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Japan’s erroneus safety myth must not be reborn

Prospects for ending the crisis at the disaster site or laying the foundation for post-disaster rebuilding are nowhere in sight. We should not allow the propensity of nuclear insiders to rely on wishful thinking to come back to life. 

‘Wishful thinking’ of nuclear insiders must not be allowed to be reborn Asahi Shimbun By TOSHIHIDE UEDA/ Senior Staff Writer “……A joint survey conducted recently by The Asahi Shimbun Co. and Fukushima Broadcasting Co. showed that 69 percent of Fukushima Prefecture residents believed that little or no foundation has been laid for post-disaster rebuilding. That finding is not surprising at all.

Just as disaster areas remain in such a plight, a subcommittee of the industry ministry began meeting on Jan. 30 to discuss what energy sources should be used, and to what extent, to cover Japan’s electricity demand in the years to come.

“I believe Japan’s (nuclear) safety regulation system has become a global standard,” the minutes of the proceedings quote one former industry ministry official as saying during a subcommittee meeting. “I just hope the public will fully understand that safety standards that are at the world’s top level are now in place.”

Those remarks stupefied me.

In Japan, emergency evacuation plans have yet to be covered by the government’s safety screenings, and anti-terrorist measures are also slow in being worked out. And Japan is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.

Even if we had standards of the “world’s top level,” would that be enough? Well, the public remains unconvinced.

‘LAUGHABLE’ GOAL

The remarks probably only represented “wishful thinking” of the speaker, who hopes things will be like what he said.

It is the wishful thinking of stakeholders that is talked about in Japan’s nuclear policy–I have had that impression more than a few times during the many years I have covered the nuclear issue.

Such a reliance on wishful thinking has reigned over Japan’s nuclear power community since its cradle days.

Physicist Eizo Tajima (1913-1998), who was involved his entire life in Japan’s nuclear power development, wrote an autobiography, “Aru Genshi Butsurigakusha no Shogai” (Life of a nuclear physicist), published by Shin Jinbutsu Oraisha.

Tajima engaged in research for developing atomic bombs at the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research, today’s Riken research institute, during World War II. He served on the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, as one of the inaugural commissioners of the now-defunct Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, and in other posts in postwar years.

While serving on the JAEC, Tajima proposed adding a safety expert to the lineup of its permanent commissioners. When his proposal was rejected, he resigned as commissioner to protest the government’s attitude………

FORGOTTEN WARNING

The government warned itself against a reliance on wishful thinking at least once in the past, when it issued the 2000 White Paper on Nuclear Safety.

The making of that year’s white paper followed the 1999 criticality accident at JCO Co.’s Tokai works in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, during which three workers of the nuclear fuel processing company were exposed to large radiation doses, with two of them dying. The reliance of nuclear power community insiders on a “safety myth,” which assumed nuclear power was absolutely safe, came under heavy criticism.

“Why was an erroneous ‘safety myth’ formed?” the white paper asked, and cited “excessive confidence in track records,” “loss of memory of past accidents,” “wishes for absolute safety” and other reasons as potential factors.

But that warning was left to fade into oblivion……. Prospects for ending the crisis at the disaster site or laying the foundation for post-disaster rebuilding are nowhere in sight. We should not allow the propensity of nuclear insiders to rely on wishful thinking to come back to life. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/column/AJ201503240005

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March 27, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Diablo Canyon—An American nuclear plant with troubling similarities to Fukushima

Doomsday Clock Moves Closer to Midnight As California’s Last Active Nuke Plant Puts Millions at Risk, Eco Watch Greg Schwartz | March 24, 2015 Humanity’s clock is ticking but few in power seem to recognize how late it’s getting. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has been keeping time though with their “Doomsday Clock,” established in 1947 to convey threats to humanity and the planet in the new atomic age launched by the Manhattan Project two years before. Widely recognized as an indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, global climate change and other emerging technologies, the Doomsday Clock was moved forward two minutes in January to 11:57 p.m. It’s the closest the clock has been to midnight since the height of the Cold War in 1984……..

Global climate change and the nuclear weapons industry were listed as the primary threats, but the Bulletin’s analysis also cited “the leadership failure on nuclear power.” The Bulletin noted that “the international community has not developed coordinated plans to meet the challenges that nuclear power faces in terms of cost, safety, radioactive waste management, and proliferation risk.” The triple meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant in 2011 brought the issue to global attention after an unpredictable earthquake stronger than the plant was built to withstand overwhelmed the reactors in conjunction with a massive tsunami. This unprecedented disaster even led the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to establish a Fukushima Lessons Learned Division. But the situation at California’s last remaining active nuclear plant has generated widespread concern about whether the NRC has learned anything at all from Fukushima.

Diablo Canyon—An American nuclear plant with troubling similarities to Fukushima Continue reading

March 27, 2015 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

50% of power from renewables in Scotland 2014

renewable_energyScotland: 50% powered by renewables in 2014 http://www.edie.net/news/6/Scotland–50–powered-by-renewables/ 26 March 2015, source edie newsroom Lucinda Dann
Scotland has met its 50% renewable electricity target a year ahead of schedule after a surge of 11.7% in the past year alone.

Figures published today (26 March) by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) for renewable energy generation in 2014 reveal that 49.6% of gross electricity consumption came from renewable sources in Scotland last year – an increase from 44.4% in 2013.

The figures show that renewables generated 32% more electricity than any other single source of power in Scotland.

In total, the renewables sector generated a record 10.3TWh, compared to 7.8TWh2 from nuclear generation – previously Scotland’s main source of electricity. The figures also show that coal and gas-fired electricity generation produced 5.6TWh and 1.4TWh respectively over the same six-month period.  Historic  Wind made the most significant contribution to the total with 11,592 GWh, up 4% from 2013, and making it another record breaking year for wind. Bioenergy saw the biggest increase in output – rising 11.7% in the last year.

Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said: “The announcement that renewables have become Scotland’s main source of electricity is historic news for our country, and shows the investment made in the sector is helping to deliver more power than ever before to our homes and businesses.

“Every unit of power generated from renewables means less carbon emitted from the burning of fossil fuels, decreases our reliance on imported energy and supports jobs and investment in communities across Scotland.”

Top priority  Energy Minister Fergus Ewing added: “2014 was also another record breaking year for wind output and the Scottish Government remains committed to continuing this upward trend. The recent independent survey by YouGov shows further support for the development of wind power, with an increase to 71 per cent in public backing.

“The Scottish Government has made its energy policy a top priority and has achieved great progress, despite being limited in terms of its devolved responsibilities. We look forward to proposals for more powers encompassing the necessary levers to deliver Scottish priorities.”

WWF Scotland said that for Scotland to meet its next renewable target in 2020, the offshore wind sector would have a major role to play.

WWF Scotland’s head of policy Dr Sam Gardner said: “To ensure the continued growth of this industry, attract supply chain investment, and continue to bring down costs, the next UK Government must provide a stable and sustained funding pipeline for offshore wind and clear volume signals in the 2020s.”

Scotland is significantly ahead of the rest of the UK, where renewables still only account for a fifth of all UK electricity. However this increase in greener energy generation has still contributed to an 8% drop in total emissions.

March 27, 2015 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Daunting problem of Fukushima’as continuing flood of radioactive water

Fukushima cleanup: What to do with a torrent of radioactive water Getting a handle on the Fukushima disaster recovery, let alone permanently cleaning up the site, has been extraordinarily difficult. The problem is the daily flood of rainwater that flows downhill towards the sea, rushing into the mangled radioactive site.Christian Science Monitor By Nick CunninghamOilPrice.com MARCH 24, 2015 More than four years after the catastrophic tsunami that crippled several nuclear reactors in Fukushima, the Japanese utility that owns the site is struggling to deal with a continuous flood of radioactive water….getting a handle on the mess, let alone permanently cleaning up the site, has been extraordinarily difficult. The problem is the daily flood of rainwater that flows downhill towards the sea, rushing into the mangled radioactive site. An estimated 300 tons of water reaches the building each day, and then becomes contaminated. TEPCO, the utility that owns the site, has been furiously building above ground storage tanks for radioactive water. Storing the water prevents it from being discharged into the sea, but this Sisyphean task does nothing to ultimately solve the problem as the torrent of water never ends. TEPCO has already put more than 500,000 tons of radioactive water in storage tanks. (Related: France’s Areva Lost $5.6 Billion In 2014 – Is This The End?)…..

Fukushima-water-tanks-2013

In fact, much of what TEPCO has to do to clean up the disaster area is daunting. TEPCO actually has to dig up radioactive soil and remove it, putting it in an interim storage facility. The idea is to make Fukushima inhabitable again, rather than indefinitely leave it as a radioactive and toxic no-go zone like the immediate surroundings of Chernobyl. When or if that can happen is anybody’s guess. The removal of radioactive soil began recently http://www.csmonitor.com/Environment/Energy-Voices/2015/0324/Fukushima-cleanup-What-to-do-with-a-torrent-of-radioactive-water

March 27, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment

Fukushima food products mislabeled

plate-radiationTAIWAN: 283 MISLABELED JAPANESE FOOD PRODUCTS ORIGINATED NEAR FUKUSHIMA, Fukushima Update, MARCH 25, 2015 By Stephanie Chao / chinapost.com More than 283 Japanese food products imported from the radiation-stricken areas near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster were found to be relabeled as having come from other areas of Japan and sold to local customers, authorities said yesterday.

Officials from New Taipei City’s Department of Health, as well as the Food and Drug Administration and other law-enforcement authorities, seized the mislabeled products, although a substantial portion had already been sold to consumers.

Authorities inspected warehouses in New Taipei City belonging to food companies such as Sheng Yu (盛裕), Li Tuo (勵拓), Sun Friend (上煬) and Tai Crown (太冠).

Health Department officials said Sheng Yu imported soy sauce labeled “Tokyo-made” last month. In reality, they were manufactured in areas that have import restrictions, such as Chiba (千葉), Gumma (群馬), Fukushima (福島), Ibaraki (茨城) and Tochigi (櫪木) prefectures.

Nineteen products originated from areas exposed to radiation and five other products have expired, the department said.

The department also investigated Li Tuo, Sun Friend and Tai Crown’s warehouses in Taishan, Xinzhuang and Xindian districts. They discovered several products from areas with import restrictions: seven from Li Tuo, 25 from Sun Friend and 19 from Tai Crown.

Further investigation revealed downstream companies that stock the imported products include well-known Japanese department stores, food chains and boutiques, including Wellcome (頂好), JPMed (日藥本舖), Matsusei (松青), Shin Kong Mitsukoshi (新光三越), B&Q (特力屋) and HOLA.

Officials have discovered a total of 2,391 kilograms of problematic products and will continue to investigate……..http://fukushimaupdate.com/taiwan-283-mislabeled-japanese-food-products-originated-near-fukushima/

March 27, 2015 Posted by | Japan, secrets,lies and civil liberties | 1 Comment

Canada’s Orwellian muzzling of science writers

6ceed-japan-government-officially-censors-truth-about-fukushima-nuclear-radiation-disasterflag-canadaTightened science muzzle is ‘Orwellian’ July 3, 2012 Vancouver Sun, Sept 13, 2010 By Margaret Munro, Postmedia News   https://margaretmunro.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/tightened-science-muzzle-is-orwellian/

The Harper government has tightened the muzzle on federal scientists, going so far as to control when and what they can say about floods at the end of the last ice age.

Natural Resources Canada (NRC) scientists were told this spring they need “pre-approval” from Minister Christian Paradis’ office to speak with journalists. Their “media lines” also need ministerial approval, say documents obtained by Postmedia News through access-to-information legislation.

The documents say the “new” rules went into force in March and reveal how they apply to not only to contentious issues including the oilsands, but benign subjects such as floods that occurred 13,000 years ago.

They also give a glimpse of how Canadians are being cut off from scientists whose work is financed by taxpayers, critics say, and is often of significant public interest — be it about fish stocks, genetically modified crops or mercury pollution in the Athabasca River.

“It’s Orwellian,” says Andrew Weaver, a climatologist at the University of Victoria. The public, he says, has a right to know what federal scientists are discovering and learning………

Environment Canada and Health Canada now tightly control media access to researchers and orchestrate interviews that are approved.

Environment Canada has even produced “media lines” for federal scientists to stick to when discussing climate studies they have coauthored with Weaver and are based on research paid for through his university grants.

“There is no question that there is an orchestrated campaign at the federal level to make sure that their scientists can’t communicate to the public about what they do,” says Weaver, adding that the crackdown is seriously undermining morale in federal labs. “Science is about generating new knowledge and communicating it to others.”

March 27, 2015 Posted by | Canada, civil liberties, media | Leave a comment

Japan’s Monju fast breeder reactor still closed: over 10,000 cases of maintenance errors in 2013

fast-breeder-MonjuMore errors with Monju nuclear reactor maintenance found, Mainichi, 27 Mar 15 Several more maintenance problems have been discovered at the Monju fast-breeder reactor facility in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, which has been banned from operation following the discovery of over 10,000 cases of maintenance errors in 2013, it has been learned.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) secretariat revealed on March 25 that the newly discovered maintenance errors — which involve the facility’s piping system — mean that Monju operator Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) may have violated safety regulations……..http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150326p2a00m0na007000c.html

March 27, 2015 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing, safety | Leave a comment

Radioactive cesium in Fukushima’s soil

Soils retain, contain radioactivity in Fukushima Science Daily, March 24, 2015  Source: American Society of Agronomy (ASA), Crop Science Society of America (CSSA)

 Summary:
The soil’s physical and chemical properties in rice fields around the Fukushima site have been the focus of recent study. Researchers examined factors affecting soil-to-plant transfer of radioactive cesium (radiocesium) in the Fukushima area. “…….Lead researcher Atsushi Nakao’s study is the first to investigate the soil’s physical and chemical properties in rice fields around the Fukushima site. The study, published in the Journal of Environmental Quality, examined factors affecting soil-to-plant transfer of radioactive cesium (radiocesium) in the Fukushima area.

Radiocesium dissolves easily in water, allowing it to spread quickly. However, different soils have the ability to retain various toxins and prevent them from spreading or entering the food chain. The authors measured the ability of a large number of soil samples collected from Fukushima to intercept radiocesium. They found success depends on various factors.

One key factor is the presence of rough or weathered edges of certain minerals, such as mica, in the soil. These rough edges catch the radiocesium and prevent its movement. This is the frayed edge site (FES) concentration. Nakao explains, however, that “quantification of the FES with a simple experiment has proven difficult.” A “surrogate” measurement used by soil scientists is the radiocesium interception potential (RIP). This measurement is time-consuming and requires specialized facilities, preventing its measure at local institutes.

Thus, Nakao’s study looked for and found that other, more easily measured soil properties to predict the radiocesium interception potential (RIP) of a soil. “These findings may be useful in screening soils that are particularly vulnerable to transferring radiocesium to plants grown in them,” Nakao says. “However, the amounts of radiocesium transferred to plants are normally negligible, because most of the radiocesium is strongly fixed on the frayed edge site.”……..http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/03/150324101006.htm

March 27, 2015 Posted by | environment, Japan, Reference | Leave a comment