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Pro nuclear expert replaces safety conscious seismic expert on Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency

Abe,-Shinzo-nukePro-nuclear expert replacing NRA commissioner who raised flag on quake risk THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 29 May 14,  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201405280023 Replacements for two outgoing commissioners of the Nuclear Regulation Authority suggest the Abe administration will find it easier to gain approval for restarts of the nation’s nuclear reactors.Few people in government circles and the nuclear industry will be sorry to see Kunihiko Shimazaki go. His successor is expected to more quickly give the green light to reactivate nuclear power plants.

 

Shimazaki, who is 68 and a professor of seismology, proved to be a thorn in the side of electric power companies with his calls for a reassessment of the force with which seismic waves and tsunami could pummel nuclear plants being considered for restarts. Kenzo Oshima, 71, a former undersecretary-general at the United Nations, is also stepping down. Both men are leaving because their terms expire in September.

 

The two newly named NRA commissioners are Satoru Tanaka, 64, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Tokyo, and Akira Ishiwatari, 61, a professor of geology at Tohoku University. Their terms are for five years. With Shimazaki out of the picture, the NRA will have to get by without a seismology expert to offer advice.
Tanaka once served as president of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, and clearly is a proponent of nuclear energy. He has been a professor since 1994 at the University of Tokyo, a respected base of nuclear engineering research in Japan. He has also served on committees related to nuclear energy set up by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, a staunch backer of the nuclear industry.
The business sector, notably electric power companies, griped that Shimazaki was hindering efforts to resume operations at nuclear plants idled since the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture. An executive with Kyushu Electric Power Co. summed up those sentiments by saying, “Shimazaki made us suffer.” Kyushu Electric had applied for a speedy inspection of its relatively problem-free Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture in its request to bring the facility back online. Shimazaki was in no mood to acquiesce without making Kyushu Electric put in some hard work. He told the utility to reconsider the maximum force of a quake that could strike the plant. It meant the utility had to take additional safety steps, effectively thwarting the company’s hopes of resuming operations in time for this summer when electricity demand peaks.
With memories of the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant still fresh, Shimazaki lashed out at electric power companies over their failure to take adequate measures to deal with towering tsunami that could devastate the coast of the Tohoku region. It is feared that in his remaining months as commissioner, Shimazaki will continue calling for higher estimates of expected quakes–which would delay NRA approval of reactor restarts.
On May 14, executives of the Kansai Economic Federation and Kyushu Economic Federation met with Katsuhiko Ikeda, the NRA secretary-general, to request that approval be given to resumed operations at nuclear plants as soon as possible. In government circles, officials had clearly grown weary of the way Shimazaki conducts business. “While tougher inspection standards were called for, Shimazaki kept raising the hurdle for inspections and he never reached a conclusion,” said one high-ranking administration official. At a May 9 meeting of a policy committee within the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the deputy policy chief, openly criticized Shimazaki when he said, “While it is acceptable to have seismologists on the NRA, the same cannot be said for someone who knows absolutely nothing about nuclear energy.”
With Tanaka as a commissioner, expectations are high that NRA approval of reactor restarts will become a formality. As a member of an advisory panel on energy policy when the Democratic Party of Japan held power, Tanaka came out in favor of maintaining the ratio of electricity generated through nuclear energy at about 20 percent. It was also recently learned that three years ago, Tanaka received about 1.6 million yen ($16,000) in research funds and remuneration from a nuclear plant manufacturer and a foundation linked to Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the stricken Fukushima plant. Tanaka told The Asahi Shimbun in a 2012 interview that no amount of self-reflection over the Fukushima nuclear accident would be adequate considering the scale of the disaster. At the same time, he said, “Nuclear energy is still a technology that is needed in terms of energy security as well as for its contributions to the industrial sector.”
Hideyuki Ban, a co-director of the anti-nuclear Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, said, “I have doubts about whether someone who has long been a proponent of nuclear energy can become thoroughly involved in regulation.” He said Tanaka’s appointment could damage trust in the NRA. The other new commissioner, Ishiwatari, has only tepid links to the nuclear industry. Those who have worked with him in the NRA describe him as an able coordinator with a keen sense of the task in hand. Applications have been filed with the NRA to reactivate 18 reactors at 11 nuclear power plants.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Japan, politics, safety | Leave a comment

Continued cover-up of health effects of Fukushima radiation

Cancer Expert in Fukushima: “There has undoubtedly been radiation poisoning, people shouldn’t be living here”; Officials only focus is covering up crisis — TV: On playground, we found radiation levels 2,000% higher than displayed by gov’t monitoring post (VIDEO) http://enenews.com/cancer-expert-fukushima-undoubtedly-radiation-poisoning-people-be-living-officials-only-focused-covering-crisis-tv-playground-found-radiation-levels-2000-higher-nearby-govt-monitoring-post-displaye

Fukushima VICE

Vice on HBO, Season 2 Episode 10, May 24, 2014 (at 3:45 in):

Dr. Masamichi Nishio, MD, Hokkaido Cancer Center radiologist who was examining children at elementary school 40 miles from Fukushima Daiichi: There has undoubtedly been radiation poisoning, so people should not be living here. But the government will not say that out loud. All they wanted to do was cover-up what had been done. There is a lot of secrecy. […]
Kayoko Hashimoto, Fukushima resident: The figures don’t add up. They don’t match what the government is saying.
Vikram Ghandi, Vice: The whole concept of these stationary Geiger counters becomes suspect when only a few feet away the readings are twice as high. And when you move even further away, those government monitors start feeling completely irrelevant. Over here by the edge of the school… Whoa. Sh*t. So the reading is now 3.5 [microSv/hr]. That level is 20 times higher than the monitoring post around the corner — on the playground, at an elementary school.

Vikram Gandh’s ‘Debrief’May 24, 2014:

Shane Smith, Vice: Vikram Gandhi went to Fukushima, where levels of radiation have been drastically downplayed by the Japanese government. […]
Ghandi: Our Geiger counter was reading measurements up to 900 times the measurements we found in Tokyo.

Watch the VICE broadcast here and the ‘Debrief’ here

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014 | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission to end plan to accelerate removal of spent fuel rods

highly-recommendedNuclear Power Regulator Sticks Its Head Further into the Ground http://blog.ucsusa.org/spent-fuel-decision-nrc-550 Union of Concerned Scientists,  physicist & co-director, Global Security  May 28, 2014 An ostrich is a clichéd symbol of people making bird-brained
decisions that ignore reality. But it’s hard to think of something more apt for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) sometimes.

 spent-fuel-rodsTake its most recent decision: The commissioners voted 4 to 1 to end consideration of a plan to accelerate the transfer of the growing stocks of nuclear waste at U.S. nuclear plants from spent fuel pools to safer dry casks. (The lone vote for safety was cast by the NRC Chair—Allison Macfarlane.) Moreover, the Commission said it didn’t want to think about it anymore, ordering that “no further generic assessments be pursued related to possible regulatory actions to require the expedited transfer of spent fuel to dry cask storage.”

NRC-jpg

That anti-science position is difficult to fathom. Given the potential consequences of an accident or terrorist attack on a spent fuel pool, you would hope the body responsible for ensuring public safety would want to know all it could, and use that information to reduce nuclear risks.

Risks from Spent Fuel Pools

After all, most spent fuel pools at reactors at U.S. plants contain much more nuclear material than the reactor core itself—in many cases more than 5 times as much. And as I noted in an earlier post, even the NRC believes that poses a huge risk. A recent study by NRC staff considered an accident scenario at the Peach Bottom nuclear plant in Pennsylvania that resulted in a fire of the spent fuel rods and the release of radioactivity that, on average, would lead to more than 17,000 cancer deaths, 9,400 square miles of evacuated territory—an area the size of New Hampshire—and more than 4 million people displaced long-term.

So everyone agrees the consequences of such an accident are potentially huge. And in such a case, transferring spent fuel out of the pools and putting it in dry casks would make an astounding difference.

In particular, the same NRC staff study compared the consequences of an unmitigated spent fuel fire in the Peach Bottom pool today with the consequences assuming all spent fuel that had been in the pool longer than 5 years had been moved to dry casks. It found that after the transfer, the number of cancer deaths would be 10 times smaller and the amount of evacuated territory and number of long-term displaced people would both be 50 times smaller.

The NRC’s “Flawed and Incomplete Analysis”

So, what was behind the Commission’s decision?

text-risk-assessmentIt decided that while the consequences of such an event might be horrific, the probability of it happening was so low that it didn’t need to take additional steps to lessen those consequences. You would think it must have pretty convincing evidence of that fact to make such a decision and decree that it was time to stop looking at it further.

You would be wrong.

People—including staffers at the NRC itself—have identified a lot of problems with the analysis that backs up the NRC’s conclusion (see, eg, here and here). My colleague Ed Lyman calls the analysis “flawed and incomplete.” But you don’t need to get into the details of the study to find a glaring omission that undermines its conclusions: The analysis did not include the possibility of a terrorist attack on a spent fuel pool. Even if a nuclear plant is operating perfectly, such an attack could lead to exactly the kind of “loss of coolant” accident described above. And in a 2006 study, the National Academy of Sciences calls out spent fuel pools as something “knowledgeable terrorists might choose to attack.”

So the crucial piece of logic leading to the NRC’s wrong-headed decision is completely unconvincing—certainly not something you should bet the safety of tens of thousands of Americans on.

Ostriches sticking their heads in the ground appeals to our sense of absurdity—the idea that it thinks it can be safe by refusing to look at whatever risk is at hand. That absurdity becomes tragic when the NRC does the same thing, and people’s lives are at stake. About the author: David Wright is a physicist and the co-director of the Global Security Program. He is a nationally known expert on the technical aspects of missile defense systems, missile proliferation, and space weapons. See David’s full bio.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

USA some funds authorised to go from nuclear weapons to veterans care

House Bill Shifts Some Nuclear Weapons Funds To Pay for Veterans Care Defense OneDouglas P. Guarino 27 May 14, The version of the fiscal 2015 defense authorization bill that the House approved last week would cut some controversial nuclear weapons spending in a bid to help veterans.

The legislation — which authorizes but does not appropriate funds for military-related items — includes two related amendments offered by Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich. Together they would cut $7.5 million out of the $643 million that the Obama administration requested for controversial efforts to extend the life of B-61 gravity bombs, many of which are stationed in Europe.

The two provisions also would take $7.5 million out of projects to refurbish the Navy’s W-76 nuclear warhead — more than half of the funding boost that the Republican leadership of the House Armed Services Committee had sought to authorize for the program. The bill would allow up to $266.3 million in spending on W-76 refurbishment, still $7.1 million more than the Obama administration requested.

The money — along with $15 million that would be cut from the Navy’s shipbuilding budget — would fund two initiatives:

One would create “a training program to increase and improve financial literacy and training for incoming and out-going military personnel,” according to the legislation. According to a statement Kildee provided to Global Security Newswire, this would help address a problem of “unscrupulous lenders” targeting service members.

The other would require the Pentagon to commission a third-party study meant to “identify deficiencies in the treatment of wounded warriors and offer recommendations to the secretary of Defense and Congress to improve such treatment,” the measure states.

The House approval of Kildee’s amendments comes amid furor on Capitol Hill over revelations about former service members who died while on a Veterans Affairs waiting list for medical appointments in Phoenix.

According to Kildee’s staff, “at a time when our wounded service members are not getting the adequate care they deserve, it is a misplaced priority to spend more money on such nuclear refurbishment programs for outdated weapons systems, especially when the Pentagon has not even asked for it.”

The House also approved, by a 224-199 vote, an amendment offered by Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., that would require the Congressional Budget Office to update its report on the projected costs of U.S. nuclear forces on an annual basis. The move follows a report earlier this year by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies arguing that the current plan for modernizing the arsenal is too costly to implement.

The Republican-led House Rules Committee, however, blocked floor debate on an amendment offered by Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., and John Garamendi, D-Calif., calling for more in-depth analysis on the need to maintain all three components of the so-called nuclear triad.

The provision would have required the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office to study the justification and rationale for maintaining the three components, which include bombs that can be dropped by aircraft, along with ballistic missiles both at sea and on land. The measure would also have instructed theGAO study and to identify any excess costs that could be trimmed……..http://www.defenseone.com/politics/2014/05/house-bill-shifts-some-nuclear-weapons-funds-pay-veterans-care/85261/

 

May 29, 2014 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Risk of further explosions at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP)

safety-symbol1Flag-USANuclear-waste facility on high alert over risk of new explosions, Nature,
US repository scrambles to seal off barrels containing cat-litter buffer thought to be responsible for February accident. 
Declan Butler 27 May 2014 Time bombs may be ticking at the United States’ only deep geological repository for nuclear waste. US authorities concluded last week that at least 368 drums of waste at the site could be susceptible to the chemical reaction suspected to have caused a drum to rupture there in February. That accident caused radioactive material to spill into the repository and leak into the environment above ground.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico, is mined out of a salt bed 655 metres underground, and stores low- and medium-level military nuclear waste, containing long-lived, man-made radioactive elements such as plutonium and americium. The suspect drums contain nitrates and cellulose, which are thought to have reacted to cause the explosion in February, and are located in two of the repository’s eight vast storage rooms — 313 in panel 6, which has already been filled, and 55 in the partly filled panel 7, where the February accident occurred.

To mitigate the threat of further exploding drums, the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) in Santa Fe issued an order on 20 May giving the US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Nuclear Waste Partnership — the contractor that operates the WIPP site — until 30 May to come up with a plan to “expedite” the sealing of panel 6 and part of panel 7. It is not yet clear when the panels will be sealed, as that will depend on how long it takes to ensure that the sealing is done safely, says Jim Winchester, a spokesman for the NMED………

In addition to the drums at the WIPP, another 57 containing the suspect mix are still in temporary storage at the LANL. On 19 May, the NMED told the DOE and the LANL that they had two days to present a plan to secure the drums. In their response on 21 May, the LANL and the DOE said that the drums were being transferred to a tent fitted with fire-control and high-efficiency particulate air filtration to contain any radioactive particles in the event of an accident. They added that air radiation levels and the temperature of the drums were being monitored, and that the drums were being inspected hourly for signs of rupture.

The WIPP has been closed since the February accident and will reopen only “when it is safe to do so”, according to a 22 May statement from the DOE. The accident is still under investigation, and parts of the underground repository are still contaminated with radioactivity. The DOE added that current assumptions and precautions about the hazards of operating the WIPP are being “evaluated and revised”. http://www.nature.com/news/nuclear-waste-facility-on-high-alert-over-risk-of-new-explosions-1.15290

May 29, 2014 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Tepco’s hopes that a giant ice wall will solve radiation leak problem

ice-wall-FukushimaJapan building giant ice wall at Fukushima after all as TEPCO gets go ahead RT May 28, 2014 Japan’s nuclear authority will allow Fukushima’s nuclear power plant operator, TEPCO, to build an underground ice wall isolating radioactive water build-up. This is despite earlier concerns that the wall might cause the ground to sink.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) no longer has reservations about the 32 billion yen (US$314 million) government-funded project, in which a giant “wall of ice” is to be built around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s four reactors, Kyodo news agency reported.

The plan, which involves 1.5 kilometers of pipes with coolant powerful enough to make the earth around it freeze, earlier raised concerns that it could cause trouble by making the ground near the reactors less stable.

TEPCO officials have, however, persuaded NRA experts that the ground around the ice wall may sink only up to 16 mm, posing no threat to its stability.

“I think we have been able to confirm today the scale of ground sinking, which is what we have most feared as side effects of building the wall,” NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa told Kyodo.

While accepting the operator’s explanation, the NRA still has issues to discuss with TEPCO, which include ways to accurately measure the level of radioactive water accumulating inside the reactor buildings. The issue of contaminated groundwater seeping through the ground and into the ocean has for years been one of the major problems faced by TEPCO. ……

TEPCO is now hoping that the giant ice wall will isolate the problem. While this engineering solution has been used before, such as for preventing the flooding of Russia’s St. Petersburg underground system, the Fukushima ice wall may be the first project of such a large scale. http://rt.com/news/162100-fukushima-ice-wall-tepco/

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Fukushima 2014, Japan | Leave a comment

Call for Catholic Universities to take up cause of nuclear disarmament

Catholic Universities and the Nuclear Threat, Peace Policy, 
 May 28, 2014 Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
Fifty-one years ago, Pope John XXIII issued his encyclical Pacem in Terris, which declared that “the arms race should cease” and urged that “all come to an agreement on a fitting program of disarmament.”

In revitalizing the Catholic voice first raised by Pope John, Catholic universities play a special role. We have an obligation to use our scholarly abilities to research and teach on the most pressing issues of life and death — including on the catastrophic power of nuclear weapons. We also have the opportunity to work in collaboration with the Bishops of our Church, the ethicists and academics from other universities, and with national security experts who’ve held the highest positions of responsibility in the United States government……….

universities should serve as networks of discussion and sources of knowledge and talent and training, able to explore and address the practical, technical, and ethical issues that arise on the way to a global ban.

Albert Einstein famously said that the advent of nuclear weapons “has changed everything but our thinking.” It is the task of the religious leaders, distinguished statesmen, university leaders and scholars to begin to change our thinking.

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., is president of the University of Notre Dame. http://peacepolicy.nd.edu/2014/05/28/catholic-universities-and-the-nuclear-threat/

May 29, 2014 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Public trust at a low ebb in Japan, as staff of Nuclear Regulation Agency changes

flag-japanTEPCO public trust remains low as Japan shuffles nuclear watchdog http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asiapacific/tepco-public-trust/1125884.html The Japanese government announced it will replace two of its five officials on the Nuclear Regulation Authority, while the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) is still grappling with low public trust. TOKYO: Japan’s government has announced it will replace two of its five members on the Nuclear Regulation Authority which determines if a nuclear plant is ready for a restart.

Speculation is rising that the government is removing the seismic expert responsible for actually beefing up the requirements for nuclear plants. The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is eager to spread the message that the Kashiwazaki Kariwa (KK), one of the world’s largest nuclear plants, is ready to be restarted after having been offline since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee deputy chair Lady Barbara Judge, who was the former chair of the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, supports an energy mix that includes nuclear power even in Japan where the risk of a massive earthquake is high.

In Japan, many continue to oppose the restart of nuclear power plants. There are lawsuits taking place all over Japan not only against nuclear power plants but also uranium-related facilities. In May, a local court ruled for the first time against the restart of Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture.

“In a lawsuit to stop the Oi nuclear plant, the historic ruling was based on the fact that the risk cannot be controlled by humans” said Tamotsu Sugenami, secretariat of the Takagi Fund for Citizen Science.

“Immediately, those who support nuclear energy began a campaign stating that zero risk is an old way of thinking. We cannot tolerate this.”

Aside from the technical safety concerns, public trust in TEPCO also remains low. “They (TEPCO) put little films on their websites on what’s going on,” said Lady Judge.

“They’re trying to explain to the public what they’re doing inside of walls of power plants which is new. And that’s more important than anything in terms of regaining public trust.”

TEPCO is aware of its reputation problem but there is also the issue of compensation.

Co-author of the book “It’s necessary to dissolve TEPCO for the revival of the Japanese economy” Hideaki Takemura claims the government has bankrolled TEPCO with the banks pumping in some 2 trillion yen to salvage the company.

He said: “There has been no compensation from (TEPCO’s) own pocket. It’s using the government money to compensate the victims and deal with the accident. There is no company as irresponsible as that.”

There are clearly many questions in Japan’s ongoing nuclear debate but there is no question that the Abe government is as keen as ever to get the country’s nuclear power plants back online.

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Japan | Leave a comment

Curtains for Autralian uranium miner Paladin’s mine in Malawi

Paladin to shut its uranium mine, Australian Mining,  27 May, 2014 Cole Latimer Paladin has announced it will cease production at its Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi. It comes after the miner advised it would place the operation in to care and maintenance earlier this year. According to Paladin it is ceasing production “due to reasons beyond the company’s control and related to the depressed uranium prices”. On May 21 it halted all operations at the mine, and will now cease supplying uranium to the global market, causing a drop of around 3.3 million pounds of supply per annum. “The outcome is an unfortunate but direct consequence of the continuing deterioration in the uranium price,” the company said in a statement. “Certain estimates now place up to 60% of current annual global production with costs above the current spot price, which is unsustainable.”…..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/paladin-to-shut-its-uranium-mine

May 29, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Malawi | Leave a comment

Canadian MP calls for caution on underground nuclear waste storage near Great Lakes

Lake-Huron,-Bruce-County,-OMasse calls for action on underground nuclear waste site near Great Lakes, The Windsor Star,  Dave Battagello  May 27, 2014  MP Brian Masse (NDP Windsor-West) will table a motion this week expressing concern over a proposed underground nuclear waste facility on the edge of the Great Lakes which critics say has potential to taint the waterway and drinking water.

“We don’t get a second chance on this,” he said following a press conference in Ottawa. “What we are trying to do is get a more full and robust review of nuclear storage around the Great Lakes.

“Several organizations are coming forward confronting (Ontario Power Generation’s) plan at the Bruce Nuclear Site as being a danger to the environment.”

The planned project is to construct and operate a nuclear disposal site over half a kilometre deep in the earth just north of Kincardine on the grounds of the Bruce site — and one kilometre from Lake Huron. The facility would store “low and intermediate” nuclear waste from operations of OPG-owned nuclear generation plants at Bruce, Pickering and Darlington.

There are several above ground nuclear waste storage sites near the Great Lakes, but environmentalists and politicians fear having it stored below ground makes it nearly impossible to address an accident. They say the impact would be devastating if any waste leaks into the Great Lakes……..

Masse hopes by tabling his motion it will bring the nuclear storage issue at Bruce to “a national level” and heighten awareness about potential impacts to the world’s largest freshwater supply.

“We want to ensure the assessment procedures around nuclear storage are strong enough,” he said. “We want to see if there are other ways to deal with this nuclear waste than just this one option.”

A large percentage of opposition to the OPG’s underground nuclear storage plan has come from the U.S. side of the border, Masse said.

“They have a law not to allow this stuff within 10 miles of the Great Lakes,” he said. “The Americans are concerned. This is not a moot issue to them by any means.”…….http://blogs.windsorstar.com/2014/05/27/masse-calls-for-action-in-ottawa-on-nuclear-waste-site-next-to-great-lakes/

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Canada, wastes | 2 Comments

USA House approves, by one vote, policy to maintain nuclear missile triad

missile-moneyHouse Bill Shifts Some Nuclear Weapons Funds To Pay for Veterans Care Defense OneDouglas P. Guarino 27 May 14 “……..The House approved by voice vote an amendment offered by Rep. Steve Daines, R-Mont., — whose home state hosts ground-based missile silos — that would make it “the policy of the United States to operate, sustain and modernize or replace the triad” in its entirety.

The House bill also contains language, to which the White House objects, that would require that every intercontinental ballistic missile silo currently containing a deployed missile be kept operational.

At press time, all of the potential discrepancies with the House bill and the Senate version of the annual defense authorization bill were not yet clear. The Senate Armed Services Committee completed drafting its version of the bill on Thursday, but had not yet released the full text of the legislation.

One apparent difference is that the Senate bill would authorize $365 million for the Cooperative Threat Reduction program — the entire amount that the Obama administration requested. TheCTR program — which secures and dismantles potential weapons of mass destruction throughout the world that are considered to be a threat to the United States — would be cut by $10.5 million under the House bill.

Unlike the House bill, the Senate legislation would also provide $346 million — $145 million more than the administration requested — to continue construction of a controversial facility in South Carolina that would convert excess bomb-grade plutonium into nuclear fuel. The administration is looking to suspend construction of the facility while it explores other, possibly cheaper, methods of disposing of the plutonium.

Some lawmakers are questioning the administration’s cost estimates, however, and have suggested it should be able to make a decision in less than the 18 months it has projected. Senate appropriators at a budget hearing earlier this month gave National Nuclear Security Administration officials two weeks to come up with new ways to make the original mixed-oxide fuel conversion plan cost less.

According to NNSA spokesman Derrick Robinson, administration officials did have a follow-up meeting with Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. last week. It was “a substantive conversation that discussed a range of options and challenges, which included a discussion of MOXcosts and options,” he said.

Robinson did not provide any revised cost projections. http://www.defenseone.com/politics/2014/05/house-bill-shifts-some-nuclear-weapons-funds-pay-veterans-care/85261/

May 29, 2014 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Protecting Whistleblowers – Free Mordechi Vanunu and others!

http://www.frontlineclub.com/protecting-whistleblowers/

foi-logo_main

Tuesday 17 June 2014, 7:00 PM

This event is organised by Amnesty International’s International Secretariat.

Governments often fail to protect whistleblowers and instead subject them to various forms of retaliation, including prosecution, for disclosing information governments wrongly want to keep secret. This includes information about human rights violations.

A panel of speakers with first-hand knowledge of these issues will talk about the experience of whistleblowers who face retaliation for their actions. They will explore how whistleblowers can be protected, and by extension protect the public’s right to information. This includes implementing measures such as those laid out in the Global Principles on National Security and the Right to Information (“Tshwane Principles”). These principles, which gained the support of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, provide critical guidance for ensuring that the public’s ‘right to know’ is protected.

Chaired by Michael Garcia Bochenek, senior director of international law and policy at Amnesty International.

The panel:

Frank La Rue has been the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression since 2008. He has worked extensively on a range of freedom of opinion and expression issues, including the links between the right to access to information and the right to truth. La Rue participated in the development of the Tshwane Principles. He has worked on human rights for over 30 years and is the founder of the Center for Legal Action for Human Rights (CALDH) in Washington DC and Guatemala. He also brought the first genocide case against the military dictatorship in Guatemala and has previously served as a presidential commissioner for human rights in Guatemala, as a human rights adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, as president of the governing board of the Centro-American Institute of Social Democracy Studies and as a consultant to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Mordechai Vanunu is a former nuclear technician at Israel’s nuclear plant near Dimona. He spent 18 years in prison in Israel, 11 of which in solitary confinement, for revealing details of the country’s nuclear arsenal to the British newspaper, The Sunday Times, in 1986. He was abducted by Israeli secret service (Mossad) agents in Italy in 1986 and secretly taken to Israel. Ten years after serving his sentence, he continues to live under severe restrictions which prevent him from leaving Israel, and ban him from entering a consulate or embassy or coming with 500 meters of international borders, border passages, harbours or airports; and require him to seek permission before contacting foreign nationals. His current restrictions are due for renewal in May 2014. In 2010 Vanunu was awarded the Carl von Ossietzky Medal awarded by the International League for Human Rights (ILHR) to individuals or groups for their defence of human rights and in the spirit of Carl von Ossietzky’s work for human rights and peace. His restrictions prevented him from receiving the prize in Germany.

Peter Hounam is a British investigative journalist who has worked for The Sunday Times, The Mirror, the London Evening Standard, and the BBC, and has also published several books including The Woman from Mossad: The Story of Mordechai Vanunu and the Israeli Nuclear Program. Hounam interviewed Mordechai Vanunu in Australia in 1986 and, with other members of The Sunday Times Insight Team, investigated his story of the inside workings of Israel’s Dimona nuclear plant. The story was published that September but beforehand Vanunu was abducted by Israeli secret service (Mossad). On behalf of The Sunday Times and the BBC, Hounam went to Israel for Vanunu‘s release from his 18-year prison sentence in April 2004. He was arrested the following May by plainclothes officers of the Israel security agency, Shin Bet, while working on a documentary about Vanunu, allegedly for nuclear ‘spying’. The Jerusalem district court imposed a gag order preventing further details of the arrest being disclosed but after international protests he was released without charge the next day, though 10 years later he is still banned from returning to Israel.

Kathleen McClellan works for the US Government Accountability Project (GAP) as National Security and Human Rights deputy director. GAP is a leading whistleblower protection and advocacy organisation, which advocates for cases including Edward Snowden. McClellan supports national security and intelligence community whistleblowers, with a focus on the issues of torture, surveillance, excessive secrecy and political discrimination. She has represented whistleblowers from the National Security Agency (NSA), Central Intelligence Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security, representing their interests in forums that include the Offices of Inspectors General, the Merit System Protection Board (MSPB), the Office of Special Counsel and federal court. Working with National Security and Human Rights Director Jesselyn Radack, she has represented NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake and CIA whistleblower John Kiriakou.

Nancy Hollander is lead counsel for Chelsea Manning on appeal. She is an internationally recognised criminal defence lawyer in the US firm of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Urias and Ward P.A. as well as being an associate tenant with Doughty Street Chambers in London. Her work is largely devoted to representing individuals and organisations accused of crimes, including those involving national security issues. She has also been counsel in numerous civil cases, forfeitures and administrative hearings, and has argued and won a case involving religious freedom in the United States Supreme Court. Hollander served as a consultant to the defence in a high profile terrorism case in Ireland, assisted counsel in other international cases and represents two prisoners at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base. She has qualified as a lead counsel for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and for the list of counsel for the International Criminal Court. She has written extensively on these and other criminal law topics.

Lieutenant Colonel the Reverend Nicholas Mercer was admitted as a solicitor in 1990, and commissioned into the Army Legal Service in 1991, serving in Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cyprus and Germany. Later, as the former legal advisor to the UK army in Iraq, he revealed information about the UK’s complicity in the abuse of detainees in Iraq which he described as “institutional”. He made recommendations to the UK authorities to ensure the protection of detainees from torture and other ill-treatment to which, as he later said, no response or action was taken. He was named Liberty Human Rights Lawyer of the Year 2011.

Read more:
http://www.amnesty.org/en/news/israel-lift-ludicrous-restrictions-whistleblower-vanunu-decade-after-release-2014-04-16
http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/usa-must-not-hunt-down-whistleblower-edward-snowden-2013-06-24
http://www.amnesty.org/en/appeals-for-action/chelseamanning
http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/MDE15/057/2004/en/490abaa8-d5cb-11dd-bb24-1fb85fe8fa05/mde150572004en.html

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Number of children in Japan falls to new low

So, some children want to study in uncontaminated areas although their parents are against it. One junior high school girl said she would want to bear children when grown up, so she felt that she should leave Fukushima as soon as possible.  from ; https://nuclear-news.net/2014/05/29/the-hidden-truth-about-fukushima-children-families-and-nuclear-workers-suffer-in-silence/

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-05-05/an-number-of-children-in-japan-falls-to-new-low/5429520

Updated May 05, 2014 12:32:16

The Japanese government says the number of children in Japan has fallen to a new low as the country celebrates Children’s Day.

There were an estimated 16.33 million children aged under 15 as of April 1, down 160,000 from a year earlier, according to Japan’s internal affairs and communications ministry.

It was the 33rd straight annual decline and the lowest level since records began in 1950, the ministry said.

The ministry said children accounted for just 12.8 per cent of the population.

In contrast, the ratio of people aged 65 or older was at a record high of 25.6 per cent.

Of major countries with a population of at least 40 million, Japan had the lowest ratio of children to the total population – compared with 19.5 per cent for the United States and 16.4 per cent for China.

The proportion of people aged 65 or over is forecast to reach nearly 40 per cent of Japan’s population in 2060, the government said.

AFP

 

May 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Putin tells St. Petersburg economic forum that Russia to pursue same old nuclear and fossil fuel energy projects

Published on May 27, 2014 by
http://bellona.org/news/renewable-energy/2014-05-putin-tells-st-petersburg-economic-forum-russia-pursue-old-nuclear-fossil-fuel-energy-projectsputin ecoforum
ST. PETERSBURG – Russian authorities will continue to rely on a bright atomic future for the country as well as environmental and technical leadership in drilling the Arctic shelf, as Moscow continues to turn its back on the worldwide boom in the renewable energy sector and place its bets on nuclear power and fossil fuels.

At last week’s International Economic Forum in St. Petersburg, President Vladimir Putin met with the highest echelons of foreign and domestic business associations participating in the global economic summit and told them of Russia’s energy strategies.

Renewable Energy

Putin, in his role as president and former prime minister, has always held a skeptical view of renewable energy. He has consistently ignored progress of technologies in this sphere successfully demonstrated by other countries, and turned a blind eye to the rise of renewables in the energy mix of other countries.

In 2010, he announced that, “the only alternative to fossil fuels for today is nuclear energy. Other alternatives are merely monkeyshines.”

In 2013, Putin poked fun at wind energy, saying: “Here are wind powered electric stations. You know how loud they are and how they shake the ground around them. They produce such an effect that the worms jump out of the ground, to say nothing of the moles.”

Now, Putin has “begun to think” about the alternative that have already been deployed in the majority of the world’s countries: “Of course, we are now already thinking on perspective energy sources – on renewables, on hydropower, on solar, and are also working on in this direction. Our companies are earmarking funding on this, they have the support of the government in this work,” Putin announced at the summit.

However, as soon as he dispensed with that lip-service, he slipped into the following rhapsody extolling the virtues of fossil fuels: “At the same time […] everyone understands that energy consumption will be growing in the next 30 years, while the structure of primary sources of energy will not change. Therefore, we will focus on the production of hydrocarbons and the development of nuclear generation,” he said, according to the official transcript of his remarks.

Bellona adviser Larisa Bronder said that it is apparent Russia will continue places its bets on developing hydrocarbon production and nuclear energy. Government subsidization of traditional energy and the lack of a legislative base and norms for alternative energy are a significant hurdle to their development in Russia.

“For many years running, the portion of renewable energy in Russia has consisted of less than one percent,” said Bronder. “The lack of any kind of renewable growth doesn’t support that it will be at 4.5 percent of the energy balance.”

Nuclear Energy

Putin said with evident disappointment that nuclear accounts for only 16 percent of Russia’s energy mix.

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May 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bellona Murmansk roundtable takes on region’s most pressing environmental issues

smelting_plant_nikel

Published on May 28, 2014 by

Charles Digges translated and contributed to this article

http://bellona.org/news/industrial-pollution/2014-05-bellona-murmansk-roundtable-takes-regions-pressing-environmental-issues

MURMANSK – Legislative and executive representatives acknowledge the important role of environmental organizations in solving environmental issues, specifically industrial pollution. Ecologists, though, remain frustrated by the disinterest of industry to invest in the environmental sphere, and say their involvement should be a two way street.

Bellona yesterday arranged a roundtable discussion in Murmansk for non-profit organizations operating in the Barents Region to swap experience working toward solutions over industrial waste and cooperation with polluters, legislative and other government authorities and environmental monitoring agencies.

“By initiating an open discussion on such pressing problems for the whole Barents region, we were confident that the interest of many NGOs and monitoring agencies would be piqued,” said Larisa Bronder, an adviser on pollution issues with Bellona’s Oslo office who was in attendance in Murmansk.

Conference participants were surprised by the level of enthusiasm shown by the regional divisions of the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, and the Murmansk Parliament’s Environmental Committee to addressing these long-thorny issues. Less surprisingly, the Federal Service for Natural Resource Usage, or Rosprirodnadzor, again turned a cold shoulder on entering a dialogue with environmentalists.

Role of environmental organizations cannot be overestimated

Nataliya Leschinskaya, head of the Murmansk Parliament’s environmental committee – whose mandate includes liaising with local environmental groups – NGO and public involvement involvement in deciding environmental issues is critical.

“The role of non-governmental organizations in the decision of environmental problems is very important,” she told the round table. “I know first hand that solving ecological issues can only be done in consultation with the public. And I would like to thank all environmental organizations with whom we try to pursue effective cooperation in solving the regions problems.” She added that the environmental movement is particularly strong in Murmansk.

She enumerated numerous projects the regional parliament is discussing with environmentalists, among them safe oil transport, nuclear and radiation safety, development of Murmansk’s transport infrastructure, creation of the Khibin National Park, and others.

Renata Khardikova, a representative of Murmansk’s Regional Ministry of Natural Resources, cooperation between authorities and NGOs is an important tool in addressing environmental problems.

Environmentalists say official efforts fall short

That said the environmentalists themselves aired a laundry list of hurdles to their meaningful cooperation with authorities and environmental monitoring agencies.

According to Viktor Petrov, acting director of the Kola Center for the Defense of Nature (in Russian), there are no reciprocating mechanisms for cooperation with NGOs.

“There are no legal acts or administrative means for advancing the position of the public and NGOs to authorities,” Petrov said. “This can only be accomplished by personal ties: personally going to a concrete parliamentarian, to a bureaucrat at the Ministry, and explaining, for instance, our disagreement with this or that decision.”

Russia’s biggest federal agency ignores environmentalists

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May 29, 2014 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment