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Fukushima to end housing aid for voluntary evacuees

FUKUSHIMA – The Fukushima Prefectural Government said Monday it will stop providing free housing at the end of March 2017 to nuclear evacuees whose homes are in official evacuation zones.

Housing assistance to the voluntary evacuees, currently set to expire in March 2016, will be terminated after a one-year extension.

The program was instituted after the 2011 catastrophe at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant forced thousands to flee.

The prefectural government is considering offering financial assistance for home moves, as well as rent subsidies for low-income households, after the end of the free housing program.

Gov. Masao Uchibori said that emergency assistance under the disaster relief law is getting harder to justify after progress in the restoration of infrastructure, contamination work and the construction of public housing.

The prefectural government estimates there are about 25,000 voluntary evacuees, 20,000 of whom are residing outside Fukushima.

The free housing program for voluntary evacuees was originally a two-year measure, but it has been extended annually for a further 12 months.

Housing assistance for those who have evacuated from designated zones will also remain in place through fiscal 2016. The prefecture will consider on an individual basis whether to continue help when evacuation orders are lifted.

For people who lost their houses in the tsunami, Fukushima will discuss an extension for each household after fiscal 2016, depending on the progress of public housing construction.

Source: Japan Times

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japan, S.Korea to discuss food import ban

don't trust japanese foodGovernment officials from Japan and South Korea are to meet in Geneva later this month to discuss Seoul’s ban on fishery imports from northeastern Japan.

South Korea has prohibited all imports of fishery products from 8 Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima, since September 2013. The ban came after a massive amount of contaminated wastewater leaked at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The 2 sides agreed on Monday that the talks based on a World Trade Organization agreement will be held on June 24th.

Both sides appear ready to continue discussions the following day should it become necessary.

But whether the import ban will be lifted swiftly remains to be seen.

South Korea maintains it should be lifted in stages. Japan argues that the ban has no scientific basis and should be removed across the board.
Source : NHK

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Japan, South Korea | | Leave a comment

7,000 Tochigi residents seek compensation over Fukushima nuclear disaster

Some 7,000 people living in Tochigi Prefecture sought compensation Monday worth ¥1.85 billion through an out-of-court settlement with Tepco over the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant.
In the first collective appeal by residents who have not been compensated by Tokyo Electric Power Co., 7,128 people from Tochigi, located some 100 km from the Destroyed plant, argue that they should be eligible for compensation even though they were not living in ‪#‎Fukushima‬ at the time of the 2011 nuclear disaster.
The residents, who were living at the time in Otawara, Nasushiobara, and Nasu are also demanding an apology and the establishment of a fund to pay for decontamination work and health checks, their lawyers said. The combined population of the two cities and town stands at around 218,000.
The appeal was filed Monday with the Nuclear Compensation Dispute Resolution Center under an alternative dispute resolution system that enables quicker settlements with the participation of a third party that has expertise.
Lead lawyer Koji Otani said it is “irrational” to treat his clients differently from the Fukushima residents who decided to evacuate on a voluntary basis and received compensation, as the same amount of radiation was detected in Tochigi.
“We want Tepco to take seriously the fact that over 7,000 people raised their voices,” Otani told a news conference at the Tochigi Prefectural Government office.
The residents are demanding sums ranging from ¥120,000 to ¥720,000 per person — equivalent to the amount awarded for voluntary evacuees in Fukushima — as compensation for mental suffering and extra living expenses caused by the nuclear disaster, according to the lawyers.
More than 30% of those seeking compensation were under 18 at the time of the Fukushima meltdowns, or were born afterward, they said.
“I let my (elementary school) child play in the garden without knowing radiation levels immediately after the accident,” said Mako Tezuka, 45, one of the residents who filed the appeal.
“Four years later, I still haven’t received any explanation or apology from Tepco and I’m only left with worries about the future and health of my child,” she said.

Source: Japan Times

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Safety first in decommissioning work / Speed no longer top priority at N-plant


With the government’s approval of a revised road map for the decommissioning of nuclear reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. are shifting to a policy focused on “reducing risks” rather than “speedy operations.”

On Friday, the government decided on a revised road map for decommissioning the nuclear reactors that reflects the current circumstances surrounding the nuclear plant four years after the outbreak of the crisis, following the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 that forced the government to take urgent measures.

The schedule includes some practical content such as delays to the start of removing spent nuclear fuel rods that are stored in fuel pools at the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors.

Risk assessment

“We’ll continue facing this unprecedented challenge and proceed with decommissioning work by giving utmost consideration to safety,” TEPCO President Naomi Hirose said Friday during a meeting of concerned Cabinet ministers at which the revised schedule was endorsed.

Eschewing an emphasis on speed, the government has shifted to a policy that stresses the reduction of risks that could negatively impact people and the environment.

The shift stems from a review of the government’s previous commitment to follow a schedule that put excessive pressure on workers at the site, leading to increased cases of problems and accidents that eventually resulted in delayed operations.

There were initially about 3,000 plant workers after the outbreak of the crisis. Now, there are around 7,000 involved in such projects as the construction of additional tanks to store radioactive contaminated water and installing subterranean ice walls around reactor buildings to block groundwater from flowing in.

Work-related accidents are on the rise. In January, operations were suspended for two weeks following fatal accidents at both the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear power plants.

Based on the policy shift, the road map has sorted operations into several categories ordered by priority depending on their risk assessments. For example, contaminated water disposal is deemed a high priority because of leakage risks, meaning measures should be taken immediately.

In terms of the most difficult task — removing melted fuel debris — the road map stipulates that a cautious stance be taken out of concern that “the risk of failure would actually increase if [operations] are hastily conducted.”

“It’s important to classify the risks since decommissioning work involves a range of procedures,” said Hiroaki Yoshii, a professor emeritus at Tokyo Keizai University.

Identifying effective methods

Preparation work such as debris removal is expected to be a lengthy process, prompting the road map to indicate that spent fuel extraction from the pools at the three reactors will be delayed by from four to 40 months.

But the extent to which the delays would affect the overall timetable of completing decommissioning work, projected to take 30 to 40 years, remains unclear. The outline of the overall timeline remained unchanged.

The extraction of melted fuel from the containment vessels is expected to start in 2021. The operation faces an unprecedented challenge involving the use of a robot arm, however, meaning deciding on the best extraction method for each reactor will take about two years.

One option is a “submersion method” in which the vessel is submerged in water to extract fuel debris. Other ways include a dry approach that doesn’t involve water.

The submersion method has the advantage of using water as a radiation shield, but potential leak points need to be repaired. Containment vessels would also need to be tested for their ability to withstand earthquakes when filled with water.

A dry method would not require the leaks to be stopped, but measures would be needed to control emissions from radioactive substances and shield workers from radiation.

The government and TEPCO plan to deploy robots to investigate the position and state of melted fuel in the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors after summer.

“If we can learn about the conditions of the fuel, we can develop an efficient retrieval method. Operations in the next few years will be important,” said Hajimu Yamana, vice president of the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation.

Tainted water still flowing in

Radioactive contaminated water generated from groundwater flowing into the plant continues to stand at 300 tons a day. The flow needs to be blocked before melted fuel can be extracted.

The road map also outlines a new goal of reducing groundwater flow to less than 100 tons a day by fiscal 2016 as part of efforts to complete contaminated water disposal.

To achieve the target, contaminated groundwater pumped up from areas enclosed by ice walls and wells called “subdrain pits” must be purified and directed to the ocean — but the effectiveness of the unprecedented scale of the ice walls remain unknown.

The government and TEPCO have also failed to obtain consent over the subdrain pit plan from local governments and residents after rainwater contaminated with radioactive material was found to have escaped into the ocean through a trench at the power plant in February.

Source: Yomiuri

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

What’s Really Going on at Fukushima?

Fukushima’s still radiating, self-perpetuating, immeasurable, and limitless, like a horrible incorrigible Doctor Who monster encounter in deep space.

Fukushima will likely go down in history as the biggest cover-up of the 21st Century. Governments and corporations are not leveling with citizens about the risks and dangers; similarly, truth itself, as an ethical standard, is at risk of going to shambles as the glue that holds together the trust and belief in society’s institutions. Ultimately, this is an example of how societies fail.

Tens of thousands of Fukushima residents remain in temporary housing more than four years after the horrific disaster of March 2011. Some areas on the outskirts of Fukushima have officially reopened to former residents, but many of those former residents are reluctant to return home because of widespread distrust of government claims that it is okay and safe.

Part of this reluctance has to do with radiation’s symptoms. It is insidious because it cannot be detected by human senses. People are not biologically equipped to feel its power, or see, or hear, touch or smell it (Caldicott). Not only that, it slowly accumulates over time in a dastardly fashion that serves to hide its effects until it is too late.

Chernobyl’s Destruction Mirrors Fukushima’s Future

As an example of how media fails to deal with disaster blowback, here are some Chernobyl facts that have not received enough widespread news coverage: Over one million (1,000,000) people have already died from Chernobyl’s fallout.

Additionally, the Rechitsa Orphanage in Belarus has been caring for a very large population of deathly sick and deformed children. Children are 10 to 20 times more sensitive to radiation than adults.

Zhuravichi Children’s Home is another institution, among many, for the Chernobyl-stricken: “The home is hidden deep in the countryside and, even today, the majority of people in Belarus are not aware of the existence of such institutions.”1

One million (1,000,000) is a lot of dead people. But, how many more will die? Approximately seven million (7,000,000) people in the Chernobyl vicinity were hit with one of the most potent exposures to radiation in the history of the Atomic Age.

The exclusion zone around Chernobyl is known as “Death Valley.” It has been increased from 30 to 70 square kilometres. No humans will ever be able to live in the zone again. It is a permanent “dead zone.”

Additionally, over 25,000 died and 70,000 disabled because of exposure to extremely dangerous levels of radiation in order to help contain Chernobyl. Twenty percent of those deaths were suicides, as the slow agonizing “death march of radiation exposure” was too much to endure.

Fukushima- The Real Story

In late 2014, Helen Caldicott, M.D. gave a speech about Fukushima at Seattle Town Hall on September 28, 2014. Pirate Television recorded her speech. (

Dr. Helen Caldicott is co-founder of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and she is author/editor of Crisis Without End: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe, The New Press, September 2014. For over four decades Dr. Caldicott has been the embodiment of the anti-nuclear banner, and as such, many people around the world classify her as a “national treasure”. She’s truthful and honest and knowledgeable.

Fukushima is literally a time bomb in quiescence. Another powerful quake and all hell could break loose. Also, it is not even close to being under control. Rather, it is totally out of control. According to Dr. Caldicott, “It’s still possible that Tokyo may have to be evacuated, depending upon how things go.” Imagine that!

According to Japan Times as of March 11, 2015:

There have been quite a few accidents and problems at the Fukushima plant in the past year, and we need to face the reality that they are causing anxiety and anger among people in Fukushima, as explained by Shunichi Tanaka at the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Furthermore, Mr. Tanaka said, there are numerous risks that could cause various accidents and problems.

Even more ominously, Seiichi Mizuno, a former member of Japan’s House of Councillors (Upper House of Parliament, 1995-2001) in March 2015 said:

The biggest problem is the melt-through of reactor cores… We have groundwater contamination… The idea that the contaminated water is somehow blocked in the harbor is especially absurd. It is leaking directly into the ocean. There’s evidence of more than 40 known hotspot areas where extremely contaminated water is flowing directly into the ocean… We face huge problems with no prospect of solution.2

At Fukushima, each reactor required one million gallons of water per minute for cooling, but when the tsunami hit, the backup diesel generators were drowned. Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns within days. There were four hydrogen explosions. Thereafter, the melting cores burrowed into the container vessels, maybe into the earth.

According to Dr. Caldicott, “One hundred tons of terribly hot radioactive lava has already gone into the earth or somewhere within the container vessels, which are all cracked and broken.” Nobody really knows for sure where the hot radioactive lava resides. The scary unanswered question: Is it the China Syndrome?

Following the meltdown, the Japanese government did not inform people of the ambient levels of radiation that blew back onto the island. Unfortunately and mistakenly, people fled away from the reactors to the highest radiation levels on the island at the time.

As the disaster happened, enormous levels of radiation hit Tokyo. The highest radiation detected in the Tokyo Metro area was in Saitama with cesium radiation levels detected at 919,000 becquerel (Bq) per square meter, a level almost twice as high as Chernobyl’s “permanent dead zone evacuation limit of 500,000 Bq.”3. For that reason, Dr. Caldicott strongly advises against travel to Japan and recommends avoiding Japanese food.

Even so, post the Fukushima disaster, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed an agreement with Japan that the U.S. would continue importing Japanese foodstuff. Therefore, Dr. Caldicott suggests people not vote for Hillary Clinton. One reckless dangerous precedent is enough for her.

According to Arnie Gundersen, an energy advisor with 39 years of nuclear power engineering experience, as reported in The Canadian on August 15, 2011:

The US government has come up with a decision at the highest levels of the State Department, as well as other departments who made a decision to downplay Fukushima. In April, the month after the powerful tsunami and earthquake crippled Japan including its nuclear power plant, Hillary Clinton signed a pact with Japan that she agreed there is no problem with Japanese food supply and we will continue to buy them. So, we are not sampling food coming in from Japan.

However, in stark contrast to the United States, in Europe Angela Merkel, PhD physics, University of Leipzig and current chancellor of Germany is shutting down all nuclear reactors because of Fukushima.

Maybe an advanced degree in physics makes the difference in how a leader approaches the nuclear power issue. It certainly looks that way when comparing/contrasting the two pantsuit-wearing leaders, Chancellor Merkel and former secretary of state Clinton.

After the Fukushima blow up, ambient levels of radiation in Washington State went up 40,000 times above normal, but according to Dr. Caldicott, the U.S. media does not cover the “ongoing Fukushima mess.” So, who would really know?

Dr. Caldicott ended her September 28. 2014 speech by saying:

In Fukushima, it is not over. Everyday, four hundred tons of highly radioactive water pours into the Pacific and heads towards the U.S.  Because the radiation accumulates in fish, we get that too. The U.S. government is not testing the water, not testing the fish, and not testing the ambient air. Also, people in Japan are eating radiation every day.

Furthermore, according to Dr. Caldicott:

Rainwater washes over the nuclear cores into the Pacific. There is no way they can get to those cores, men die, robots get fried. Fukushima will never be solved. Meanwhile, people are still living in highly radioactive areas.

Fukushima will never be solved because “men die” and “robots get fried.” By the sounds of it, Fukushima is a perpetual radiation meltdown scenario that literally sets on the edge of a bottomless doomsday pit, in waiting to be nudged over.

UN All-Clear Report

A UN (UNSCEAR) report on April 2, 2014 on health impacts of the Fukushima accident concluded that any radiation-induced effects would be too small to identify. People were well protected and received “low or very low” radiation doses. UNSCEAR gave an all-clear report.

Rebuttal of the UNSCEAR report by the German affiliate of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War dated July 18, 2014 takes a defiant stance in opposition to the UN report, to wit:

The Fukushima nuclear disaster is far from over. Despite the declaration of ‘cold shutdown’ by the Japanese government in December 2011, the crippled reactors have not yet achieved a stable status and even UNSCEAR admits that emissions of radioisotopes are continuing unabated. 188 TEPCO is struggling with an enormous amount of contaminated water, which continues to leak into the surrounding soil and sea. Large quantities of contaminated cooling water are accumulating at the site. Failures in the makeshift cooling systems are occurring repeatedly. The discharge of radioactive waste will most likely continue for a long time.

Both the damaged nuclear reactors and the spent fuel ponds contain vast amounts of radioactivity and are highly vulnerable to further earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and human error. Catastrophic releases of radioactivity could occur at any time and eliminating this risk will take many decades… It is impossible at this point in time to come up with an exact prognosis of the effects that the Fukushima nuclear disaster will have on the population in Japan… the UNSCEAR report represents a systematic underestimation and conjures up an illusion of scientific certainty that obscures the true impact of the nuclear catastrophe on health and the environment.

Read the full text of the rejoinder to the UN report here. (

Fukushima’s Radiation and the Future

Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (AP), June 12, 2015:

Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns… Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste… serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years.

According to Prof. Hiroaki Koide (retired), Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, April 25, 2015:

Although the Chernobyl accident was a terrible accident, it only involved one reactor. With Fukushima, we have the minimum [of] 3 reactors that are emitting dangerous radiation. The work involved to deal with this accident will take tens of years, hundreds of years. It could be that some of the fuel could actually have gone through the floor of the containment vessel as well… What I’ve just described is very, very logical for anyone who understands nuclear engineering or nuclear energy. (Which dreadfully spells-out: THE CHINA SYNDROME.)

According to the Smithsonian, April 30, 2015:

Birds Are in a Tailspin Four Years After Fukushima: Bird species are in sharp decline, and it is getting worse over time… Where it’s much, much hotter, it’s dead silent. You’ll see one or two birds if you’re lucky.

Developmental abnormalities of birds include cataracts, tumors, and asymmetries. Birds are spotted with strange white patches on their feathers.

Maya Moore, a former NHK news anchor, authored a book about the disaster: The Rose Garden of Fukushima (Tankobon, 2014), about the roses of Mr. Katsuhide Okada. Today, the garden has perished:

It’s just poisoned wasteland. The last time Mr. Okada actually went back there, he found baby crows that could not fly, that were blind. Mutations have begun with animals, with birds.

The Rose Garden of Fukushima features a collection of photos of an actual garden that existed in Fukushima, Japan. Boasting over 7500 bushes of roses and 50-thousand visitors a year, the Garden was rendered null and void in an instant due to the triple disaster — earthquake, tsunami, and meltdown.

The forward to Maya’s book was written by John Roos, former US Ambassador to Japan 2009-13:

The incredible tale of Katz Okada and his Fukushima rose garden was told here by Maya Moore… gives you a small window into what the people of Tohoku faced.

Roos’ “small window” could very well serve as a metaphor for a huge black hole smack dab in the heart of civilization. Similarly, Fukushima is a veritable destruction machine that consumes everything in its path, and beyond, and its path is likely to grow. For certain, it is not going away.

Thus, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) is deeply involved in an asymmetric battle against enormously powerful unleashed out-of-control forces of E=mc2.

Clearly, TEPCO has its back to the wall. Furthermore, it’s doubtful TEPCO will “break the back of the beast.” In fact, it may be an impossible task.

Maybe, just maybe, Greater Tokyo’s 38 million residents will eventually be evacuated. Who knows for sure?

Only Godzilla knows!

Source: Dissident Voice

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Reconstruction in Japan’s tsunami-hit region remains slow

jgjlCrane is seen working at the debris of buildings devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami at Ofunato city, Iwate Pretecture, Japan, March 2, 2012.

TOKYO, June 14 (Xinhua) — Reconstruction of the regions in northeastern Japan, which were struck four years ago by a devastating earthquake and ensuing tsunami, remains slow.

Reconstruction work in the hardest-hit regions of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures has been inexplicably slow. In Iwate prefecture, 1,049 publicly funded homes for refugees had been built as of January, only 18 percent of some 6,000 units planned to be constructed by late 2018.

The situation in the rest two prefectures were also pessimistic. Only 17.4 percent of a total of 15,484 units planned to be built by March 2018 had been completed in Miyagi by January and 5 percent of merely 5,000 had been built in Fukushima as of January due to delayed decontamination work in the prefecture.

In March 2011, a magnitude-9.0 struck off northeastern Japan, triggering a massive tsunami with waves as high as 20 meters washing away entire towns and villages, with the Tohoku region being one of the worst hit.

hgklmlmBlack bags containing buildup of contaminated wastes are seen in the town of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 7, 2015. The scenes from the towns and villages still abandoned four years after an earthquake triggered tsunami breached the defenses of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, would make for the perfect backdrop for a post-apocalyptic Hollywood zombie movie, but the trouble would be that the levels of radiation in the area would be too dangerous for the cast and crew. (Xinhua/Liu Tian)

The massive tsunami knocked out key cooling functions at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear facility, causing three reactors to melt down within what has recently been revealed as shoddily constructed reactor buildings. The plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power has, indefensibly, failed to bring the ongoing nuclear crisis under control.

With the amount of radioactive materials released into the environment being twice as much as the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, the calamity at the Daiichi plant has become the worst civilian nuclear disaster in history.

A total of some 470,000 people had to be evacuated after the earthquake and tsunami struck, with around 120,000 still living in temporary housing and makeshift shelters due to the nuclear crisis, many of which look like internment, or asylum seekers’ camps, with families of up to four or five people forced to share a single room in a wood hut and having no idea when they can return home or be rehoused into permanent residences.

The refugees in the camps struggle to live meaningful and healthy lives, with instances of obesity and other health problems plaguing the younger evacuees, who have nowhere to play, including mental issues such as chronic depression and post traumatic stress.

According to official figures, 3,244 of those living in temporary shelters have died from diseases, old age, suicide, and other causes, since being evacuated four years ago.

hbklAbandoned fields and houses are seen in the town of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 7, 2015. (Xinhua/Liu Tian)

Fishery, a main industry in the three prefectures, has not fully recovered yet and seafood production remained sluggish.

About 53 percent of facilities in Iwate Prefecture were operating at 80 percent or above of their pre-disaster levels, while in Miyagi and Fukushima, the number is even lower, at 50 percent and 25 percent, respectively, according to a survey by Japan’s Fisheries Agency between November and January.

The Japan Times noted that the percentage of facilities at or above the 80-percent production threshold hasn’t changed much since last year’s survey, which recorded 57 percent in Iwate, 49 percent in Miyagi and 24 percent in Fukushima.

So far, decontamination work in and around the leaking nuclear plant has been blamed to be “rudimentary”, “unscientific”, and “painfully slow”, as contaminated waste in black refuse bags are seen piled up alongside deserted streets and rice fields, both in and outside the “no go” zone. Industrial equipment for the decontamination work lied idle and a handful of part-timers and day laborers were sprinkling new soil by hand and with hose.

It would take 35 years to finally disable the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to Japnese experts and media.

Source: Xinhua

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

The irrationality of nuclear deterrence – General George Lee Butler


That we would pursue these weapons with such unfettered enthusiasm—competing amongst the [military] services for resources, going to roll out these shiny new things, cutting ribbons—spoke to me a great deal about the human condition. For some people, technology has absolutely mesmerizing qualities. If we can do it, we must.

That’s the kind of thinking that got us where we are today. To add to that, the military-industrial complex was being fed a virtually endless trough of money. There is no end to the number of people who will find any way to justify building something new, brighter and better. I’ve seen that happen time and time and time again

Ex-Chief of Nuclear Forces General Lee Butler Still Dismayed by Deterrence Theory and Missiles on Hair-Trigger Alert, TruthOut , 14 June 2015 00:00By Robert KazelNuclear Age Peace Foundation | Interview After the Cold War ended in the early 1990s, the danger of nuclear weapons faded as a source of anxiety for some Americans. To them, worrying that the world’s stockpiles of missiles and bombs could eventually create catastrophe seemed as anachronistic as the duck-and-cover classroom drills of a previous generation. But for George Lee Butler, a four-star US Air Force general and the commander of US nuclear forces between 1991 and 1994, thinking about the possibility of just such a calamity didn’t end. The reality was always a phone call away.

The calls would come at least once a month, and there was never advance warning. Butler might be anywhere: his office at Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha, Neb., or traveling, or home sleeping. A hotline to other military officers and the White House sat on a bedside table, closer to his wife’s head because she was the lighter sleeper.

It always turned out to be an exercise—World War III obviously never broke out during Butler’s tenure. But, at least at the outset, he never knew for sure. The games were thought to be more useful if the participants—even a key player such as Butler—were kept in the dark about that…..

Actual presidents—in Butler’s day, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton—never took part in these “missile threat conferences.” Like a stand-in for a movie star who wished to avoid an unpleasant stunt, someone else always acted out the role of commander-in-chief at the other end of the line. Butler felt disgust that such a crucial task was left to a substitute.

Few knew it, but for Butler that sense of abhorrence gradually began to encompass nuclear weapons in general, as he became privy to more secrets about them………….

Former colleagues were surprised when Butler continued to make earnest, eloquent remarks to large audiences, condemning the same military systems he’d once managed. Now Butler was speaking freely about the “scourge” of nuclear weapons as being sinister and irreligious, and recommending they be dismantled everywhere they existed in the world through international agreements. These weapons were relics of a previous age when it was regrettably customary for rival nations to demonize one another, he argued. But they had no strategic value for any government in the post-Cold War world. Continue reading

June 15, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA Congress bars US assistance going to Ukraine’s Nazi military unit

   The Azov men use the neo-Nazi Wolfsangel (Wolf’s Hook) symbol on their banner and members of the battalion are openly white supremacists, or anti-Semites.”
Based on interviews with militia members, the Telegraph reported that some of the fighters doubted the reality of the Holocaust, expressed admiration for Adolf Hitler and acknowledged that they are indeed Nazis.
Now, however, a unanimous U.S. House of Representatives — of all things — has acknowledged the unpleasant truth.
swastikaflag-UkraineU.S. House Admits Nazi Role in Ukraine OpEdNews 6/12/2015 By  (about the author) Last February, when ethnic Russian rebels were closing in on the Ukrainian port of Mariupol, the New York Times rhapsodically described the heroes defending the city and indeed Western civilization — the courageous Azov battalion facing down barbarians at the gate. What the Times didn’t tell its readers was that these “heroes” were Nazis, some of them even wearing Swastikas and SS symbols.

The long Times article by Rick Lyman fit with the sorry performance of America’s “paper of record” as it has descended into outright propaganda — hiding the dark side of the post-coup regime in Kiev. But what makes Lyman’s sadly typical story noteworthy today is that the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives has just voted unanimously to bar U.S. assistance going to the Azov battalion because of its Nazi ties.

When even the hawkish House of Representatives can’t stomach these Nazi storm troopers who have served as Kiev’s tip of the spear against the ethnic Russian population of eastern Ukraine, what does that say about the honesty and integrity of the New York Times when it finds these same Nazis so admirable?

Continue reading

June 15, 2015 Posted by | politics international, Reference, Ukraine, USA | Leave a comment

UK Treasury not happy with the Hinkley Nuclear power deal – especially after warnings on EPR safety

scrutiny-on-costsflag-UKFrench reactor problems cast doubt on UK nuclear power plant, Jim Pickard, Chief Political Correspondent, 14 June 15  Problems with a reactor in northern France have triggered deep concern in the British government about the future of the UK’s first new nuclear power station for 20 years at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

EDF Energy, the French state-owned company behind Hinkley, has suffered a five-year delay and escalating costs at its flagship Flamanville project in Normandy.

The £7bn French scheme — designed to showcase new atomic technology — is based on an “EPR” European pressurised reactor, the same model that will be used in Hinkley. Further concerns mounted last week when a leaked report from France’s nuclear safety watchdog highlighted faults in Flamanville’s cooling system. That followed a warning in April by the French Nuclear Safety Regulator that there was an excessive amount of carbon in the steel of the reactor vessel.

EDF’s struggles in France have prompted worries at a senior level of the Treasury about the £24bn Hinkley scheme.“I think there are serious questions about the technology,” said one Treasury figure.

………Talks between the government, EDF and its two Chinese partners over a final financing package were supposed to be completed by March but have dragged on. Now officials and executives are working towards a fresh deadline of October, when China’s President Xi Jinping has a state visit to Britain……..

The Treasury has struck an agreement promising to pay a guaranteed price for energy generated by Hinkley for 35 years.It has also promised to guarantee £16bn of debt towards the project — but it has inserted conditions to ensure that taxpayers are not left on the hook if the technology fails.

Instead the agreement stipulates that it will be shareholders and not the government that retains the “principal exposure to the viability of the EPR technology” — until EDF can prove the success of its other projects such as Flamanville………

there are growing suspicions in Westminster and within the industry that the Treasury has been dragging its heels over supporting the project. One source close to EDF said he believed there had been “briefings from people at the Treasury” against the deal.

Some civil servants believe the government struck an overgenerous “strike price” to buy energy from Hinkley’s two reactors for 35 years. “I think Treasury officials would not be disappointed if Hinkley never happened,” said one Whitehall source. “They have been foot-dragging for at least a year.”

One Tory figure said: “I think the Treasury don’t really want that deal to work.”……….

June 15, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Pope Francis will be dropping a bombshell on the climate change discussion

It is also intended to improve the prospect of a strong new UN global agreement to cut climate emissions. By adding a moral dimension to the well-rehearsed scientific arguments, Francis hopes to raise the ambition of countries above their own self-interest to secure a strong deal in a crucial climate summit in Paris in November.

The pope chose Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, as his namesake at the start of his papacy in 2011, saying the saint’s values reflected his own. 

Explosive intervention by Pope Francis set to transform climate change debate, Guardian, , 13 June 15  The most anticipated papal letter for decades will be published in five languages on Thursday. It will call for an end to the ‘tyrannical’ exploitation of nature by mankind. Could it lead to a step-change in the battle against global warming?

Pope Francis will call for an ethical and economic revolution to prevent catastrophic climate change and growing inequality in a letter to the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics on Thursday.

In an unprecedented encyclical on the subject of the environment, the pontiff is expected to argue that humanity’s exploitation of the planet’s resources has crossed the Earth’s natural boundaries, and that the world faces ruin without a revolution in hearts and minds. The much-anticipated message, which will be sent to the world’s 5,000 Catholic bishops, will be published online in five languages on Thursday and is expected to be the most radical statement yet from the outspoken pontiff.

Pope & St Francis

However, it is certain to anger sections of Republican opinion in America by endorsing the warnings of climate scientists and admonishing rich elites, say cardinals and scientists who have advised the Vatican.

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June 15, 2015 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

The challenges posed in the cleanup of Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plan

What’s ahead for Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant Mari Yamaguchi Associated Press TOKYO | Four years after an earthquake and tsunami destroyed Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant, the road ahead remains riddled with unknowns.

The government approved a revised 30- to 40-year roadmap Friday that delays by three years the start of a key initial step — the removal of still-radioactive fuel rods in the three reactors that had meltdowns following the March 2011 disaster in northeast Japan.

Experts have yet to pinpoint the exact location of the melted fuel inside the three reactors and study it, and still need to develop robots capable of working safely in such highly radioactive conditions. And then there’s the question of what to do with the waste.

Some of the uncertainties and questions: Continue reading

June 15, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015, Reference | Leave a comment

USA and Russia: top former generals plea to “de-alert” nuclear weapons

nuclear-missile-readyEx-U.S., Russian brass: ‘De-alert’ nukes or risk disaster  Politico. com By BRYAN BENDER 4/29/ 15
Amid all the talk about a new Cold War, here’s one hard, cold fact: Nearly 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington and Moscow still have nearly 2,000 atomic bombs ready to fly at a moment’s notice to destroy each other.
And that so-called hair-trigger alert is now sparking new concerns that deepening distrust between the former foes significantly raises the risk of a miscalculation and nuclear disaster.
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On Thursday the American general who recently commanded U.S. nuclear forces will lead a group of ex-Russian officers and other national security leaders in an appeal for the United States and Russia to take immediate steps to “de-alert” their respective arsenals.
Their proposal starkly warns that the current dismal state of relations — combined with other new factors such as the threat of cyberattacks — demands leaders on both sides be given more time to respond to potential provocations before ordering the unthinkable.
“Tension between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis has brought the parties one step closer to the precipice of nuclear brinksmanship, the point at which nuclear risk skyrockets,” according to the findings of the commission convened by the disarmament group Global Zero, which will be delivered at the United Nations. “This tension is uncharacteristic of their post-Cold War partnership, but it has flared to the point that it is producing dangerous misunderstandings and action-reaction cycles with strong escalatory updrafts.”

The group, led by retired four-star General James Cartwright, who oversaw the U.S. nuclear arsenal before leaving the military in 2011, says the United States and Russia are at serious risk of an accidental nuclear confrontation, spurred by flawed intelligence or a misreading of the other side’s intentions. The primary reason: Fully half of their large arsenals remain designed to respond within minutes, what is known as launch-on-warning. As the report points out, “the go-code comes as a message that is the length of a tweet.” And “Minuteman missiles are so named for a reason.”

By requiring more steps be taken to prepare the weapons for launch, Russia and the United States would have hours — if not several days — to develop better information before reacting, while still maintaining a strong deterrent force, Cartwright told POLITICO.

“These weapons that are on alert are particularly vulnerable to being hijacked or [the systems] indicate something that is not true in a situation where you only have a few minutes to make a decision,” said Cartwright, who was head of the U.S. Strategic Command before becoming vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“In a tense military-political situation, like the one that exists currently as a result of the crisis in Ukraine, the probability of making erroneous decisions increases,” added retired Russian Major General Vladimir Dvorkin, former director of Research Institute No. 4 in the Russian Ministry of Defense. “That is why at the present time it would be necessary for the presidents of Russia and the U.S. to formally renounce the launch-on-warning form.”



June 15, 2015 Posted by | Russia, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The real success behind the Solyndra solar power story

piggy-ban-renewablesThe Real Solyndra Scandal  It’s that no one’s noticed the enormous success of the government program behind it. Slate,  By Daniel Gross , 15 June 15 On Thursday, Peter Davidson, the official who took over the controversial, much-mocked Energy Department Loan Programs Office in 2013,announced he’s stepping down. Created during the Bush administration, the program received a huge influx of funds as a result of the 2009 stimulus bill, which it lent to a range of companies in the energy and transportation industries.

Early on, the program was known for its failures, especially Solyndra, which was like Benghazi before Benghazi was Benghazi—a three-syllable slogan that signified to conservatives the Obama administration’s fecklessness. A startup solar panel manufacturer, Solyndra received a $535 million loan guarantee and in 2011 went bankrupt. The program had other high-profile face-plants, including Fisker Automotive, a startup electric car-maker that went bust, causing the government towrite off $139 million of the $192 million loan it made.

 But lending to high-risk startups was only a small portion of the program’s portfolio—some $30 billion doled out to 30 companies and projects. The loans fell into three broad categories: startup manufacturers like Solyndra and Fisker; established automakers like Ford, which took a $5.9 billion loan in September 2009 to modernize its plants, and Nissan, which got $1.4 billion; and projects like solar and wind farms that would produce energy and sell their output to utilities. Far from the scandals that animated conservatives, most of these loans are doing quite well. They’re virtually all current, paying interest and principal every quarter. Indeed, the interest payments received so far outweigh the losses on the failed borrowers. And the gains for the U.S. power industry at large have been far greater……….

The loan program says it has made loans to 17 entities that are currently producing power—and hence generating revenue to pay back their loans. Meanwhile, as the industry has gained scale (thanks in part to the Energy Department–backed projects), the price of building such plants has fallen. And so the private sector has seized the initiative. Solar and wind are booming in the U.S., as utilities, private equity firms, banks, startups, and Fortune 500 companies are rushing to finance the construction of dozens of large-scale emissions-free power plants. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the U.S. utility-scale solar sector grew 38 percent in 2014.  From nothing before the loan guarantees, utility-scale solar now accounts for about 4 gigawatts of generating capacity. It’s a genuine growth industry, financed largely by private funds.

In a way, this dynamic is no different than the one we’ve seen over the last two centuries, in which the first efforts at commercializing a new technology—the canal, the telegraph, the railroad, the Internet—were funded by the government, and then the private sector rushed in after it was proved to work…………

As with the financial bailouts, it is likely the taxpayers will get all the money they lent to energy-related companies back—and then some. Unlike the financial bailouts, these bailouts will produce lasting social, economic, environmental, and industrial benefits.

June 15, 2015 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Energy inefficiency and hot water pollution in Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station

nuke-tapOF NUCLEAR INTEREST: Energy efficiency and Pilgrim Nuclear The inefficiency of Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is overlooked when it comes to figuring out how we can use our resources in a more economically and environmentally sound manner. By Brian Boyle, William Maurer and Meg Sheehan  Cape Cod Bay Watch

Energy efficiency is on everyone’s mind these days. State and federal government programs incentivize homeowners and businesses to become more energy efficient. Yet, the inefficiency of Entergy’s Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station is overlooked when it comes to figuring out how we can use our resources in a more economically and environmentally sound manner.

An investigation into Pilgrim’s efficiency uncovered that about two-thirds (66 percent) of the heat energy produced is dumped into Cape Cod Bay as waste heat.

Pilgrim generates electricity by boiling water using nuclear fission, which creates steam. The steam runs turbines that make electricity. The cooling water Pilgrim needs for condensing the steam back into water comes from Cape Cod Bay: up to 510 million gallons every day. The water from Cape Cod Bay absorbs excess heat during the process of making electricity, and is pumped back into the Bay about 30 degrees Fahrenheit hotter.

Only about one-third (34 percent) of the heat energy produced at Pilgrim is converted into electricity for consumers. At this rate, Pilgrim is about as efficient as a typical coal fired power plant.

Entergy’s wasteful operations are sanctioned under an outdated Clean Water Act permit issued by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state. EPA and the state allow Entergy to use an inefficient, outdated “once-through” cooling water system to withdraw cooling water from Cape Cod Bay, instead of requiring a more efficient, updated closed-loop system. Pilgrim has been using this outdated cooling water system since it started operating in 1972. The hot water – or wasted energy – that Entergy dumps into Cape Cod Bay harms marine resources and pollutes our ocean.

Entergy’s use of Cape Cod Bay for cooling water is supposed to be tightly regulated by EPA and the state, to make sure Pilgrim uses the best technologies available that reduce environmental harm. However, since 1972, EPA and the state have not required any updates to Pilgrim’s cooling technology, and have let Entergy’s Clean Water Act permit expire in 1996 – almost two decades ago.

To put Pilgrim’s inefficiency and wastefulness into perspective, here is a comparison. The amount of heat energy Entergy dumps into the Bay each year – about 42 trillion BTUs – is enough to heat 437,800 homes every year with fuel oil. That’s more than four times the number of households on the Cape and Islands, and more than two times the number of households in Plymouth County.

The volume of water Entergy dumps into the Bay each year is more than enough to run a shower in every household on the Cape and Islands every day, all day, all year long. It is also 100 times more than the town of Plymouth’s Water Department pumps to meet the entire town’s municipal and domestic water requirements each year.


June 15, 2015 Posted by | environment, USA, water | 1 Comment

Public can comment on designated “potential conditions.” for Ontario nuclear waste dump

Canada opens comment period on nuclear dump proposed for Lake Huron , June 14, 2015 By Jim Bloch 

A month after the Joint Review Panel decided that the best place for a Canadian nuclear waste dump is less than a mile from the shores of Lake Huron, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency is calling for public comment on environmental conditions that would be imposed on Ontario Power Generation if the project gets a final go-ahead. The CEAA made the announcement on June 3.The general public, Aboriginal groups and registered participants in the Deep Geological Review process have 90 days to comment on 14 pages of “potential conditions.” The deadline is Sept. 1.

As a result, the agency has extended the timeline for a final decision by Minister of the Environment Leona Aglukkaq on the Environmental Assessment of the dump by 90 days. The deadline is now Dec. 2.

“It is interesting that the Minister of the Environment’s decision on the nuclear waste dump is being postponed from Sept. 3 until December, which falls after the federal election in October,” said Beverly Fernandez, founder of the Canadian organization Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump.

Critics of nuclear power were aghast at the Joint Panel’s decision in May to endorse the dump.

Western Michigan native Kevin Kamps works as a nuclear waste specialist for the Maryland-based Beyond Nuclear, an anti-nuclear group that supports renewable energy and nuclear disarmament. Kamps condemned the Joint Panel’s decision to endorse the dump, calling OPG’s proposal “insane” and labeling it “a declaration of war against the Great Lakes.”

Kamps is expected to speak about ways to stop the dump at 7 p.m. June 16 at the Donald Dodge Auditorium at the St. Clair County Administration Building, located at 200 Grand River Ave. in Port Huron.

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June 15, 2015 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment