear fuel: advisory group, Reuters, SEOUL | BY MEEYOUNG CHO Editing by Richard Pullin 11 June 15, South Korea should build a new temporary facility to store spent nuclear fuel from 2030 and consider permanent underground storage from the middle of the century, a government advisory body said on Thursday.
South Korea is the world’s fifth-biggest user of nuclear power, but has yet to find a permanent solution for its spent nuclear fuel, with temporary sites at individual nuclear plants likely to start to fill up from 2019.
The Public Engagement Commission, an independent body that advises the government on nuclear issues, said Seoul should select a domestic site by 2020 for an underground laboratory that could conduct safety checks and provide temporary storage.
The facility could become the site for a long-term storage facility, which would bury the country’s nuclear waste 500 meters (1,640 ft) underground and start operations from 2051.
The commission’s recommendations, which are subject to parliamentary hearings, will be given to the country’s energy minister.
Public trust in nuclear energy in South Korea has been undermined by a 2012 scandal over the supply of reactor parts with fake security certificates and the 2011 Fukushima crisis in Japan…http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/06/11/us-nuclear-southkorea-spentfuel-idUSKBN0OR0AT20150611
Japan’s fisheries minister has expressed hope that South Korea will lift its ban on fishery imports from areas affected by the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
South Korea has banned all imports of fishery products from 8 Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima, since September 2013.
On Tuesday, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that South Korea informed Japan last Friday that it will agree to bilateral talks in Geneva, Switzerland, based on a World Trade Organization agreement. Japan requested the meeting last month.
Hayashi said under the WTO rules, negotiations should start within 30 days of a request.
He added that the government will step up efforts to get South Korea to lift the ban, even as a date for the talks is being arranged.
Japan food exports to Taiwan contain cesium
In the wake of the continuing Fukushima catastrophe, countries such as Korea and China are concerned that contaminated food is being exported from Japan. In a recent report by SimplyInfo.org, data from Taiwan showing food imports (primarily green tea) from Japan have contained radioactive cesium levels below Taiwan’s limit of 370 Bq/kg, but above Japan’s limit of 100 Bq/kg. The monitoring program in Taiwan is spot-checking these imports, so this contaminated tea was discovered in only a fraction of food coming from Japan, meaning additionally contaminated food could have been missed. In addition, Taiwan had already banned food from areas in Japan considered most contaminated, so this food was imported from areas in Japan considered “safe”. Taiwan tested teas that were harvested after the Fukushima catastrophe began. However, in 2011 and 2012, the US Food Drug Administration only tested tea varieties that would have been harvested in 2010, thereby having escaped contamination, making the FDA tea tests completely meaningless.
This unsettling discovery demonstrates that people in other countries are being sold food that is contaminated above Japan’s allowable limit, but below that of the receiving country—a concern that has been expressed time-and-again by Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network (FFAN) of which Beyond Nuclear is a coalition partner. While the allowable limit of radioactive cesium in Japan is 100 Bq/kg, in Taiwan it is 370 Bq/kg, and in the U.S. it is 1200 Bq/kg with no real explanation as to why, say, a pregnant woman in the U.S. should be allowed to ingest 12 times the radioactive poison of a pregnant woman in Japan. These inconsistent limits may not make biological sense, but they do make sense when taken in context of this statement by ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection–the body which generates statements governments rely on to set radiation exposure standards.) “There may be a situation where a sustainable agricultural economy is not possible without placing contaminated food on the market. As such foods will be subject to market forces, this will necessitate an effective communication strategy to overcome the negative reactions from consumers outside the affected areas.” This is the price of the continued use and catastrophic meltdowns of nuclear power.
Japan has filed a complaint with the WTO over Korean Fukushima-related import bans and additional testing requirements, demonstrating that countries trying to protect themselves from contaminated food could be facing international adjudication through the WTO. Japan told the WTO in October 2014 “more than 99 percent of food items were below standard limits, and strict measures prevented the sale or export of any food exceeding those limits.” But since measurement of food is so spotty, both from the importer and exporter, a statement like this is not only meaningless, but deceptive. Further, if every country’s contamination limits are different, in reality, there are no standard limits, no matter what the WTO or Japan contends.
If the Trans-Pacific Partnership is approved, these penalties could get a lot worse (link to Part 1 of a 5 part FFAN series on the TPP and contaminated food from Japan) and could include taxpayer compensation for corporate lost revenue due to such disputes.
But the radioisotope cesium isn’t the only concern. There is also strontium. Strontium-90 is much more difficult to measure than cesium-137. To avoid this inconvenience, strontium is often assumed or calculated to be in a ratio with cesium-137 such that a certain amount of measurable cesium would have a known accompanying smaller amount of strontium-90. Originally for contamination in Japan, strontium content was thought to be 10% of whatever the cesium-137 content was. However, after testing food in Japan, researchers have discovered that the initial ratio of strontium to cesium-137 is more than two times the amount of cesium-137. More importantly, it also means that the various country limits set for radioactive cesium in food may no longer protect from the increased health impact of the strontium-90 that may be lurking in imports from Japan.
Source : Beyond Nuclear
Japan takes South Korea to WTO over Fukushima-related food import restrictions
GENEVA – The central government launched a trade complaint at the World Trade Organization on Thursday to challenge South Korea’s import bans and additional testing requirements for Japanese food after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
South Korea expressed regret at Japan’s action and said its ban on some Japanese seafood was necessary and reflected safety concerns.
Japan says several measures taken by South Korea violate the WTO’s sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) agreement and Seoul has failed to justify its trade restrictions as required, the WTO said in a statement.
Under WTO rules, South Korea has 60 days in which to deal with Japan’s concerns in bilateral talks. After that Japan could ask the WTO to adjudicate on the matter.
“In upcoming talks with Japan, we plan to explain fully that the import ban is necessary for people’s safety, and actively deal with Japan over the issue they raised based upon WTO’s dispute settlement procedures,” South Korea’s trade, agriculture, foreign affairs and other related ministries said in a joint statement.
Details of Japan’s complaint were not immediately available, but Japan has repeatedly raised the issue in committee meetings at the WTO, where it has also voiced concerns about Fukushima-related trade restrictions imposed by Taiwan and China.
Japan’s representative told the WTO’s SPS committee in March that radioactive levels in Japanese food had declined substantially since the nuclear crisis began at Tepco’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant. It noted that the United States, Australia, the European Union, Singapore and Vietnam had all lifted or eased their Fukushima-related restrictions.
“We’ve urged the South Korean government to lift the ban, but we expect it is unlikely to be dropped quickly,” Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi said in a statement on Thursday.
South Korea extended its ban on Japanese fishery imports in September 2013 to cover imports from eight Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima.
Last October, the Japanese representative at the WTO committee said contamination levels in more than 99 percent of food items were below standard limits, and strict measures prevented the sale or export of any food exceeding those limits.
South Korea’s representative told the same meeting that its restrictions were in line with WTO rules, but Japan had not provided it with sufficient data for an objective and science-based risk assessment.
Japan’s representative also cited an assessment from the International Atomic Energy Agency in September 2014, which found its measures to deal with contamination were appropriate, according to minutes of the WTO committee.
The average annual value of South Korean imports of Japanese fish and seafood was $96 million in 2012-2014, less than half the average of $213 million in 2006 through 2010, according to data from the International Trade Center in Geneva.
Source : Japan Times
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. http://phys.org/news/2015-04-south-korea-nuclear.html#jCp
South Korea claims North hacked nuclear data Hackers stole blueprints, employee data, and threatened “destruction” if demands not met, Ars Technica, by Sean Gallagher – Mar 18, 2015 The South Korean government issued a report today blaming North Korea for network intrusions that stole data from Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP), the company that operates South Korea’s 23 nuclear reactors. While the government report stated that only “non-critical” networks were affected, the attackers had demanded the shutdown of three reactors just after the intrusion. They also threatened “destruction” in a message posted to Twitter………
In addition to identifying the malware used in the attack, the South Korean government’s investigation traced Internet traffic related to the attack back to addresses for a network in northeast China near the North Korean border. The government had earlier requested assistance from the Chinese government in identifying the source of the attack. http://arstechnica.com/security/2015/03/south-korea-claims-north-hacked-nuclear-data/
Hacker demands money to withhold information on S. Korean nuclear reactors Korea Times, SEJONG, March 12 (Yonhap) — A hacker who had posted inside information on South Korea’s nuclear power plants made a fresh threat Thursday, demanding money in exchange for not handing over sensitive information to third countries.
Using an account under the name of the president of an anti-nuclear group in Hawaii, the hacker posted additional files on Twitter, which reportedly included documents concerning the country’s indigenous advanced power reactor 1400.
“Need money. Only need to meet some demands… Many countries from Northern Europe, Southeast Asia and South America are saying they will buy nuclear reactor information. Fear selling the entire information will undermine President Park (Geun-hye)’s efforts to export nuclear reactors,” the posting said.
The hacker did not say how much money he wanted but warned that South Korea will end up losing much more if it tries to save a few hundreds of millions of dollars…….The latest posting marked the sixth of its kind since Dec. 15…….
In the latest posting, the hacker “congratulated” the KHNP for finding 7,000 viruses but claimed 9,000 more were awaiting his or her order.
The information released Thursday reportedly included the transcript of a telephone conversation between President Park and the U.N. chief, Ban Ki-moon, on Jan. 1. http://www.koreatimesus.com/hacker-demands-money-to-withhold-information-on-s-korean-nuclear-reactors/
Saudi Arabia, South Korea sign MOU on nuclear power Wed Mar 4, 2015 Reuters) – Saudi Arabia and South Korea have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to cooperate on the development of nuclear energy, Saudi state news agency SPA said, building on a deal signed in 2011.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye met with Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday in Riyadh during an official visit, SPA said.
The MOU calls for South Korean firms to help build at least two small-to-medium sized nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia, the South Korean presidential office said in a statement.
“If the two units go ahead, the cost of the contract will be (near) $2 billion,” the statement said……http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/04/saudi-south-korea-nuclear-idUSL5N0W61GM20150304
South Korea renews license of second-oldest nuclear plant, Japan Times, 28 Feb15 SEOUL – The South Korean nuclear regulator said Friday it renewed the operating license of the country’s second-oldest nuclear power plant until 2022, overriding the objections of residents and anti-nuclear groups.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission said that seven of nine commissioners voted to restart the Wolsong No. 1 reactor located in Gyeongju city, 275 kilometers (170 miles) south of Seoul……..
South Koreans were sharply divided over the fate of the Wolsong No. 1 plant that had operated for 30 years until its license expired in 2012. Residents of Gyeongju and members of environmental groups staged protests near the nuclear watchdog’s office when the commissioners discussed the restart in three meetings since January.
The decision to restart Wolsong No. 1 could galvanize opponents and residents living in the areas of current and future plants, said Suh Kune-yull, nuclear engineering professor at Seoul National University.
“I think there could be a backlash to the nuclear energy industry,” Suh said. “It will become increasingly difficult to extend the life span of other nuclear plants or to build new ones.”…….
Opponents of the Wolsong restart said the plant failed to meet the latest safety standards that came into effect after the reactor first went into operation, and that residents near the power plant want it shut down. …..http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/27/asia-pacific/south-korea-renews-license-of-second-oldest-nuclear-plant/#.VPDfBXyUcnk
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