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Japan still aims to start removing fuel debris from stricken reactors in 2021

Japan still aims to start removing fuel debris from stricken reactors in 2021
Japan still aims to start removing nuclear fuel debris at the three damaged reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant in 2021, it was learned Thursday.
The schedule remained intact in a draft update to the government’s roadmap to the decommissioning of reactors 1, 2 and 3, all of which experienced fuel meltdowns during the nuclear disaster from March 2011. The draft was submitted to a meeting of a government task force on the matter.
But it looks inevitable that the government will review the schedule. The exaction location of the molten nuclear fuel in the reactors is still unknown and radiation levels in and around the reactors are very high.
In autumn last year, the government and Tepco discussed a delay of about five years in the start of work to remove the fuel debris from reactor 1.
But the draft said Japan will choose the method to remove the debris by the end of September 2018 and start taking out the molten fuel by the end of 2021. It is still unclear which reactor Japan will choose for the first removal work.
Meanwhile, the government is reviewing the schedule for removing spent fuel at storage pools at the three reactors.
Removal work has been slated to begin for reactor 3 by the end of this September. But the work will likely be delayed because radiation levels remain high and operations to remove rubble from the damaged building have not progressed as planned.
Source : Japan Times
Fukushima N-fuel debris schedule may be reviewed
Japan still aims to start removing nuclear fuel debris at the three damaged reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 power plant in 2021, it has been learned.
The schedule remained intact in a draft update to the government’s roadmap to the decommissioning of the No. 1 to No. 3 reactors. The draft was submitted to a meeting of a government task force on the matter.
But it looks inevitable that the government will review the schedule. The whereabouts of the molten nuclear fuel are still unknown and radiation levels in and around the reactors are very high.
In autumn last year, the government and TEPCO discussed a delay of about five years in the start of work to remove the fuel debris at the No. 1 reactor.
But the draft said Japan will choose the method to remove the debris by the end of September 2018 and start taking out the molten fuel by the end of 2021.
Source : Yomiuri


May 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

LDP wants to let evacuees move back to areas tainted with 50 millisieverts or less by March 2017

001LDP wants to let evacuees to move back to areas tainted with 50 millisieverts or less by March 2017

A team from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is requesting that Fukushima’s nuclear evacuees be allowed to return to parts of the prefecture where the annual radiation dose is 50 millisieverts or less by March 2017.

The proposal to prematurely lift the nuclear evacuation orders was made Thursday by the LDP’s Headquarters for Accelerating Reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake. The conservative party will submit this and other related measures to its leader, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, later this month after consulting with coalition partner Komeito.

The LDP’s proposal covers two of the three restricted areas around the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, which tainted much of the prefecture during the three core meltdowns triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

One of the areas has an estimated annual radiation dose of 20 millisieverts or less. It has been designated as an area where residents can prepare for evacuation orders to be lifted.

The other has an estimated annual radiation dose of between 20 and 50 millisieverts.

The 55,000 or so registered residents in the two areas are only allowed entry for a handful of activities, including short visits and business.

The third restricted area, which won’t see its evacuation status lifted by March 2017, is the most heavily polluted and is estimated to have an annual radiation dose beyond 50 millisieverts. The area, which has about 22,000 registered residents, remains a no-go zone.

The LDP team said the government should take steps to pave the way for a smooth transition in the two less-polluted areas by accelerating decontamination work and rebuilding infrastructure.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. is paying ¥100,000 in consolation money to each displaced resident in the two areas every month. The payments are to be terminated one year after the evacuation orders are lifted.

The LDP team proposed that Tepco continue making the payments until March 2018, regardless of when the evacuation orders are lifted for the two areas.

Last year, Japan lifted evacuation orders in parts of Tamura and the village of Kawauchi that had been included in the least-polluted of the three areas. The proposed uniform expiration rules for the consolation payments should also apply to Tamura and Kawauchi residents, said key headquarters official Shinji Inoue, former state minister of the environment.

The LDP team also said the two years through fiscal 2016 should be designated as a period of intensive assistance to help residents restore their independence in their hometowns.

The government should create a new assistance organization for that purpose, the team said, urging the government to instruct Tepco to compensate a wider range of businesses damaged by the nuclear disaster.

The team also said disaster-affected municipalities should cover a portion of the costs for some reconstruction projects. So far, the central government, which had placed responsibility for both promoting nuclear energy and overseeing the industry under the same ministry for decades, has been footing the entire bill.

Source : Japan Times

Nuclear disaster evacuees voice doubts about LDP recovery plan

Evacuees of the Fukushima nuclear disaster have voiced skepticism over a Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) plan to lift evacuation recommendations for all but the most heavily contaminated areas by March 2017, questioning whether decontamination will have advanced sufficiently by then.

The plan would lift evacuation recommendations for all areas except those with the most severe designation by March 2017. Compensation for emotional stress of 100,000 yen per month per resident would continue to be paid across the board until one year after that.

Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, could have its evacuation recommendation lifted as early as this summer. Under the current system, compensation to its residents would end next summer, but if the LDP plan is adopted, compensation would be extended for as long as a year and a half.

Miyoko Matsumoto, 84, who evacuated from Naraha to adjacent Iwaki, lives alone in temporary housing.

“I am glad that the compensation will be extended, but money is not the only reason that I cannot go back,” she says.

While she wants to return to her hometown, her home there was badly damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake and needs to be rebuilt. However, with construction workers busy rebuilding the area, she doesn’t know when her turn will come. She adds, “If the neighbors don’t come back with me, I won’t be able to live there, as my legs and back are weak.”

Another evacuee, Fumitaka Kanazawa, 58, fled with his family from the town of Namie to the city of Fukushima.

“Will the evacuation recommendation really be lifted by March 2017?” he asked doubtfully.

Under the decontamination plan for Namie, removal of radioactive materials is scheduled to be completed by March 2017, but that is three years behind the initial schedule.

“They probably timed the lifting of evacuation recommendations and the end of compensation payments to lessen the financial burden on Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO),” he says.

The LDP plan states that “for the two years through the end of next fiscal year, the national government will guide TEPCO into providing proper compensation” for businesses and industries affected by the nuclear disaster. For the period after that, however, it only states, “We will react appropriately according to individual circumstances.”

Mikiko Matsumoto, 64, used to run a craft store with her family in the village of Katsurao, which is also subject to an evacuation recommendation. The business had continued for over 100 years.

“Now I am getting by on compensation payments, but what will I do if they end?” she asks. Although she wants to reopen her store in the old location, there will likely only be a limited number of residents who return to the village.

“I can’t receive compensation forever, but it is obvious that sales will be lower than before the disaster,” she says.

Katsurao Mayor Masahide Matsumoto comments, “Not everyone will come back, so many people will see fewer sales than before if they resume business here. Support will be needed for some time even after residents return.”

Source : Mainichi

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan pushes its contaminated food products to neighbor countries

Fukushima has changed everything

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, 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

May 22, 2015 Posted by | China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan | , | Leave a comment

The Nuclear Regulation Authority raised the maximum radiation exposure limit for nuclear workers in emergencies to 250 millisieverts


The Nuclear Regulation Authority decided Wednesday to raise the maximum radiation exposure limit for nuclear workers in emergencies to 250 millisieverts from the current 100, starting from next April.
Following the 2011 disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex, the maximum limit of cumulative exposure was raised to 250 millisieverts as an emergency measure for workers at the plant, but was lowered back to the previous limit of 100 in December 2011.
In light of the Fukushima meltdowns, the regulator had been considering raising the limit in the event of another disaster as Japan gets closer to reactivating some of its reactors, which remain offline amid heightened safety concerns.
Shunichi Tanaka, the NRA’s chairman, told a news conference that the current limit could be an obstacle in containing a crisis in the future, and the revision, which will entail a legal amendment, is “a step forward” in addressing the issue.
The regulator said it believes raising the limit to 250 millisieverts is appropriate based on overseas standards and scientific studies.
Source : Japan Times

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | 1 Comment

Futaba Ex-Mayor Idogawa Katsukata sues Govt and Tepco

idogawa katsutakaEx-Futaba mayor sues state, Tepco over Fukushima nuclear disaster

Katsutaka Idogawa, the former mayor of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture, filed a lawsuit against the central government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Wednesday for exposing him to excessive radiation since the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

Seeking ¥148.5 million in damages, Idogawa, 69, claimed that sloppy management by the central government and Tepco caused him to receive radiation over the annual limit during the early phase of the disaster, when hydrogen explosions and the venting of steam from reactor containment vessels took place.

Futaba is one of the two municipalities that host Tepco’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the site of the disaster.

At a news conference, Idogawa expressed regrets for his inability to protect local residents from radiation. He also asked Futaba residents to join the lawsuit.

In his petition, Idogawa claimed to have received the excessive radiation between March 11, 2011, when the disaster started, and March 19 that year, when residents evacuated Futaba for Saitama Prefecture.

This was because as Futaba mayor he took part in work to collect information, secure places to which local residents could evacuate, and instruct and guide fleeing locals, according to the petition.

The suit, filed with the Tokyo District Court, is the first seeking compensation for health damage from events early in the nuclear crisis, according to Idogawa’s attorney.

Source : Japan Times

Ex-mayor sues state, TEPCO for stress caused by nuclear disaster

A former mayor who was exposed to high levels of radiation after the 2011 nuclear disaster is suing the central government and the operator of the wrecked Fukushima power plant for stress.

Katsutaka Idogawa, the former mayor of Futaba in Fukushima Prefecture, filed the lawsuit on May 20 at the Tokyo District Court. He is seeking 148.5 million yen ($1.22 million) in compensation.

Even after the accident, I was forced to stay in the town as mayor and thus exposed to a high dose of radiation from the plant,” the complaint said.

The central government delayed giving evacuation orders and even when they were issued, the areas under evacuation orders were inappropriate.”

Idogawa, 69, said the excessive radiation he was exposed to caused him to become stressed over health concerns.

His written complaint pointed out the central government failed to issue evacuation orders to the town appropriately following the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant.

Idogawa also lambasted the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, for their reluctance to take necessary measures to protect against future tsunami disasters.

The government and TEPCO bear responsibility for neglecting to implement advance countermeasures against potential tsunami, even though they recognized such need,” the complaint said.

Four years after the disaster, evacuation orders are still in place for Futaba town, which co-hosts the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant. Most areas are designated as “difficult-to-return” zones because annual accumulated radiation levels exceed 50 millisieverts.

During a news conference in Tokyo on May 20, Idogawa said: “We could not protect the town residents because we believed in the words the government and TEPCO said that the nuclear accident would never happen. I hope I can guide those suffering from concerns over radiation exposure.”

Source : Asahi Shimbun

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Eliminate nuclear weapons -we must start now

Now is the time to eliminate all nuclear weapons  As the review conference of the parties to the treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons ends on Friday at the UN in New York, Amnesty International and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) believe that states must agree to initiate a process to create an international prohibition on and complete elimination of nuclear weapons.

text ban_nuclear_weapons

Amnesty International and Ican oppose the use, possession, production and transfer of nuclear weapons, given their indiscriminate nature. We are opposed to the possession of nuclear weapons by any country, including permanent members of the UN security council, and share the concern of the parties to the non-proliferation treaty (NPT) regarding the “catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons”. Nuclear weapons stand alone in terms of their extreme potential to be indiscriminate. Their use would invariably violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The conferences on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons and the 2015NPT review conference have highlighted that there is a legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons. It is clear to us and to a growing number of states that a diplomatic process to prohibit the use, possession, production and transfer of nuclear weapons needs to commence urgently. This diplomatic process should proceed with all interested states, even if the nine countries that already possess nuclear weapons are not yet ready to join. We believe that the overwhelming majority of states would join this process, and that a prohibition on nuclear weapons is a humanitarian imperative.
Marek Marczynski Head of military, security and police, Amnesty International,Beatrice Fihn Executive director, Ican

May 22, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Legal, weapons and war | | Leave a comment

Catholic Church wants nuclear disarmament, not deterrence

pray-radDemand nuclear disarmament, not deterrence, National Catholic Reporter 20 May 15 “……..Today, the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals contain an estimated 14,700 nuclear weapons, with the other nuclear powers holding another 1,000 or so, according to the Federation of American Scientists.

It is within these contexts that world leaders gathered this month in New York to assess nuclear deterrence and nuclear weapons proliferation. They meet every five years by terms of the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which requires the five signatory nuclear nations — the U.S., Russia, France, England and China — to give up their nuclear arsenals in exchange for the non-nuclear signatory nations to give up their ambitions to acquire nuclear arsenals.

The U.S. says it is pursuing nuclear disarmament. At the same time, it says it is modernizing its nuclear arsenal and will spend $1 trillion to meet this end over the next 30 years. Other nuclear-possessing nations are also modernizing their arsenals. The nuclear arms race is spiraling up, not down.

The U.S. bishops have tried to stay in step with Vatican statements. This was the case at the time of the 1983 pastoral. But as U.S. disarmament has slowed and even reversed, the Vatican has been speaking out more strongly against nuclear deterrence, becoming increasingly vocal in questioning nuclear deterrence morality.

In July 2011, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, then permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, said in a formal address in Kansas City, Mo., “It cannot be lawful to continue indefinitely to possess weapons which are unlawful to use or threaten to use, or are already banned for most states, and are subject to an obligation of elimination.”…….

As the Non-Proliferation Conference opened last month, Archbishop Bernardito Auza questioned the morality of efforts to modernize nuclear deterrence systems. Quoting Pope Francis, he said: “Spending on nuclear weapons squanders the wealth of nations. To prioritize such spending is a mistake and a misallocation of resources, which would be far better invested in the areas of integral human development, education, health and the fight against extreme poverty.”

Sadly and dangerously, U.S. nuclear weapons have become a fixture in our military system. We are not moving with full determination to nuclear disarmament. The contrary is true. Thus, the thin “moral acceptance” our bishops once gave to U.S. deterrence has outlived itself……

In the absence of hierarchical consensus, it is imperative that we and other Catholics amplify the case the Vatican is clearly articulating and condemn U.S. nuclear policy. In expressing this condemnation from the heartland of the United States, we are buoyed by the hopes of countless millions around the world who are also demanding that nations possessing nuclear weapons give them up before they destroy us all.

No more nuclear weapons! No to nuclear weapons modernization!

May 22, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

No Signs of Russian Nuclear Weapons Deployment – NATO Commander

NATO Sees No Signs of Russian Nuclear Weapons Deployment I  NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Philip Breedlove said that NATO has seen no signs of Russia deploying additional nuclear weapons and thus does not plan to make adjustments to alliance’s nuclear posture.
 BRUSSELS (Sputnik) – NATO has seen no signs of Russia deploying additional nuclear weapons and thus does not plan to make adjustments to alliance’s nuclear posture, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe Philip Breedlove said Thursday. In April, Western media reports alleged that Moscow planned to use nuclear force during the reunification of Crimea with Russia if NATO moved additional forces to the Baltic region. The Kremlin dismissed the reports as speculations.

Commenting on the possibility of Russian nuclear deployments, Breedlove said that the military alliance had not seen any changes recently.

“We have to be very clear – we have not seen direct evidence of any deployment of nuclear weapons [by Russia],” Breedlove told reporters.

Relations between NATO and Moscow deteriorated after Crimea’s reunification with Russia and the escalation of the crisis in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

In April 2014, the military alliance halted all practical cooperation with Russia, accusing Moscow of fueling the conflict in Ukraine.

Russia has repeatedly denied these accusations and, in turn, voiced concern over NATO’s military buildup close to its western borders.

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Huge rise in thyroid cancer in Fukushima’s children

thyroid-cancer-papillaryflag-japanOfficials: 6,000% cancer rate increase in Fukushima children’s thyroids — Expert: Urgent countermeasures against the suspected outbreak are necessary — Professor: Gov’t stopped me from checking thyroid exposure levels after 3/11 (VIDEO)

Asahi Shimbun
, May 19, 2015 (emphasis added): Fukushima finds 16 new cases of thyroid cancer in young people… authorities said May 18, although they added it is “unlikely” a direct result of the nuclear accident…The 16 new cases were detected between January and March, and bring the total number of young people diagnosed with the disease in the testing program to 103… 127 [have been diagnosed or suspected of having thyroid cancer]… many cases of thyroid cancer in infants were reported after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. However, this has not proven to be the case so far with regard to the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

Fukushima Voice, May 19, 2015: The Thyroid Examination Evaluation Subcommittee… came to a conclusion [that this] clearly represents an excess incidence… by an order of magnitude(At the November 11, 2014 subcommittee meeting, it was described as “61 times)… this increase can be a result of either excess occurrence due to radiation exposure or over-diagnosis… “it is not possible to conclude if thyroid cancer cases detected during the screening are radiation-induced… it is unlikely these cases are the effect of radiation exposure… the exposure dose is far less than the Chernobyl accident and that there have been no cancer cases in children younger than 5… early internal exposure dose from radioactive iodine is extremely critical in assessing the effect of the accident.”

The subcommittee and Asahi article discount the link between these cancers and the Fukushima disaster due to a lack of cases among infants. Asahi claims this is unlike Chernobyl, where “many cases of thyroid cancer in infants” had developed. Is this accurate? According toShinichi Suzuki, who was in charge of the Fukushima Thyroid Examination, March 2015: “There is a striking similarity between the [age] profiles of patients diagnosed during the period of latency after Chernobylin Ukraine and currently in Fukushima.”

Also, the subcommittee noted “the early internal exposure dose from radioactive iodine is extremely critical in assessing the effect of the accident” — what does that dose data show?

Japan Focus, Dec 8, 2014: Sakiyama Hisako, former senior researcher at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences… observed that power was deployed to stop measurements of thyroid exposure being taken… Professor Tokonami Shinji of Hirosaki University… tried to measure exposure levels immediately after the explosions [but] was halted by Fukushima Prefecture, which accused him of stirring up trouble… Tokonami went on to test 65 Fukushima residents one month after the explosions [and] found radioactive iodine in the thyroids of 50 out of the 65 (77%)… He estimated the equivalent dose to the thyroid [was up to] 87 mSv [and] infants who remained in areas with high iodine levels may have been exposed to over 100 mSv.

FUKUDEN (pdf), Dec 31, 2014: Prof. Toshihide Tsuda, an epidemiology specialist [said] “When we analyzed the results of the thyroid cancer survey conducted in the Fukushima Prefecture according to location, it is obvious that there are more numbers of thyroid cancer cases in the Nakadori area (middle area), and we urgently need to take necessary measures.”

Prof. Tsuda, Eiji Yamamoto & Etsuji Suzuki of Okayama Univ.: [The thyroid cancer] incidence rate ratio was 26.98… in the nearest area, and in Fukushima city, it was 19.41… compared with the Japanese mean… [E]xcess incidence rate ratios were observed… Dose-response relationship by distance from the plant was indicated… countermeasures against the suspected outbreak are necessary in Fukushima and the neighboring areas.

Watch a presentation by Prof. Tsuda here

May 22, 2015 Posted by | children, Fukushima 2015, Japan | | 1 Comment

North Korea claims that it can make mini nuclear weapons

flag-N-KoreaNorth Korea says it has technology to make mini-nuclear weapons WP By Anna Fifield May 20  TOKYO — North Korea claimed Wednesday that it has been able to make nuclear warheads small enough to fit on a missile — a development that, if verified, would mark a major advance in the country’s military capabilities and the threat it can pose to the world.

Pyongyang has a habit of exaggerating its technical abilities, and the latest assertion comes amid widespread doubts about its purported test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile this month.

But Kim Jong Un’s regime is known to have been working simultaneously on a nuclear weapons program and missile technology, and analysts widely believe that it is just a matter of time until North Korea puts the two together through “miniaturization.”

The North’s National Defense Commission, or NDC — its top military authority, chaired by Kim — said it was able to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on an intercontinental ballistic missile, designed to be fired at the mainland United States.

“It is long since [North Korea’s] nuclear striking means have entered the stage of producing smaller nukes and diversifying them,” a spokesman for the NDC said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency………

May 22, 2015 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The deceptive hype about nuclear reprocessing

Nuclear Reprocessing Pay more, risk more, get little,
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 21 May 15  Hui Zhang
 Lately, advocates for fast neutron reactors have been arguing that breeders and reprocessing can reduce the long-term hazards associated with burial of high-level waste. But these long-term benefits are offset by short-term risks and costs.


For example, breeder advocates argue that the risks surrounding leakage in geological repositories could be reduced if all the long-lived isotopes of plutonium and other transuranics contained in spent fuel were transmuted (or fissioned), thus significantly reducing the doses of radioactivity that could escape due to any leakage. But studies show that long-lived fission and activation products in spent fuel—not isotopes that could be fissioned through breeders and reprocessing—dominate the radioactivity doses that leakage could release.

Plutonium, in fact, is quite insoluble in deep underground water. So, reprocessing delivers no obvious long-term benefits in reducing leaked doses of radioactivity—but it does involve routine releases of long-lived radioactive gases from spent fuel. Reprocessing also increases the risk that tanks for high-level liquid waste might explode.

(In a similar vein, advocates for fast neutron reactors argue that reprocessing, by reducing the need to mine uranium, can reduce human radiation exposure. But any such benefit is canceled out because plutonium reprocessing and recycling themselves expose workers and the public to radiation. In short, the net effects may well be negative.)

Meanwhile, all reprocessing and fast neutron reactor programs currently under consideration significantly increase the economic costs of nuclear energy. This means that nuclear decision makers must choose between achieving rather insignificant reductions in the long-term hazards associated with nuclear waste—and achieving short-term gains in the areas of safety, security, human health, and the environment.

The choice seems rather clear-cut. The US National Academy of Sciences concluded in 1996, based on a review of the costs and benefits of reprocessing and fast neutron reactor programs, that “none of the dose reductions seem large enough to warrant the expense and additional operational risk of transmutation.” That assessment remains valid today…….

May 22, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, reprocessing | Leave a comment

New private consortium to decommission nuclear power stations – will cut 1600 jobs

flag-UKMagnox nuclear decommissioning consortium to cut up to 1,600 jobs, Guardian, , 22 May 15  Cavendish Fluor Partnership says plans reflect ‘stepdowns’ in work at nuclear plants around UK The new private consortium that recently won the £4.2bn management contract for the decommissioning of 12 Magnox nuclear power stations has revealed plans to cut up to 1,600 jobs. Cavendish Nuclear, a division of Babcock International, plus its US partner Fluor, said the cuts reflected “planned stepdowns in the work programme” at a number of atomic sites around the UK.

The move comes amid speculation that Babcock is preparing to demand millions of pounds of extra subsidies from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) on the grounds that the workload was much heavier than anticipated.


Unions expressed shock that staff, agency and contract workers would lose their jobs between now and September 2016, although the Cavendish Fluor Partnership said it would try to find some alternative posts. Eleven of the plants have already shut down and the remaining one in operation – Wylfa on Anglesey in North Wales – is due to stop generating power at the end of the year.

Problems with the decommissioning of the separate Sellafield site in Cumbria have recently led to the private consortium there which includes Amec and Areva of France – being thrown off the management contract.

The 12 nuclear power sites managed by the Cavendish consortium for Magnox include Berkeley, Gloucestershire; Bradwell, Essex; and Hinkley Point A in Somerset.

EDF last month announced plans to cut 400 construction jobs at the site of the planned new atomic plant of Hinkley Point C.

The reduction in workers comes amid continuing delays over a final investment decision on the £24.5bn project as negotiations with potential investors continue to move more slowly than expected.

May 22, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, employment, UK, wastes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

USA officials talk with Israel about a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons

Flag-USAflag-IsraelUS pushes Israel for progress on nuclear-free zone, Y Net News
State Department officials speak with Israeli counterparts on efforts to ensure Mid-East remains nuclear nuetral.Itamar Eichner, Associated Press 05.21.15, 20:18 / Israel News

05.21.15, 20:18 / Israel NewsThe United States has sent a top official to Israel in an effort to revive talks on a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons, a central issue of a nuclear treaty review conference that some fear will end Friday without progress on global disarmament. The State Department confirmed that the assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation was in Israel to discuss the issue. An Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman declined comment on Thomas Countryman’s visit, saying it was a “very sensitive” matter.
Ynet was informed that conversation lasted until 3a.m.

Establishing a zone free of nuclear weapons in one of the world’s most tense regions is a rare point of agreement between the United States and Russia these days. Frustrated by the delay of a conference on the zone that was supposed to take place three years ago, Russia has proposed that UN-led talks be held no later than March 2016.

Secretary of State John Kerry this month called the proposed zone an “ambitious goal and fraught with challenges” but worth pursuing. The pressure comes as the president of the review conference, Taous Feroukhi of Algeria, on Wednesday pleaded with countries to close the “still wide” gaps on major issues under disarmament and non-proliferation…….
The review conference for the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty takes place just every five years, and a failure to agree on a way forward would highlight the growing frustration of countries without nuclear weapons to get the nuclear-armed ones to take concrete steps to disarm. The United States and Russia hold more than 90 percent of the estimated 16,000 nuclear weapons in the world today.

Israel is not a party to the treaty but showed up this year as a surprise observer…..
Israel did not say why the talks were discontinued, but noted that the consultations were “the first direct engagement between Israel and its neighbors on this issue in over 20 years.”

Iran, a party to the treaty and engaged in talks with world powers on its own nuclear program, this month spoke on behalf of more than 100 mostly developing countries in calling for Israel to give up its nuclear weapons, calling them a regional threat.

Israel has never publicly declared what is widely considered to be an extensive nuclear weapons program.,7340,L-4660237,00.html

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Israel, politics international | Leave a comment

Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) approves restart of a third plant – but more hurdles remain

NRA approves restart for third nuclear plant, Japan Times, 20 May 15 REUTERS, KYODO, BLOOMBERG, AFP-JIJI Japan’s nuclear regulator signed off on the basic safety of a reactor at a third nuclear plant on Wednesday, as the country inches toward rebooting its atomic industry more than four years after the crisis began at Tepco’s Fukushima No.1 facility….

But the reactor is not expected to go back online before winter, as Shikoku Electric has yet to obtain local approval and finish other necessary procedures….

The safety approval is still only one of three needed before the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) gives its final sign off. The consent of local authorities, which is seen as a formality, is also required, along with operational checks.

At a meeting on Wednesday, the NRA’s commissioners signed off on a provisional assessment that says the Ikata reactor meets new design standards introduced in the wake of Fukushima. The decision will be open to public comment for about a month before being formalized…..

Operators also have to overcome legal hurdles. Anti-nuclear activists have stepped up petitioning the judiciary to block restarts, with a majority of the public opposed to atomic power.

Residents near the Ikata plant filed a lawsuit in December 2011 to mothball the station, but a decision has yet to be made.

In a related move, the Fukui District Court has rejected Kansai Electric Power Co.’s appeal of a ruling that prevents the utility from restarting two reactors at its Takahama plant in Fukui Prefecture, according to Tadashi Matsuda, a representative for the plaintiffs who won the case.

The court dismissal was decided Monday but not announced to the media. A court official declined to comment when contacted Tuesday. Kansai Electric representatives couldn’t be reached for comment.

The Fukui District Court issued an injunction in April preventing the utility from moving ahead with plans to restart the reactors.

The court said at the time that new safety regulations introduced following the Fukushima disaster of 2011 are still too lax to ensure the safety of the two reactors at the Takahama station….The rejected appeal throws yet another roadblock in the utility’s path to resuming operations at its nuclear plants……

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste dump near the Great Lakes – just a LOCAl issue?

Deep Ground Repository for nuclear waste has local support and regional opposition,  Radio Canada International By Carmel Kilkenny | Monday 18 May, 2015 , The Deep Ground Repository (DGR) proposed for Kincardine in Southwestern Ontario, will be the topic of many conversations over this annual Victoria Day holiday weekend….

A kilometre from the shore of Lake Huron,


The Bruce power station is the largest operating nuclear power plant in the world, with 4,000 employees drawn from several small communities around it.  The majority here support the DGR, which will store over 200,000 cubic metres of low and intermediate radioactive waste from the Bruce, as well as the Pickering and Darlington nuclear power stations.

But farther away, and in the large urban centres of Toronto, and Chicago, the DGR is the subject of a divisive debate with thousands signing petitions and filing official objections to the proposal. The biggest complaint is the proximity of the DGR to the Great Lakes basin.

Rolling Stewardship

At just over a kilometre from the shore of Lake Huron, many fear the future of 40 million people, on both sides of the Canada-US border, could be at stake in the event of an accident or an unforeseen event.

Mayor Keith Hobbs of Thunder Bay, Ontario, a vocal opponent, said in a recent interview with the London Free Press, “If you contaminate that source, we’re done.  That’s life, that’s life itself.”……

May 22, 2015 Posted by | Canada, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment