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Sendai plant begins producing electricity after nearly 2 years of nuke-free nation

sendai 14 aug 2015Plant workers applaud as the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai nuclear plant starts

electricity generation and transmission on Aug. 14.

SATSUMA-SENDAI, Kagoshima Prefecture–Marking the end of 23 months of a nuclear power-free Japan, the Sendai nuclear power plant began generating and transmitting electricity on Aug. 14.

Kyushu Electric Power Co. activated the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant on Aug. 11, to become the first nuclear reactor brought back online under new safety regulations instituted by the Nuclear Regulation Authority after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The nation had been without nuclear power since September 2013.

At 9 a.m. on Aug. 14, utility workers connected an electrical generator with power cables from the plant’s central control room. The workers applauded when it was confirmed that the reactor began power generation and transmission for the first time in more than four years.

In a statement released the same day, Yoichi Miyazawa, the minister of trade and industry, said the start of generating and transmitting power at the plant “represents an important step forward to achieving a well-balanced energy mix and a more stable supply of electricity.”

The output from the reactor was expected to reach 30 percent of its full capacity of 890,000 kilowatts on Aug. 14, and will be raised gradually to reach full power generation in about 10 days.

The reactor is expected to begin commercial operations in early September unless the NRA detects safety problems during its final inspection.

Michiaki Uriu, Kyushu Electric Power president, said in a statement that the company will continue its efforts to improve safety at the plant with “determination to prevent an accident similar to the one at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant from occurring.”

“We will gradually increase the output while closely monitoring the condition of the plant,” he said.

Kyushu Electric officials said the utility will proceed cautiously with operation of the No. 1 reactor as its operations had been suspended for a periodic inspection in May 2011.

It will be the first time that electricity generated at a nuclear plant will be supplied to households and businesses since the No. 4 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture went offline in September 2013.

Kyushu Electric, which relied on nuclear energy for about 40 percent of its power supply before the Fukushima disaster unfurled, plans to restart the No. 2 reactor at the Sendai plant in mid-October.

It has also applied for NRA safety screening to resume operations of the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors at its Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture.

Preparations for restarts are progressing at the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors of Kansai Electric’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture and the No. 3 reactor of Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata nuclear power plant in Ehime Prefecture.

The restart of the Sendai plant is likely to give momentum to efforts by the electric power industry and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to restart idle nuclear reactors nationwide.

But municipalities located near nuclear power plants have yet to map out effective evacuation plans for people in local medical and welfare facilities in the event of nuclear accidents.

A shortage of buses and other transportation modes to evacuate residents remains unsolved, while it also is unclear if utility companies can effectively shut down reactors when a Fukushima-level accident takes place at a nuclear plant.

Opinion polls have shown that more Japanese are opposed to the reactor restarts than those who support them.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201508140058

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima evacuees return home during Bon to visit ancestors’ graves

13 aug 2015 obon in okuma, fukKuniyuki and Reiko Sakuma, along with their daughter Rie Hosoya, right, clean the graves of their ancestors in Okuma, 500 meters from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, in Fukushima Prefecture on Aug. 13.

OKUMA, Fukushima Prefecture–Clad in masks, caps and other protective gear, a handful of evacuees from the Fukushima nuclear disaster returned to their hometown here to pay their respects at the graves of their ancestors.

Kuniyuki Sakuma, 65, and his wife, Reiko, 66, visited the tomb of Sakuma’s father on Aug. 13, located just 500 meters from the embattled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Their visit coincided with the traditional Bon festival in which people stop by their ancestors’ graves.

Sakuma and his wife remain evacuated in Iwaki, also in the prefecture, due to the lingering high levels of radiation in Okuma. About 110,000 people remain evacuated from their homes in Fukushima Prefecture.

A year after the onset of the 2011 nuclear disaster, Sakuma’s father, Kunimaru, died of a ruptured aneurysm while living in temporary housing as an evacuee. Kunimaru had taken great pride in running a successful pear farm in Okuma and often expressed his desire to return to his farm.

Although his tomb is currently in Okuma, Kunimaru’s final resting place remains unknown as the grave site is marked for the construction of an interim facility to store contaminated soil and material from cleanup efforts at localities surrounding the nuclear plant.

Sakuma said the Environment Ministry has provided no information on what will become of his father’s tomb.

On Aug. 13, airborne radiation levels at the grave site measured more than 100 times the levels in Iwaki.

Sakuma said he understands that returning to Okuma to live is unrealistic. But he added that he cannot readily abandon the land where his parents once resided.

During their one-hour visit, Sakuma and his wife also stopped by their Okuma home to find their garden overrun with weeds.

“I wonder if my father would be upset if I move the grave somewhere else,” Sakuma said. “I would not have to be worried about this kind of thing if the nuclear disaster had not occurred in the first place.”

Source: Asahi Shimbun
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201508140038

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Tepco readies to install unit 3 cover

From World Nuclear News, a pro-nuclear website

Fukushima Daiichi 3 cover preparations - aug 13 2015

The installation of a protective cover over unit 3 of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan can start as soon as the removal of rubble from the reactor building is completed, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) said.

Plans were announced in November 2012 for a cover to be constructed to encase the unit’s damaged reactor building, protecting it from the weather and preventing any release of radioactive particles during decommissioning work.

The section of the reactor building that sheltered the service floor of unit 3 was wrecked by a hydrogen explosion three days after the tsunami of March 2011 – leaving the fuel pond exposed and covered by debris including many twisted steel beams.

The fabrication of the cover has been under way since November 2013 at the Onahama works in Iwaki city. It has been made in sections so that once it is transported to Fukushima Daiichi, the time to assemble it can be shortened and the radiation exposure to the workers on site can be significantly reduced, Tepco said.

A separate structure will be built to facilitate the removal by crane of used fuel from the storage pool. This 54-metre-tall structure will include a steel frame, filtered ventilation and an arched section at its top to accommodate the crane. Measuring 57 metres long and 19 metres wide, it will not be fixed to the reactor building itself, but will be supported on the ground on one side, and against the turbine building on the other.

On 2 August, Tepco announced that it had removed the fuel handling machine, the largest remaining piece of rubble, from the unit’s used fuel pool at the top of its reactor building. Its removal followed months of preparation and clears the way for the remaining rubble and the used fuel in the storage pool to be removed.

The assembly of the protective cover over unit 3 will start once all the rubble is removed.

Tepco said there are a total of 566 fuel assemblies inside the unit’s pool and the cover will prevent radioactive substances from scattering during their removal.

The fuel removed from unit 3 will be packaged for transport the short distance to the site’s communal fuel storage pool, although it will need to be inspected and flushed clean of dust and debris.

Source: World Nuclear News

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Tepco-readies-to-install-unit-3-cover-1308155.html

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

VOX POPULI: Trickery ensures nobody gets blamed if nuclear restart goes wrong

The Bay of Pigs Invasion of April 1961, undertaken by the United States to overthrow the Fidel Castro regime in Cuba, ended in dismal failure. It left a stain on the administration of President John F. Kennedy, which was still only in its third month.

Kennedy is said to have been reluctant to go ahead with this campaign. But he accepted responsibility for the failure and said at a news conference, “Victory has a thousand fathers, but defeat is an orphan.”

This famous Kennedy quote drips with sarcasm. When something goes right, everyone wants to claim credit. But when something goes wrong, nobody comes forward to assume responsibility.

I am probably not the only person who was reminded of this quote by the appalling irresponsibility of the people involved in the new National Stadium project.

And there is also the matter of the reactivation of the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai nuclear power plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. In taking the first step back to nuclear power generation, the parties concerned left their own responsibilities completely vague, perhaps in order to dodge criticism from people opposed to nuclear power generation, or as a precaution just in case something goes wrong later.

Kyushu Electric Power is primarily responsible for restarting the reactor, but it was the government that gave the green light.

The government stresses that Japan has “the most stringent safety requirements (for nuclear reactor operation) in the world.” But the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the nation’s nuclear watchdog, says that “accidents can happen even if the safety requirements are met,” and that it withholds “judgment on whether reactors should be restarted or not.”

There are just too many questions that remain unanswered.

In a collusive relationship, it is easy for everyone to practice obfuscation to escape responsibility. The Fukushima disaster of March 2011 was evidence of the government’s failed energy policy. It also destroyed the “safety myth” of nuclear power generation. The grave responsibility of the political, bureaucratic and academic communities should have been thoroughly scrutinized then, but the matter was never really pursued.

As a result, many of the helpless and innocent residents who had to leave their hometowns are still living in “exile” today.

After one year and 11 months of zero nuclear power generation nationwide, electricity generated by nuclear energy will start reaching consumers again Aug. 14. Electricity is electricity, no matter what the source. Where it comes from is irrelevant so long as it delivers cool air from the air-conditioning unit and turns lights on.

But if we unthinkingly go back to a society where nuclear power generation is simply taken for granted, we would be wasting the bitter lessons we learned from the Fukushima disaster.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/vox/AJ201508130051

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

August 14 Energy News

geoharvey

Science and Technology:

¶ Ask electric vehicle drivers what they don’t like about their electric car experience and the chances are most of them would say charging their vehicles away from home is their least favorite thing. Now, researchers in England are exploring the possibility of making wireless recharging available on some motorways, the English equivalent to our interstate highways. [CleanTechnica]

The possibility of EV recharging lanes is being explored in the UK. The possibility of EV recharging lanes is being explored in the UK.

World:

¶ India’s Ministry of New & Renewable Energy shared annual capacity addition targets for the National Solar Mission. India aims to install a solar power capacity of 100 GW by 2022, including 40 GW of rooftop solar power capacity and 57 GW of utility-scale. Earlier this year, when it had 3 GW installed, it increased the targets to those levels from a target of 22 GW by 2022. [CleanTechnica]

¶ The Indian…

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August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

91-Year-Old Palmer Carlin – Wind Energy Pioneer: Still Working, Still Mentoring at NREL and Still Disgusting the Nuclear Industry and its Cheerleaders

Mining Awareness +

When announcing the construction of the permanent facility for what is now NREL, on May 3, 1978, which he had declared Sun Day, then President Jimmy Carter, who is the same age as Palmer Carlin, said: “We know that most of the technology for using the Sun’s power already exists. And in my youth, as in many of yours, there were millions of windmills around the rural areas of our country. Hundreds of small damsites provided electric power. Some 10,000 years ago, in your area, Indians were using solar principles to heat dwellings at Mesa Verde and elsewhere. The historically brief availability of low-cost energy from fossil fuels drove much of that early solar technology into temporary disuse, but now we are rebuilding on those earlier techniques.” (“Golden, Colorado, [Jimmy Carter] “Remarks at the Solar Energy Research Institute on South Table Mountain. May 3, 1978“)

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August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The UK’s Polonium Secret and “No Respect for Life, Liberty or Any Civilised Values”

Mining Awareness +

Tsar Nicolas of Russia and George V of England
Tsar Nicholas II of Russia with his physically similar cousin, King George V of the United Kingdom (right), in German military uniforms in Berlin before the war; 1913https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_II_of_Russia
Moorside Sheep looking toward Sellafield Streetview
Sheep looking anxiously toward Sellafield from the area of the proposed Franco-Japanese (“GDF-Suez”, renamed “Engie” – Toshiba) Moorside Nuclear Power Station.

On 1 November 2006, Litvinenko suddenly fell ill and was hospitalized. He died three weeks later, becoming the first confirmed victim of lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_of_Alexander_Litvinenko

On his deathbed, Alexander Litvinenko stated that Putin had him killed. He had the following to say about Putin: You have shown yourself to be as barbaric and ruthless as your most hostile critics have claimed. You have shown yourself to have no respect for life, liberty or any civilised value. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poisoning_of_Alexander_Litvinenko
Wait… this actually is why and how the Caribbean, the US, and Australia were…

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August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is happening in the UK? The new government makes a sharp move away from clean energy in favor of costly polluting sources.

GreenWorld

The Hinkley Point site in southern England, where the UK wants to build the single most expensive nuclear reactor ever considered by any nation. Existing reactors at the Hinkley Point site in southern England, where the UK wants to build the single most expensive nuclear reactor ever considered by any nation. Photo from Wikipedia.

The headlines flash daily about major changes in energy policy in the UK; none of them good news. The slashing of support for solar, energy efficiency and other clean energy programs and at the same time an apparent intent to spend absolutely mind-blowing amounts of money on new, untried, and highly risky nuclear power reactors. From the point of view of an America where, haltingly but steadily, clean energy is gaining a true foothold and is moving ahead, it seems incomprehensible that our closest ally would move in the opposite direction of most of the world’s industrial economies. Could that really be true?

So we asked veteran UK activist Pete Roche to explain what is happening in the UK. And…

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August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Is the Pacific Ocean Japan’s private dumpyard?

released every day into the pacific ocean 

An article coming from the Yomiuri Shimbun, a pro-government media, its director and Prime Minister Abe are very best friends.

Read between the lines, funny enough the title says it all: the most important part of the Tepco Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning plan is to be able to dump as much contaminated water as possible into the Pacific Ocean.

Mind you Tepco has been already doing that all along since the beginning, but in a sneaky manner. With the now obtained approval of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, Tepco will be able to do it in the open and in a grand manner.

Mind you, what Tepco calls decontaminated water, is contaminated water which has been only partially decontaminated, as the two decontamination systems Alps and Kurion can only filter, remove, 62 radionuclides out of the 1270 radionuclides present in that contaminated water.

This confirms what we already knew of Tepco’s intentions, somehow Tepco and the Japanese Government since day one have been considering our Pacific Ocean to be their contaminated water private dumpyard. 

Why other countries of the Pacific region are not protesting against this constant radioactive water duumping which has been ongoing now for more than 4 years? 

Release of treated water into sea a step toward Fukushima decommissioning

A solid step has been taken toward the decommissioning of the reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations has approved TEPCO’s plan to release water into the ocean after it has been decontaminated.

Under the plan, TEPCO will pump up water from wells, called subdrains, around reactor buildings at the plant. This water will then be treated and discharged into the sea. There are expectations that this will reduce the volume of contaminated water generated when groundwater accumulates inside buildings wrecked by the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami.

As preconditions for accepting the subdrain plan, the prefectural fisheries federation listed five demands, including improving public channels of information regarding the plan’s stringent water management and safety. These conditions were set out of the federation’s concern about groundless rumors surrounding the plan. TEPCO must sincerely handle these demands and ensure the water release plan is translated into action soon.

Regarding water quality management, TEPCO plans to set a stringent goal of cleaning the water to a level that exceeds international standards for drinking water. It is conducting water purification tests using a special-purpose treatment system. We hope the utility will release this data and carefully explain the system to clear up any anxiety felt by the public.

Initially, the volume of groundwater seeping into the buildings at the nuclear plant reached about 400 tons a day.

Since May 2014, TEPCO has been pumping up groundwater from other wells on the hill near the plant and releasing it into the sea before it flows into the buildings and becomes contaminated. This process has reduced the daily volume of water entering the buildings to about 300 tons a day.

TEPCO believes realization of the plan to pump water from the subdrains and discharging it into the sea after treatment could halve the volume of water entering the wrecked buildings to about 150 tons per day.

Undoubtedly, this will significantly reduce the labor required for managing contaminated water at the plant.

A boost for ‘ice wall’

The fisheries federation stated that the reduced risk of ocean contamination was one reason for its decision to give the green light to the plan.

An impermeable wall has been built along the port in front of the wrecked plant to prevent contaminated water from reaching the sea. The wall contains an opening about 10 meters wide, so it is not completely closed off. The federation viewed the flow of contaminated water through this opening into the port as a problem.

This opening was left because completely blocking off the groundwater would have the effect of a dam, and the water level behind it would rise. There were fears this would increase the volume of water entering the buildings.

By pumping up groundwater through the subdrains, the impermeable wall can be sealed off and any rise in the water level can be prevented. This should help to dispel groundless rumors.

There are also expectations that pumping up groundwater and reducing the water level will enable greater progress in TEPCO’s construction of an “ice wall,” in which soil around the reactor buildings will be frozen to stop groundwater from entering the buildings.

However, even after treated water is discharged into the sea, contaminated water will continue to accumulate. A veritable forest of about 950 large tanks, which combined hold about 690,000 tons of water, already stands within the plant’s premises. Sooner or later, it will become difficult to secure space to install any more tanks.

Purification of the water stored in these tanks is progressing steadily. At some point, discharging this water into the sea also will need to be considered.

Source: Yomiuri Shimbun

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002353495

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | 2 Comments

Why was the Sendai nuclear power plant restarted?

Two of Japan’s reactors—Units 1 and 2 of the Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai nuclear power plant—have just restarted, and Unit 1 should begin generating electricity on August 14. Like all other Japanese nuclear power plants, Sendai was shut down after the events at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, in which an earthquake, a tsunami, egregious design mistakes, and a poor safety culture combined to form “a cascade of stupid errors” that led to a triple meltdown.

This is the first restart of any of Japan’s 43 operable commercial reactors since Fukushima, and it is happening despite many unresolved questions concerning nuclear safety regulations. When it comes to safety, the Sendai nuclear power plant is definitely not at the head of the class: The utility owning the power plant was given a pass despite a very problematic history. (At one point, a regulatory commissioner called the plan to restart Sendai “wishful thinking”.)

There is certainly no nationwide re-emergence of nuclear power in Japan. Indeed, there have been vocal public protests against the Sendai restart. One of the protestors even included a former prime minister of Japan.

So, why is it happening? What are the ostensible reasons for a restart? Were they valid?

A three-pointed rationalization. The justification for a restart was based upon three key points: the type of reactors to be used at Sendai were considered inherently “safer;” the chance of a similar natural disaster(s) was considered to be minimal; and the concerns of the local communities were dismissed as inconsequential.

Let us look at each of these items in turn.

Pressurized water reactors are considered inherently safe. Because strict new standards for the regulation of nuclear power plants were imposed in July 2012—the result of the belated adoption of a tougher global standard—Japan’s newly formed Nuclear Regulation Authority deemed that pressurized water reactors (PWRs) such as those used at Sendai were safer than the boiling water reactor technology used at the ill-fated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Consequently, facilities with PWRs were given a longer time span—five years—to introduce severe accident countermeasures when the new regulation standards come into force.

For example, a nuclear power plant using a pressurized water reactor is not required to immediately install a filtered containment venting system to prevent large-scale radioactive contamination to the environment if the containment vessel inside is damaged. The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s reasoning is that the risk of containment vessel damage is low in a pressurized water reactor because it is so much larger than in a boiling water reactor, thus allowing considerably more time before any accident measures must be put into effect. Building on this logic, the agency then gave a temporary exemption to the requirement to install the venting system to any facility using PWRs. This relieved the plant operators of heavy burdens in terms of both finances and preparatory work. All 10 of the nuclear power plants (representing six different electric companies) that applied for the waiver use pressurized water reactors.

But PWRs are not inherently safe at all; for example, their steam generators are a serious concern. In 1991, the steam generator in the pressurized water reactor at Mihama Unit 2 of Kansai Electric Power in Japan was damaged, and the emergency core cooling system had to activated. Though caused by something as simple as the failure of the mount of a metal fitting, the resulting accident was rated at Level 3, or “serious incident,” on the seven levels of the International Nuclear Event Scale. Similarly, in 2013, Unit 2 and Unit 3 of the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California had to be closed due to a radiation leak from the plant’s virtually new steam generators; the two units subsequently had to be retired and the plant is now in the process of a costly decommissioning, predicted to cost $3 billion. And San Onofre used pressurized water reactor technology.

Natural disasters can be predicted. There are many glaring problems with this argument, not the least of which is the tendency of, say, volcanoes to behave in ways we don’t foresee. This is of major concern in Japan, which sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire, where tectonic plates interact and a large chunk of the planet’s volcanic eruptions and earthquakes takes place. Kyushu Electric Power claims that volcanic eruptions can be readily predicted, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority accepted this argument. But many volcanologists insist that it is scientifically impossible to predict the eruption of a volcano—and there are many volcanoes and calderas near the Sendai nuclear power plant. According to a survey conducted by Kyushu Electric Power, catastrophic eruptions have been occurring on a 90,000-year cycle at the Aira Caldera, located 53 kilometers, or about 33 miles, from the Sendai site, with the latest eruption about 30,000 years ago. (There have been many smaller, near-continuous eruptions in the caldera since 1955.) Furthermore, sediment from the pyroclastic flow of a volcano has been discovered only 5 kilometers, or roughly 3 miles, from the reactors at Sendai.

Another problem comes from trying to determine the maximum acceleration likely to occur at the time of an earthquake. This is an issue of tremendous concern, because there are about 1,500 earthquakes of varying sizes in Japan every year. In the words of the World Nuclear Association: “Because of the frequency and magnitude of earthquakes in Japan, extra attention is paid to seismic activity in the siting, design, and construction of nuclear power plants. The seismic design of such plants is based on criteria far more stringent than those applying to non-nuclear facilities.”

Yet one of the reasons that the authority announced fast-track approval for Sendai was based upon a recalculation of the largest earthquake that could reasonably be expected to occur at the site of this nuclear power plant—which was found to be larger and more devastating than before, based upon the known seismicity of the area and local active faults. Known as “peak ground acceleration,” this figure is expressed in the number of centimeters per second squared, also known as “Galileo units” or Gal. Setting the value of a specific region’s peak ground acceleration is difficult scientifically; guessing just how bad an earthquake can get is the cause of many safety design revisions and much expense. In the case of the Kyushu Electric Power Company, however, the company not only said on its restart application that an earthquake was likely to be worse than previously expected (620 Gal rather than the earlier estimate of 540 Gal), it cavalierly said that its current reactor would be able to handle the higher figure. The NRA apparently considered this platitude about the resiliency of the company’s Sendai plant to be a statement of scientific fact and sufficient in terms of safety.

And some seismologists insist that an earthquake at Sendai is likely to be even more severe—they say that the earth could shake much more than 620 centimeters (about 20 feet) per second squared. For example, Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a Kobe University professor and seismologist, has been warning about the problem of nuclear power plant accidents caused by earthquakes since his first book on the topic in 1994—17 years before what happened at Fukushima Daiichi. (Ishibashi even coined a term in the Japanese language to describe the problem: “gempatsu shinsai,” or “nuclear earthquake disaster.”) He insists that the intensity of a more severe earthquake is underestimated because the current value does not take into consideration other phenomena, such as an interplate earthquake.

And in any case, the 620 Gal figure comes from earthquake data collected from the north end of Japan, while the Sendai nuclear power plant is located at the south end, where conditions may be different. So, we don’t precisely know just how severe the peak ground acceleration will be at Sendai.

There is no available scientific literature on the influence of a major earthquake on delicate devices such as the steam generators used in pressurized water reactors.

Concerns of the local communities were dismissed. After the Nuclear Regulation Authority granted its approval in regards to the safety requirements, the final hurdle was to secure approval from two of the local governments: Kagoshima prefecture and Satsumasendai city. If they agreed, then the Sendai facility could restart.

Other neighboring communities, including six cities and two towns, had asked that the prefecture and the city include them in the list of “local governments of the nuclear power plant site.” They based their request on the fact that they would likely be affected by any radioactive contamination—after all, the plume caused by the Fukushima accident spread over 250 kilometers (155 miles) from the reactor site. But only those communities within 8 to 10 kilometers (about 5 to 6 miles) from the Sendai nuclear power plant were allowed to participate.

And even those within that radius were sometimes barred from having their concerns heard. A neighboring city, Ichikikushikino, is located just 5 kilometers (about 3 miles) from the Sendai plant, but that city’s request to be heard was denied by the governor of Kagoshima prefecture governor, Yuichi Ito, and by the mayor of Satsumasendai city, Hideo Iwakiri. This refusal is assumed to be based on two reasons: In addition to the difficulty of summarizing the different opinions on the nuclear restart, prefecture and city officials were concerned about having to decrease their own constituents’ share of the subsidy benefits that are to be provided by the plant to local governments. In the end, only Kagoshima prefecture and Satsumasendai city approved the restart in November 2014.

Other actions by the prefecture governor caused problems, as well. The prefecture’s disaster prevention plan was supposed to include an evacuation program for people requiring special assistance in any medical or welfare facilities located within 30 kilometers (about 20 miles) from the Sendai nuclear power plant. The prefectural governor, however, declared that an area within 10 kilometers (roughly 6 miles) from the power plant was more than sufficient as the target area for this program. Therefore, the number of applicable facilities was reduced from 244 facilities to to only 17 facilities, or less than one-tenth the original number. Furthermore, an evacuation facility that had been constructed by repairing an old elementary school, Yorita Elementary, turned out to have insufficient protective measures against radiation, even though the total construction cost for the facility was the equivalent of $760,000.

The real reasons for the restart. The decision to restart the reactor at Sendai is probably based upon the “dismal science:” economics.

It seems that financial considerations and worries about the health of the national and local economies triumphed over safety concerns; an article in the Japan Times says that when Kyushu Electric tried to turn to other means of generating electricity—such as thermal power—its costs more than doubled. “The huge costs have weighed heavily on its earnings. The company is aiming to shore up its earnings by reactivating idled nuclear power reactors. Kyushu Electric expects that the restart of the Sendai Number 1 reactor will save the company about 7.5 billion yen (over $60 million) per month.”

Kyushu Electric Power had previously tried raising the price of electricity after their nuclear power plant was stopped, but that still was not enough—their deficit continued. The best hope of profitability comes from restarting nuclear power plants.

This concern for their bottom line may be understandable, but it seems to come at the expense of public safety and open, democratic, rational decision-making. Kyushu Electric Power has used questionable means to promote its agenda. For example, at an informational meeting for local residents about nuclear power plant operation only three months after the Fukushima accident, Kyushu Electric Power sent in undercover employees pretending to be ordinary citizens, who then stood up and spoke in favor of nuclear power. The company also tried to manipulate public opinion by sending in “fake e-mails” in support of the restart of nuclear power plants to a television broadcaster. The president of Kyushu Electric Power resigned after the ruses were discovered.

Meanwhile, Kyushu Electric Power still refuses to hold talks with citizen groups and neighboring local governments, even after the plant has been cleared to restart. They also refused an offer from nearly 100 citizen groups this March to hold a discussion, and did not accept a petition containing more than 100,000 signatures. The company continues to refuse the requests of many local governments within the 30 kilometer (20 miles) radius of the Sendai site.

Economics also played a role in another way: The prefecture and the nearest city are financially dependent on nuclear energy. For a long time, the prefecture governor has been clearly stating that he endorses the restart. After the prefectural assembly election this April, he revealed that the reason the restart was approved in November 2014 was to avoid having it become an election issue.

Satsumasendai city receives more than $12 million in grants annually from the nuclear industry, which it uses to pay for its public and educational facilities, receiving about $270 million over the years. According to the Satsumasendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the overall economic benefit of the restart of the Sendai nuclear power plant is approximately $25 million to the local economy yearly.

There are also questions of transparency in the dealings of local government authorities with Kyushu Electric Power. According to an article published this January by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, construction companies run by members of the Kagoshima prefectural assembly received 26 orders for construction work at Sendai, representing $2.5 million of work, in the three years since the Fukushima accident. Not surprisingly, these members of the prefectural assembly endorsed the restart of the Sendai nuclear power plant.

According to a survey conducted this May by a major local newspaper, MinamiNippon Shimbun, 59.9 percent of those polled were against a restart of the Sendai nuclear power plant. But their opinions may not be regarded as important because they have no economic significance. In this way, strict regulations are not being applied to nuclear decisions, even after the Fukushima accident. Economics was considered more important than human life: That is why the Sendai nuclear power plant was able to restart.

Source: Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

http://thebulletin.org/why-was-sendai-nuclear-power-plant-restarted8644

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Notes on the week’s nuclear and climate news

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

WORLD. Ban nuclear weapons – call from Pope Francis on Nagasaki remembrance day.

EUROPE. Transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) provisions undermine democracy.

CHINA. Nuclear experts sent to test China’s Tianjin explosion site. Explosion in warehouse supplying nuclear fuel.This item has since disappeared from Internet news.

Typhoon Soudelor hits Taiwan, then China’s coast – danger to nuclear stations.  Solar power races ahead as China builds huge station in Gobi desert

UKRAINE. More Wildfires Near Chernobyl .

JAPANSendai nuclear station restarted because economics are ‘more important’ than human life. But a nuclear revival in Japan is by no means a sure thingVolcano issues unaddressed in nuclear plant restart.  Thousands hospitalised as Tokyo experiences record heat wave .

Fukushima. “Trillions of becquerels of radioactive material still flowing into sea” at Fukushima. With 2020 Olympics in mind. Japan’s govt trying to coerce Fukushima evacuees back.

IRAN.  The essence of the Iran nuclear deal.   Iran would not be able to hide evidence of nuclear weapons work. 29top USA scientists back Obama’s ‘stringent’ deal with Iran.  Iran nuclear deal is supported by Jews in Iran.   Israel toonce again assassinate Iranian Nuclear Scientists?

USA. USA nuclear weapons numbers shrink, but nuclear weapons budget balloons out.  $4.1-million settlement to Hanford nuclear weapons site whistle-blower. Total lifetime costs of Vogtle nuclear station estimated at $65 billion and risingSeawater heating up causes partial shutdown for Pilgrim nuclear station. Confusing message in new documentary about #uranium – a ‘soft sell’ for the nuclear lobby? Northern California National Forests on Fire.

UK. UK energy analysts unhappy with super costly Hinkley nuclear project. How the BBC distorted the story of Sellafield. UK government just quietly funding Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.

MIDDLE EAST. Extreme Heat Leads To Deaths, Protests.

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

Nuclear experts sent to test China’s Tianjin explosion site

Chemical, nuclear experts testing Tianjin blast site, Aljazeera America,  Military has begun work on the ground in China’s northern port city where two explosions killed at least 55 dead August 14, 2015 China has sent chemical experts into Tianjin to test for toxic gases after a series of deadly explosions.

The team of nuclear and chemical experts is on the ground on Friday in the northern port city of Tianjin, the scene of two massive explosions that have left at least 55 people dead. Seventeen of the dead were from among the more than 1,000 firefighters sent to the mostly industrial zone to fight the ensuing blaze, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Explosion Tianjin 15

The chemical experts were testing the area for toxic gases, the official news agency Xinhua said, adding that the death toll had climbed to 55, with 701 admitted to hospital.

The team of 217 nuclear and biochemical materials specialists from the Chinese military began work at the site on Thursday.

The explosions at a warehouse for hazardous chemicals in the Chinese port of Tianjin on Wednesday raised questions about the whether the materials had been properly stored. Windows were shattered for miles around by the shockwaves, and the explosions were so big they were seen by satellites in space and registered on earthquake sensors.

Officials in Tianjin said they did not yet know what materials were at the hazardous goods storage facility where the explosions happened, or the cause of the blast.

But the Beijing News reported earlier that according to manufacturers, at least 700 ton of sodium cyanide were at the site, along with other substances, and the poisonous chemical had been detected in sewage samples in the area.

The report was no longer available on the newspaper’s website on Friday………..

ianjin is the 10th largest port in the world by container volume, according to the World Shipping Council, and the seventh-biggest in China. It handles vast amounts of metal ore, coal, steel, cars and crude oil.

Ships carrying oil and “hazardous products” were barred from the port Thursday, the Tianjin Maritime Safety Administration said on its official microblog. It also said vessels were not allowed to enter the central port zone, which is near the blast site.

State media said senior management of the company had been detained, and that President Xi Jinping demanded severe punishment for anyone found responsible for the explosions……..

As is customary during disasters, Chinese authorities tried to keep a tight control over information. Police kept journalists and bystanders away with a cordon about a mile from the site. On China’s popular microblogging platform of Weibo, some users complained that their posts about the blasts were deleted, and the number of searchable posts on the disaster fluctuated, in a sign that authorities were manipulating or placing limits on the number of posts.

The Tianjin government said that because of the blasts it had suspended online access to public corporate records. These records might be used to trace the ownership of Ruihai. It was not clear whether the blackout was due to technical damage related to the explosion. No one answered the phone at the Tianjin Market and Quality Supervision Administration or the Tianjin Administration for Industry and Commerce on Thursday.

Ruihai Logistics said on its website — before it was shut down — that it was established in 2011 and is an approved company for handling hazardous materials. It said it handles 1 million tons of cargo annually……..http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2015/8/13/at-least-50-dead-and-hundreds-injured-in-chinese-warehouse-explosion.html

August 14, 2015 Posted by | China, incidents | Leave a comment

More Wildfires Near Chernobyl; Europe Must Help with Firefighters & Prevention; Fires are Important Consideration for Chernobyl Spent Fuel Facility; Holtec’s History of Corruption Should Exclude Them from the Project

Mining Awareness +

Plume of smoke from fire near Chernobyl at Terra MODIS (NASA) image of 10 August 2015 via Greenpeace Russia
Plume of smoke from fire near Chernobyl from Terra MODIS (NASA) image of 10 August 2015 via Greenpeace Russia

Fires in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone continue to be a major hazard, which can impact Europe depending on the wind direction and which, in a worst case scenario, could make Europe uninhabitable. Europe needs to be sending firefighting manpower and expertise, including forestry experts, no strings attached, to help the Ukraine prevent and stop these fires.

Fire should be foremost in everyone’s minds, when considering the Ukraine’s new nuclear waste facility. This should include consideration of use of German dry casks, which resist fire for one hour.[1] The US transportation casks are only required to be resistant for 30 minutes in fire, and the US licensed non-transportation dry casks (which includes French ones), are even less resistant. Innovation is desperately needed for safe nuclear fuel storage. Focus needs to be on…

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August 14, 2015 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How the BBC distorted the story of Sellafield

The spectre of the new nuclear renaissance

Al’Khalili then went on to give every impression that high level nuclear waste can be safely stored using the process of ‘vitrification’, that is, turning it in glass, and so binding the waste safely into a permanent, impermeable matrix.

What he failed to mention is that the glass is by no means permanent and durable storage medium for “thousands of generations” as the glass is liable to break down – and that the problem of long term disposal of these wastes remains unsolved. For example, asR C Ewing and colleagues wrote in 1995 in the journal Progress in Nuclear Energy,

“the post-disposal radiation damage to waste form glasses and crystalline ceramics is significant. The cumulative α-decay doses which are projected for nuclear waste glasses … are well within the range for which important changes in the physical and chemical properties may occur, e.g. the transition from the crystalline-to-aperiodic state in ceramics.”

Sellafield-reprocessing
highly-recommended‘Inside Sellafield’ and military plutonium – the BBC’s nuclear lies of omission http://www.
theecologist.org/reviews/2984689/inside_sellafield_and_military_plutonium_the_bbcs_nuclear_lies_

of_omission.html
 
Dr David Lowry 12th August 2015

 Professor ‘Jim’ Al’Khalili’s ‘Inside Sellafield’ programme was a tour de force of pro-nuclear propaganda, writes David sellafield-2011Lowry – understating the severity of accidents, concealing the role of the UK’s nuclear power stations in breeding military plutonium, and giving false reassurance over the unsolved problems of high level nuclear waste.
To mark the 70th anniversary of the first detonations of atomic bombs, two of which were used to immolate over 200,000 people instantly when exploded over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki respectively on 6 and 9 August 1945, the BBC has created a special ‘nuclear season’ of programmes examining the civil and military aspects of nuclear energy.

For one of these programmes the BBC commissioned Baghdad-born Professor Jameel ‘Jim’ Al-Khalili, theoretical physicist and Chair in the Public Engagement in Science from the University of Surrey, to research and present one programme called ‘Britain’s Nuclear Secrets: Inside Sellafield‘.

As a regular BBC broadcaster, hosting the long-running The Life Scientific on Radio 4, and maker of several science television programmes on television, including on quantum physics and the history of electricity, he was eminently qualified to make this programme.

However the programme was highly misleading thanks to major omissions, concealing the severity of accidents, and how the UK’s entire ‘civilian’ nuclear programme was subverted into producing military plutonium that fed into the Sellafield bomb factory. Continue reading

August 14, 2015 Posted by | media, Reference, spinbuster, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Sendai nuclear station restarted because economics are ‘more important’ than human life

The real reasons for the restart. The decision to restart the reactor at Sendai is probably based upon the “dismal science:” economics. It seems that financial considerations and worries about the health of the national and local economies triumphed over safety concerns.

bribery-1The prefecture and the nearest city are financially dependent on nuclear energy.

Satsumasendai city receives more than $12 million in grants annually from the nuclear industry, which it uses to pay for its public and educational facilities, receiving about $270 million over the years.

There are also questions of transparency in the dealings of local government authorities with Kyushu Electric Power.

Economics was considered more important than human life: That is why the Sendai nuclear power plant was able to restart.

 

 

Why was the Sendai nuclear power plant restarted? http://thebulletin.org/why-was-sendai-nuclear-power-plant-restarted8644 Tadahiro Katsuta 13 Aug 15   Two of Japan’s reactors—Units 1 and 2 of the Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai nuclear power plant—have just restarted, and Unit 1 should begin generating electricity on August 14. Like all other Japanese nuclear power plants, Sendai was shut down after the events at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, in which an earthquake, a tsunami, egregious design mistakes, and a poor safety culture combined to form “a cascade of stupid errors” that led to a triple meltdown.This is the first restart of any of Japan’s 43 operable commercial reactors since Fukushima, and it is happening despite many unresolved questions concerning nuclear safety regulations. When it comes to safety, the Sendai nuclear power plant is definitely not at the head of the class: The utility owning the power plant was given a pass despite a very problematic history. (At one point, a regulatory commissioner called the plan to restart Sendai “wishful thinking”.)

There is certainly no nationwide re-emergence of nuclear power in Japan. Indeed, there have been vocal public protests against the Sendai restart. One of the protestors even included a former prime minister of Japan.

So, why is it happening? What are the ostensible reasons for a restart? Were they valid?

A three-pointed rationalization. The justification for a restart was based upon three key points: the type of reactors to be used at Sendai were considered inherently “safer;” the chance of a similar natural disaster(s) was considered to be minimal; and the concerns of the local communities were dismissed as inconsequential.

Let us look at each of these items in turn. Continue reading

August 14, 2015 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment