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Responsibility of journalists to counter the war mongers

We Lucky Molecules, Consortium News.com  April 22, 2015 As American neocons and other war hawks push for endless war in the Mideast and now eastern Europe, the resulting chaos is straining the capacity of civilization to meet basic human needs and raising the risk of nuclear war, what would be a tragic ending to the Universe’s luckiest molecules, writes Robert Parry………….politicians, pundits and pretend patriots push the human race toward endless war, daring the chance that one side or another might take the extra step and unleash nuclear conflagration in some ultimate game of chicken.

………..Journalism’s Role

In my life’s role as a journalist, I have always believed that ignorance presents the greatest danger for humanity touching off such a cosmic catastrophe. Sometimes the ignorance can be self-imposed by people not wanting to know facts that make them uncomfortable or that contest what they have been trained to believe. Other times, the ignorance is imposed from the outside as propaganda to manipulate a population into a desired response, usually to get in line behind some warmongering leader.

Though there’s not much a journalist can do about the first type of ignorance – besides making reliable information available and hoping that people will open their eyes to it – the most daunting and crucial professional challenge is to pierce through the second kind of ignorance, the intentional twisting of reality to elicit a dangerous response from a population.

But success in countering propaganda has become increasingly difficult as its practitioners have become more sophisticated in their management and control of information and as their methods of disinformation delivery have grown more varied. Now, the false information can come from a dominant news outlet but also from an upstart Web site that has the look of independence but is actually bought and paid for by powerful interests…….

the more people understand about the realities of the world, the less vulnerable they are to the propagandists, those clever folks who disseminate ignorance in the superficial form of information and then use that ignorance to dominate the people. The true calling of a journalist is to give the people as many facts as possible and thus the tools to detect and negate the propaganda.

All this goes to the overriding principle that there is nothing more important to a democracy than an informed electorate and to the counterpoint that the most effective way to defeat democracy is to misinform the people. And, as the world hurtles toward more and more wars and ever worsening crises, there may be nothing more important than exposing the lies, exaggerations and prejudices that undergird most conflicts.

As President John F. Kennedy said in perhaps his finest speech – at American University on June 10, 1963 – “For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.”

In an age of environmental fragility and nuclear dangers, the human race must finally recognize its common interests and cooperate in the common cause of averting unnecessary chaos and conflict. We must in the end realize that we are among the luckiest molecules in the Universe – and act accordingly.

April 23, 2015 Posted by | media | Leave a comment

As workers’ radiation exposure count rises, shortage of labour predicted at Fukushima nuclear plant

text-radiationflag-japanFears grow over labour shortage at Fukushima nuclear plant, Power Engineering,  20/04/2015 By Tildy Bayar A labour shortage could be in the works for the decommissioning crew at Japan’s Fukushima No 1 nuclear power plant, analysts have warned, potentially putting the project at risk.

According to a weekend report in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, an official at Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy said it is “unclear to some extent whether it will be possible to secure enough labour until the decommissioningprocess is completed”. At issue is the number of workers being forced to leave after reaching the legal limit for radiation exposure – 100 millisieverts in five years, or a maximum exposure rate of 50 millisieverts per year – set by the national Industrial Safety and Health Act.  (The International Commission on Radiological Protection recommends that workers receive no more than 20 millisieverts per year over five years.)

Of the plant’s 14,000 registered workers, 174 have reportedly left the plant after reaching the legal limit, and 2081 have received between 50 and 100 millisieverts of exposure. Of the latter group, the Asahi Shimbun said “a majority” have been transferred to lower-exposure positions by their companies before reaching the limit, a common practice once an employee’s exposure reaches 20 millisieverts.

This leaves the coming work – including tasks which need to be carried out within the most radioactive parts of the plant – in doubt……….. Analysts say a long-term plan is needed to keep the project going for the 30-40 years that complete decommissioning is projected to take. Shigeaki Tsunoyama, who heads the Fukushima Prefectural Government’s safety advisory group, told the Asahi Shimbun that “decommissioning will stall” if too many experienced workers hit the exposure limit and leave or are transferred. “The government and Tepco have to take some steps as early as possible,” he warned.

One area being explored by Tepco is the replacement of human workers with robots in radioactive areas of the plant. So far, the utility says it has used robots equipped with cameras to explore the damage inside the reactors. “We are expecting to apply remote techniques further to the operations,” it stated, “such as the decontamination of the high-dose radiation area inside the reactor buildings and the removal of fuel debris from the reactor contaminant vessel or the reactor pressure vessel.”

Next on the agenda for Tepco is removing fuel rods from reactor 3’s spent fuel pool, which is planned to largely involve remote operations in order to limit workers’ exposure. However, some workers will be required to set up the necessary equipment.  http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2015/04/fears-grow-over-labour-shortage-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant.html

April 23, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015 | Leave a comment

¥3.57 trillion needed in next 5 years for “rebuilding” Fukushima

Fukushima reconstruction bill estimated at ¥3.57 trillion once intensive period ends JIJI APR 21, 2015 FUKUSHIMA – At least ¥3.57 trillion will be needed to rebuild Fukushima over a five-year period starting in fiscal 2016 after the “intensive period” for post-disaster reconstruction, set by the government, ends in fiscal 2015, the prefectural government said Tuesday. (registered readers only)  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/21/national/fukushima-reconstruction-bill-estimated-at-%C2%A53-57-trillion-once-intensive-period-ends/#.VTgfudKqpHw

April 23, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Drone supposedly containing radiation landed on Shinzo Abe’s roof

drone-1Drone containing radiation lands on Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe’s roof, Straight.com by Charlie Smith on April 22nd, 2015 Shortly after a Japanese court has approved restarting a shuttered nuclear power plant, an unmanned aerial vehicle landed on the roof of the prime minister’s home.

 The Guardian has reported that the small drone on Shinzo Abe’s residence had “traces of radiation”.

It has sparked discussions in Japan about the prospect of terrorists using drones to launch attacks during the 2020 Summer Games, which will be hosted in Tokyo.

The levels of radiation in this instance were not deemed harmful.

There’s no evidence at this point that the drone was placed there as a protest against Abe’s desire to restart nuclear reactors in Japan.

Public opinion is strongly against the use of nuclear power in Japan four years after a meltdown in Fukushima………

Tokyo police have reportedly revealed that there was a camera on the drone, which was decorated with a sticker carrying a symbol indicating it was radioactive.

“The police also said traces of radioactive cesium were detected on the roof near the drone, though it was unclear if they came from the drone,” the New York Timesreported. “Cesium is not usually found in nature, but large amounts of it were released into the atmosphere during the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011.” http://www.straight.com/news/435371/drone-containing-radiation-lands-japanese-prime-minister-shinzo-abes-roof

April 23, 2015 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

Russia’s thirst for Arctic mining causes effort to retrieve sunken nuc lear submarines

The most dangerous cast offs, say scientists, are the submarines, as the nuclear fuel in their reactors could ignite a submarine-rustedserious emergency.

the K-27 poses the most dangers for retrieval because its reactor might explode.

Raising sunken nuclear subs finally taking center stage , Bellona, April 22, 2015 by  anna@bellona.ru charles@bellona.no MURMANSK─ Two nuclear submarines lost or sunk by the Russian and Soviet Navies still lay at the bottom of the sea posing a possible source of contamination and laying tripwires to Moscow’s ambitious plans to develop the industrial and oil infrastructure of the Arctic.

The issue was one under discussion at a joint conference held by Bellona and Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom last week in Murmansk. Authorities say lifting the K-27, scuttled by the Soviet navy after an accident, and the K-159, which the Russian navy lost while towing it to dismantlement, will require substantial research – and financing. The question of moving the submarines has long been on the table,but has gained little momentum in past year.

Now, though, they are standing in the way of Russia’s new national preoccupation with developing the Arctic for industry, oil and gas. The push early this week took antic proportions when Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin made a surprise visit Satuday to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard with no visa and despite sanctions against him not to enter the Europe for his role in in destabilizing the conflict in Eastern Ukraine……..

To realize the jingoistic mission, Russia has prioritized a giant Arctic pollution cleanup operation that would include dealing with decades of nuclear dumping in Arctic seas.

As revealed by Bellona in 2012, such litter includes nuclear submarines and ships, former military port infrastructure, sunken containers of spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste…..

The waste includes 17,000 containers of radioactive waste; 19 ships containing radioactive waste; 14 nuclear reactors including five that still contain spent nuclear fuel; 735 other pieces of radioactively contaminated heavy machinery, two subs – the K-27, dumped in the shallows of the Kara Sea’s Novaya Zemlya Archipelago in 1981, and K-127, which sunk in 2003. Continue reading

April 23, 2015 Posted by | Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear deal a good template for all countries, to reduce nuclear weapons proliferation

diplomacy-not-bombsCould Iran be the start?Ifpress.com  Erika Simpson,  Postmedia Network Friday, April 17, 2015 Japan’s prime minister during the Fukushima catastrophe, Naoto Kan, delivered a message at the World Uranium Symposium in Quebec City in mid-April that it is time for the world to put an end to nuclear power. The symposium, held for the first time in Canada, tackled uranium issues, ranging from mining to fuel for nuclear reactors to explosive material for nuclear weapons.

This year will be a key year for debating the future of uranium, nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons. It’s the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and it’s time again for the UN conference that reviews the nuclear non-proliferation treaty every five years.

But the most high-profile nuclear issue is the interim accord between Iran and six world powers to restrict Iran’s development of nuclear power.

In the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, one fatal flaw is the quid pro quo deal in which the nuclear haves agreed to provide uranium and nuclear energy to the have-nots, which would continue to be non-nuclear, and in exchange the haves promised to get rid of their nuclear arsenals and move toward general disarmament. Fifty years ago, diplomats should have foreseen the problems with such discriminatory arrangements.

Another problem with the treaty stems from oil-rich countries, like Iran, and poor countries, like India and Pakistan, seeking to build nuclear power plants for reasons ranging from abundant energy and technological prestige to their not-so-secret desire to build nuclear weapons.

But by agreeing in the interim accord to enrich uranium to 3.7% only, Iran will forego the possibility of producing weapons-grade and weapons-usable uranium. Iran also promises to take two-thirds of its centrifuges out of service — the most-advanced centrifuges needed to make highly-enriched uranium.

In fact, India, Israel, Pakistan and many other countries will have nuclear programs that are far more extensive and dangerous than Iran’s. Moreover, all countries with nuclear power and nuclear weapons will continue to produce hundreds of thousands of tons of nuclear waste that need human stewardship for many generations into the future.

If the fundamentals of the Iranian deal could be treated as a template for all countries, the international community would be well on its way to choking off the supply of weapons-usable material everywhere.

But the Iran deal will be opposed by Israel, Saudi Arabia, Republicans in the U.S. Congress and the remaining strong supporters of Israel in the Harper cabinet. In a rare bit of bipartisan compromise, the U.S. Congress and the Senate foreign relations committee amended language that threatened to give U.S. hawks a chance to derail the talks and raise the risk of military strikes.

All the proliferators that refuse to sign the non-proliferation treaty and accept the strictest safeguards of the International Atomic Energy Agency — like Israel, India, North Korea and Pakistan — must be sanctioned, not just Iran………

Within the existing framework of international law, the proposed Iranian deal is as good as we can expect.

The entire nuclear regime, especially its cornerstone treaty, needs much stronger debate and qualified support.

The good news is there are many regional nuclear-weapon-free treaties around the world, covering large swaths of Central and Latin America, Southeast Asia, Africa and Central Asia. Each commits the states not to deploy, construct, receive or test nuclear weapons on its territory. Already 113 nations — a majority of UN members — have signed or ratified these treaties, and 50% of the world’s land area is governed by them.

There are even opportunities here in Canada to dismantle the nuclear option……..

Erika Simpson was a speaker at the World Uranium Symposium and will be a speaker at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference. She is an associate professor of international relations at Western University and the author of the book NATO and the Bomb. http://www.lfpress.com/2015/04/17/could-iran-be-the-start

April 23, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Court in south-west Japan rejects a residents’ injunction against restarting 2 nuclear power plants

judge-1flag-japanJapan moves nearer to restarting nuclear reactors after court gives go-ahead, Guardian,  in Tokyo, 22 Apr 15  Court in south-west Japan rejects a residents’ injunction against resuming operations at the Sendai power plant apan’s plans to return to nuclear power generation more than four years after the triple meltdown at Fukushima received a boost on Wednesday after a court approved the restart of two nuclear reactors.

The Kagoshima district court in south-west Japan rejected a residents’ injunction against restarting two reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant, bringing the country a step closer to operating a nuclear reactor for the first time since September 2013.

The ruling comes a week after another court sided with concerned residents in a separate case by temporarily blocking the planned restart of two reactors at the Takahama plant on the Japan Sea coast, citing safety concerns.

Hiroyuki Kawai, head lawyer for the plaintiffs, described Wednesday’s ruling as “extremely regrettable”.

He added: “We will not give in, we will continue fighting. We will not let our emotions be swayed by any short-term results and we will fight until we get rid of all nuclear reactors in Japan.”……

Wednesday’s court decision leaves Kyushu Electric Power, the operator of Sendai nuclear power plant, with just one more regulatory obstacle to overcome before it can restart the two reactors, possibly as early as June.

Regulators have said they are “very close” to completing their review of the Sendai reactors’ safety regime.

Once the licensing procedures are complete, the two reactors, which were commissioned in the 1980s, would have to pass a final operational safety inspection before being switched back on, the NRA commissioner, Toyoshi Fuketa, said.

“We need to have a period for inspection and this is the first experience for Kyushu and for us,” he said. “It will take a certain time … it’s quite difficult to say.”

In the latest lawsuit, residents had argued that Kepco and regulators had underestimated the risk posed to the Sendai plant by nearby volcanoes, and that evacuation plans in the event of a Fukushima-type disaster were insufficient.

The plaintiffs said the “ability to predict eruptions is known to be inadequate”, adding there were “no grounds for Kepco’s assertion that the probability of a [volcanic] eruption is low”………

Kansai Electric Power, which serves the huge city of Osaka, faces legal challenges against four of its 11 reactors, and has said it would decommission two reactors.

Tokyo Electric Power, the operators of the ruined Fukushima Daiichi, is hoping to persuade local authorities to approve the restart of Kashiwazaki Kariwa, the world’s biggest nuclear power plant.

Chubu Electric Power, meanwhile, was forced to close its Hamaoka plant in May 2011 owing to its proximity to offshore tectonic plates. The plant is in a region that experts say is at risk of being struck by a powerful earthquake. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/22/japan-moves-nearer-to-restarting-nuclear-reactors-after-court-gives-go-ahead

April 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

World’s nuclear industry in crisis – theme for May 2015

Take heart – all who seek clean energy –  the nuclear industry is in a right mess!

Apart from the chaotic state of nuclear economics, and of security, weapons proliferation, public opposition, desperate marketing, frantic agonising over waste disposal , as well as  the drive for public amnesia about Chernobyl and Fukushima –   apart from all that – the nuclear lobby are all wrangling among themselves.

(The Spin graphic within picture is adapted from http://spinoriginal.blogspot.)com.au/ )

There’s an unseemly public frenzy from all the different reactor corporations to market their respective products. This includes marketing the existing old reactors – to continue running them for many decades, despite their deterioration,- because  this is much more profitable than getting new ones.  And – also – postpones for future generations the massive costs of dealing with the reactors’ radioactive corpses.

Then there’s the drive to sell little reactors, and Thorium reactors –   an absolute nightmare of security concerns in these. And of course, the uranium industry won’t like this.

It’s quite likely that in trying to outdo each other, the nuclear industry will kill off itself faster than any anti nuclear campaigns. AREVA is already offering reactors for sale below their cost price.

April 23, 2015 Posted by | Christina's themes | Leave a comment

10 reasons why the global nuclear industry is in crisis – theme for May 2015

terminal-nuclear-industryThe global nuclear industry is sick, indeed, it is in palliative care.  And here are 10 good reasons why: 

1. Gloom overlies the nuclear lobby, fear of this question: the next nuclear catastrophe.  Not IF it will happen, but WHEN and WHERE?

2.  Aging, dangerous nuclear reactors that are too costly to make safe. .

3. “New nuclear” is  a joke. The nuclear lobby will boast of so many “planned”, “proposed” reactors. But new ones actually being built? – just two and a half duds.

4 Discord and dissension in the nuclear camp.  Nuclear countries cannot afford new reactors, so desperately compete to sell  them to other countries.

Meanwhile nuclear companies battle it out to market their particular new gee-whiz nuclear reactor version.

5. Climate change affects nuclear reactors.

6. Nuclear weapons now out-dated. 21st Century conflict is all about smaller, targeted missile-envy
weapons, like the USA’s assassination drones.  Pride and status are now the only motives for having nuclear weapons.

7. Decline in electricity use

8 Renewable energy, both centralised and small scale, is fast being developed, and widely popular (unlike nuclear).

9. Danger – whatever kind of nuclear facility – there is always the danger of accident or terrorism –  they are  a target for terrorists.

10 Public opinion. Worldwide – people just don’t like nuclear power.  

 

April 23, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, Christina's themes | 4 Comments

NUCLEAR TECHNOLOGY CHALLENGES

The decline of the nuclear industry poses huge challenges –  nuclear experts need not fear unemployment.

RADIOACTIVE WASTE DISPOSAL.  If all nuclear reactors stopped today, and all nuclear weapons were “turned off”, the world would still be left with a massive unsolved problem of disposing of the wastes.

BURYING THE CORPSES of nuclear reactors – (they prefer that nice word “decommissioning”) – a huge part of the unsolved waste problem.

ALTERNATIVE TECHNOLOGIES

Renewable energy is taking over –  it is supposed to be “clean and green”. And digital communications are also taking over the world.

But at present, both of these require “rare earths”

RARE EARTHS     On the one hand, these play a  part in the renewable energy future, for example in making wind turbines, and in electric car batteries.  Rare earths are a group of 17 chemical elements ( yttrium and the 15 lanthanide elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium)    Rare earth metals and alloys that contain them are used in many devices that people use every day such as: computer memory, DVD’s, rechargeable batteries, cell phones, car catalytic converters, magnets, fluorescent lighting and much more.  http://geology.com/articles/rare-earth-elements/

On the other hand, – the downside of rare earths  –  in the mining and processing of these rare earth minerals, radioactive wastes are produced.

April 23, 2015 Posted by | Christina's themes, RARE EARTHS, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment