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August’s 3rd worker died in Fukushima plant after the work of retained contaminated water beside Reactor 1


On 8/22/2015, Tepco announced another Fukushima worker died in the plant.

This is not covered by the mass media for some reason.

At 13:10 of 8/21/2015, it was reported to the emergency headquarters that a subcontract worker lost the consciousness. The worker was transporting equipment related to the retained contaminated water beside Reactor 1 turbine building.

The worker was sent to Iwaki Kyouritsu Hospital by ambulance but confirmed to be dead at 15:47 of the day.

The age and gender are not reported.

In August, 3 workers are already dead in Fukushima plant.

(cf, Another Fukushima worker died after leaving the frozen wall area / Tepco “the cause of death is not identified” [URL 1])

(cf, One more Fukushima worker found dead with his head caught in the lid of a vacuum truck [URL 2])

Source: Fukushima Diary

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Behind the Scenes / Proving negligence in TEPCO case daunting


On July 31, the Tokyo No. 5 Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution announced its decision that former Tokyo Electric Power Co. Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, and two other former company executives “should be indicted” in connection with the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster.

In this case the “will of the people” has spoken to counter the prosecutor’s decision not to indict, but proving culpable negligence in an accident associated with a natural disaster will be difficult. The prosecution’s designated lawyer is expected to face an uphill battle to convict the three men.

Concrete recognition

“The decision clearly states that [TEPCO] should’ve been able to foresee the onslaught of the tsunami,” said Hiroyuki Kawai, lawyer for the Complainants for the Criminal Prosecution of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster, at a press conference held in Tokyo following the decision to indict. “The prospects for the trial are bright.”

The inquest committee and the prosecution, however, are far apart over whether the three individuals accused could “foresee” the likelihood of a massive tsunami and the ensuing disaster.

In 2008, TEPCO published the results of preliminary calculations that predicted a maximum credible tsunami of 15.7 meters based on a long-term assessment by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion.

The Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office concluded that establishing “foreseeability” meant more concrete evidence was needed beyond a vague foreboding of danger or anxiety, deemed that TEPCO’s preliminary tsunami reports couldn’t be regarded as having the scholarly persuasiveness necessary and denied foreseeability on the part of the company’s former officers and others.

The inquest committee, made up of 11 members of the public, responded that “it is sufficient that there must be foreseeability given the fact that a tsunami occurred and some sort of response was required.”

The committee stressed that the three individuals accused had a duty to exercise a high degree of care to prevent accidents since they all held positions of responsibility, and that the maximum credible tsunami report “absolutely could not be ignored.”

‘A certain extent’

Nevertheless, a big hurdle must be cleared to prove criminal responsibility for negligence when accidents occur.

“Jurists and the general public look at foreseeability and the duty to exercise care differently,” one veteran judge noted. “Proving foreseeability could be difficult to prove on the basis of preliminary tsunami calculations.”

In the JR Fukuchiyama Line derailment accident in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture, three successive presidents of West Japan Railway Co. were subjected to mandatory indictment on a charge of corporate manslaughter.

The inquest committee for the case, which is currently under appeal, said, “Even in the most basic civic sense, stringent safety measures should obviously be taken as quickly as possible.”

Yet at the trial and the first appeal, the court ruled the three were not guilty as the three successive presidents could not have foreseen the accident.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster was caused by a natural phenomenon that would have been difficult to predict, making the charge even more of a challenge to prove.

“The purpose of criminal law is to pursue the responsibility of individuals,” said Tokai University Prof. Yoshihiko Ikeda, who specializes in criminal-negligence theory. “In terms of large-scale accidents related to disasters, senior management can be held responsible for negligence only to a certain extent.”

Choice of words

Now that a decision to indict has been made, the Tokyo District Court chose Friday three designated lawyers for the prosecution who will carry out supplementary investigations. The three accused might be subjected to mandatory indictment by the end of the year at the earliest.

All eyes are on what TEPCO’s former executives will say in court regarding the unprecedented accident.

Lawyer Motoharu Furukawa, a former prosecutor and author of books like “Fukushima gempatsu, sabakarenai de ii no ka” (Is it right to not take the Fukushima nuclear power plant to court?), published by Asahi Shimbun Publications Inc., says: “It’s of great importance that this be delved into publicly in court. It may even lead to a rethinking of nuclear power safety policy.”

Why did a major disaster that led to reactor meltdowns take place? Was there no way the accident could have been prevented?

Aside from the question of criminal responsibility, Katsumata and his associates need to present the full truth in court.

Doubts over system

The mandatory-indictment system was instituted in May 2009 so the “will of the people” would be reflected in judgments over whether or not to indict, judgments that hitherto had been the sole preserve of prosecutors.

While there is praise for the fact that, with this system in mind, prosecutors have become more cautious in deciding not to indict, a string of cases that used mandatory indictment have nevertheless ended in acquittals, exposing certain problems in the system.

First of all, the mandatory indictment system provides no opportunity for those under inquest to present their side of the story.

The Law for the Inquest of Prosecution makes it mandatory for a prosecutor to present the case prior to any decision to indict, but the accused forced into a public trial through a mandatory indictment has no opportunity to contest the charges beforehand.

“Would it not be a good idea to consider hearing the side of those under indictment, even if just to maintain the fairness of the inquest?” said Yasuyuki Takai, a lawyer who was involved in designing the system.

Then there’s the fact that the role of “inquest assistant,” which gives legal advice to the inquest committee, is limited to a single individual. A lawyer is appointed as inquest assistant, who responds to queries from the committee members.

Yukio Yamashita, a lawyer who has experience as an inquest assistant, pointed out that for a single individual “explaining legal arguments to the general public is difficult.”

“For a truly adequate inquest multiple assistants would be necessary,” Yamashita said.

Another problematic point is how the designated lawyer bears an excessive burden.

Proving guilt in a case where the prosecution has chosen not to indict is difficult — the maximum compensation paid to a designated lawyer for a single trial or appeal is ¥1.2 million.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations is said to be planning to submit an opinion calling for improvements to the mandatory-indictment system this year to the Supreme Court and the Justice Ministry.

The system must be revised if it is to live up to its original goal, it seems.

Source: Yomiuri

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Nuclear Gypsies: The Homeless, Jobless and Fukushima


They are called the “precariat,” Japan’s proletariat, living precariously on the knife-edge of the work world, without full employment or job security. They are derided as “glow in the dark boys,” “jumpers,” and “nuclear gypsies.” They have even been dubbed “burakumin,” a hostile term for Japan’s untouchables, members of the lowest rung on the ladder in Japanese society.

Homeless and unemployed or marginally employed day laborers, unskilled and virtually untrained, they are the nuclear decontamination workers recruited by Japanese gangsters, yakuza, to make Fukushima in northern Japan livable again after the 3/11 triune disaster – the Great Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami which precipitated the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant meltdown.

These workers have been recruited for one of the most dangerous and undesirable jobs in the industrialized world: working on the $35 billion, taxpayer-funded effort to clean up radioactive fallout across an area of northern Japan larger than Hong Kong. Reuters and the L.A. Times have both remarked that it is an unprecedented effort.

Reuters made a direct comparison between Fukushima and the Chernobyl “incident.” Unlike Ukraine and the 1986 nuclear “accident” at Chernobyl, where authorities declared a 1,000 square-mile no-habitation zone, resettled 350,000 people and decided to let radiation take care of itself, Japan is attempting to make the Fukushima region livable again.

The army of itinerant decontamination workers has been hired at well below the minimum wage to clean up the radioactive debris and build tanks to store the contaminated water generated to keep the reactor cores cool. They work in noisome unregulated environs, without adequate supervision, training or monitoring or the protection of health insurance.

Most of the workers are subcontractors, drifters, unskilled and poorly paid. In an article for Al Jazeera’s America Tonight, David McNeill, blogger about nuclear gypsies, commented: “They move from job to job. They’re unqualified, of course, in most cases.”

Jeff Kingston, Dept. of Asian Studies, Temple University Japan, noted in October 2014 that the numbers of these nuclear gypsies or members of the “precariat” -have been seen to have risen from 15 percent of the Japanese workforce in the late 1980s to 38 percent to date and the numbers are expected to continue to rise.

Jobless, or Just Homeless?

The laborers deputed to carry out this huge ambitious project, Japan’s nuclear gypsies, include both the homeless and those who can be said to be just one notch above homelessness – jobless people. These two classes are often nearly identical. It is perhaps more useful to identify the workers on the decontamination project as the working poor in dire economic straits.

Are these laborers truly homeless? What of a recent survey saying that homelessness has reached an all-time low? Al Jazeera noted in October 2014 that although a 2014 government survey had found that Tokyo’s homeless population had dropped drastically, critics dispute this finding, calling the survey another effort to ignore a population that is contending with growing economic disparity, and exploited for cheap labor.

Charles E. McJilton, CEO of the Food Bank Second Harvest Japan, disputes the numbers of the homeless in Japan. He believes that although actual numbers of the homeless in Tokyo may be down, these numbers fail to take into account the larger issue country-wide of poverty and economic insecurity. Al Jazeera reported him as saying, “It has always been a misunderstanding in the media that poverty in Japan is represented by the homeless.”

Tom Gill of Meiji Gakuin University suggests that the larger problem is the rapidly growing number of people in dire straits.

Many Japanese living on the edge apply for assistance under Japan’s livelihood protection law - seikatsu hogo - which guarantees a basic standard of living. Gill has said that the problem is the sharply increasing number of applications for the generous welfare benefit, and its worsening impact on the national debt, the largest in the developed world.

Well over 500,000 people in Japan have been reported to have lost their jobs since the “Lehman shokku,” the day in September 2008 when Lehman Bros. collapsed and triggered a worldwide financial crisis.

Half the people who lost their jobs were on temporary or part-time contracts that offered them no insurance. Thousands lived in company housing and when they lost their livelihoods, they lost their homes. Today they camp out under blue tarpaulins, sleeping in parks, under bridges, and in railway stations or in 24-hour Internet cafes.

The Christian Science Monitor noted that as of Sept. 2009, twenty million people, one-sixth of Japan’s population, lived below the poverty line. Seventy-seven percent of unemployed Japanese have no unemployment insurance, according to a report earlier in 2009 by the International Labor Organization as cited by the Monitor.

The Monitor also quoted Charles McJilton who once lived as a homeless person in Tokyo for 18 months. “When you fall out of the [workers’] safety net in Japan, you wouldn’t believe what is [no longer readily] available.” He is referring primarily to access to housing, but also to new jobs, food and medicine.

Even the jobless who do find new jobs cannot easily find a new home. The government made 13,000 housing units available to homeless people, and as of September 2009, had filled 7,666 of them. But that is not a lasting solution, argues McJilton. He says that the housing project may have cleared a lot of people off the streets but that “the government is more interested in keeping the peace than in solving the homeless problem.”

As these workers lose their jobs, with few chances of finding another one, younger men are ending up on the streets. The Monitor noted that of the 5,400 people who slept in Internet cafes in 2007, 41 percent were under 30. When they leave the shelters, they are supposed to start looking for work. Only half of them actually do so, however. The other half go back to the streets – often because they see no hope of finding a job.

One nuclear gypsy cited by Reuters in December 2013 summed up a near hopeless situation. “We’re an easy target for recruiters,” Shizuya Nishiyama, 57, says. He briefly worked at Fukushima clearing rubble. He now sleeps in a cardboard box in Sendai Station. “We’re easy to spot. They say to us, are you looking for work? Are you hungry? And if we haven’t eaten, they offer to find us a job.”

These men are sitting ducks, targets for wage slavery at the Fukushima nuclear decontamination project.

TEPCO, Yakuza and Subcontractors

Another nuclear gypsy was even more direct, eloquent and despairing. In its January 2014 report for Al Jazeera’s America Tonight, the laborer Tanaka was quoted as saying: “TEPCO is God. The main contractors are kings, and we are slaves.”

The January 2014 Al Jazeera report further reported that hiring for the cleanup operations is an effort in which the Japanese mafia, the yakuza, is deeply involved. Workers and onlookers who were interviewed said that it is the yakuza’s employment practices which further poison the system.

“The Yakuza have, historically, been deeply embedded in the structure of the construction industry,” explains Takeshi Katsura, a laborer who also helps workers exploited by the Japanese mafia. “It’s the structure that’s evil,” he said.

The subcontracting system and high demand for labor in Fukushima have been a boon for organized crime. “To quickly gather 4,000 to 5,000 decontamination workers in Fukushima, you need to do it the traditional way,” said Katsura. “Using the Yakuza.”

The decontamination industry is particularly appealing to the yakuza, because of the extra government-funded $100-a-day in danger pay per worker. But don’t assume that this pay actually gets to the workers!

Takeshi Katsura said: “Because workers are hired through subcontractors, wages are skimmed all along the way, and workers at the bottom actually doing the work sees their pay go down.” “For people in Japan who live like me and work various places, it’s hard to find work that pays $100 a day,” nuclear gypsy Tanaka said. “I get housing, and was able to save more than usual.”

But the promise does not deliver. “The government says it will pay $100 a day, but I initially got $20,” said Sato, another worker lured to Fukushima by the promise of extra cash. “The contractors and subcontractors took the remaining $80.”

In December 2013 a Reuters Special Report noted that only a third of the money allocated for wages made it to the workers. The rest was skimmed by middlemen, police reports say. After deductions for food and lodging, that left workers with an hourly rate of about $6, just below the minimum wage equal to about $6.50 per hour in Fukushima. Some of the homeless men ended up in debt after fees for food and housing were deducted, police say.

The report noted that the problem of paid workers running into debt is widespread. “Many homeless people are just put into dormitories, and the fees for lodging and food are automatically docked from their wages,” said a Baptist pastor and advocate for the homeless. “Then at the end of the month, they’re left with no pay at all.”

The base pay for decontamination work may in theory be higher than for other kinds of work. But the risks are also higher.

In a January 2014 Al Jazeera Special Report, nuclear gypsy Tanaka says he was shocked to find radioactive hot spots in the area he worked, marked with tape but never decontaminated. Training and protective gear were also scarce. “The training didn’t teach us the dangers of handling radiation, so there were some people who worked with their bare hands,” he said. “They would contaminate not only themselves, but would spread particles to others.

Tanaka was fired after his company’s contract wasn’t renewed. Like many nuclear workers approaching their radiation limit of 50 millisieverts a year, it is unlikely that Tanaka will ever be hired at Fukushima again. He’s since lost his apartment, and is crippled by fatigue.

When Sato, another nuclear gypsy, complained about the terms of his employment, he was told his contract had changed, and that he now owed money for food and lodging. Sato was lucky. Others who complain and quit like him have faced violent retribution.

“I’ve had workers tell me that they’ve been beat up and been told, ‘I’ll kill you,’” said Katsura. “Threatened with, ‘You know what will happen to you.’”

Radiation Exposure: Unclear Rulings, Erratic Enforcement

Mainichi Japan’s report in March 2015 on the decontamination project noted that about 28,000 people per day were hired to do decontamination work in 2014, according to the Ministry of the Environment and the Fukushima Prefectural Government. This year the figure has reached about 20,000. But their status regarding radiation exposure remains unclear.

It is also far from clear who is to take responsibility for management of radiation doses, one observer has reported.

In January 2012, an act came into force which gave decontamination workers the same radiation exposure limits as nuclear power plant workers (a maximum of 50 millisieverts per year and 100 millisieverts over five years). This act specified that employers must have their workers undergo special health checks, and they must record and preserve their radiation readings.

However, at the time the regulation came into effect, there was no centralized system for managing individual workers’ total radiation exposure.

Furthermore, sloppy implementation, a lack of oversight, and the very existence of a floating population of itinerants, nuclear gypsies, have made this regulation difficult or impossible to enforce.

In a Mainichi Japan article on March 12, 2015 one 45-year-old man who has visited seven decontamination sites since October 2012 comments, “In decontamination by cities, towns and villages, there are areas called “microspots” where radiation levels are high even in areas being decontaminated by municipal governments.

Another observer, a 58-year-old man who applied to take part in managing decontamination work has offered the following summary on the vast project: “Decontamination has produced a temporary economic bubble, and all sorts of businesses have got in on it.” But it is not all good. “I get looked at as if I’m doing something dirty, and I think I’ve had enough of it,” he said.

Injuries and Deaths on the Job: TEPCO’s Response

To the argument frequently posed that nobody has officially died at Fukushima, a January 2015 report of rising numbers of onsite accidents and deaths, many of which have been attributed to poor onsite oversight or management, may offer a response.

Data released by TEPCO and reported in Mainichi Japan in March 2015 showed that the number of accidents and cases of heat stroke involving Fukushima workers had doubled to 64 in 2014

The pattern is very Japanese. Incident, charges, apology or faux explanation, inaction, another incident. More apologies. No change in hiring, pay, working conditions.

A cosmetic change – opening a workers’ canteen.

ENENEWS reported on January 20, 2015 on injuries and fatalities. The number of incidents doubled this year. “It’s not just the number of accidents that has been on the rise. It’s the serious cases, including deaths and serious injuries that have risen…” said Katsuyoshi Ito, a local labor inspector overlooking the Fukushima power plant.

ENENEWS reported that the number of injured workers has soared at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant [and] far exceeded the 2013 figure by November 2014, [TEPCO] officials said… Thirty-nine workers were injured at the plant between April and November 2014, while one became ill.

  Last Sept. 22, a worker from a partner compan suffered a broken back after being hit by a falling iron pipe. During work to build a tank on Nov. 7, three workers were injured by falling steel weighing 390 kg. One was left temporarily unconscious, while another broke both ankles. Labor inspectors recently warned [TEPCO] about the rise in accidents and ordered it to take measures to deal with the problem.

Akira Ono, the head manager of the Fukushima Daiichi plant said: “We are deeply sorry for the death of the worker and express our deepest condolences to the family. We promise to implement measures to ensure that such a tragedy does not occur again.”

Fukushima Diary reported on a new fatality. On August 3, 2015 TEPCO reported that another Fukushima worker had died 2 days before. Although TEPCO states the cause of death is not identified, a former Fukushima worker posted on Twitter that the worker died of heatstroke.

It is speculated that TEPCO withheld the announcement of the death so as not to cause a scandal before removing debris from the fuel handling machine from 3 (Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 3).

TEPCO’S Response to Labor Complaints: On June 24, 2015, a few months after the dispute with the labor inspectors and a full four years after the three part disaster 3/11, Reuters reported that TEPCO has opened a rest area and canteen for cleanup workers, which will serve up to 3,000 meals a day and provide rest space for around 1,200 workers.

According to Reuters, TEPCO has been widely criticized for its treatment of workers and handling of the cleanup, which is expected to take decades. TEPCO has repeatedly promised to improve conditions for workers. Almost 7,000 workers, provided by around 800 mostly small contractors, are involved in decontaminating and decommissioning the plant.

Decontamination Project: Future Plans

Depending on whom you talk to, decontamination has either been very successful or a complete failure. The business is estimated to take at least another 40 years, so there will be no lack of job opportunities. Areas said to be decontaminated still register very high levels of radiation.

However, the project has not met with local approval. Most Fukushima folk displaced by the nuclear accident have said they do not believe the government’s assurances of safety and they are unwilling to return home.

In a July 21 2014 press release, a Greenpeace Japan investigation revealed that “Radioactive contamination in the forests and land of Imitate district in Fukushima prefecture is so widespread and at such a high level that it will be impossible for people to safely return to their homes.”

The press release noted that these findings follow the Abe Government’s announcement on 12th June 2015 to lift evacuation orders by March 2017 and terminate compensation by 2018, which effectively forces victims back into heavily contaminated areas.

Jan Vande Putte, radiation specialist with Greenpeace Belgium: “The Japanese government has condemned the people of Litate village to live in an environment that poses an unacceptable risk to their health. Stripping nuclear victims of their already inadequate compensation, which may force them to have to return to unsafe, highly radioactive areas for financial reasons, amounts to economic coercion. Let’s be clear: this is a political decision by the Abe Government, not one based on science, data, or public health,” he said.

Decontamination: Greenpeace’s Summary

It is possible that the people of Fukushima took note of Greenpeace’s July 21 2015 report. In July 2015, the administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe appeared to be taking a big step toward the goal of repatriating Fukushima evacuees by adopting a plan that would permit two-thirds of evacuees to return by March 2017, the sixth anniversary of the disaster.

But while some evacuees have cheered this chance to return, many more have rejected it. In fact, polls show a majority do not even want to go back.

In a telling move in a country where litigation is relatively rare, more than 10,000 have joined some 20 class-action lawsuits to demand more compensation so they can afford to choose for themselves whether to return.

The Abe government’s new timetable, adopted on June 12, calls for accelerating the pace of this cleanup with a “concentrated decontamination effort” over the next two years.

In Litate, the narrow valleys are filled with workers scraping off the top two inches of soil, which is then put into black bags that are stacked into man-made hills. Across the entire evacuation zone, workers have already filled 2.9 million bags, which will be stored for at least the next 30 years at toxic waste sites that the government is building inside the zone.

But even with the massive cleanup, only about one-fifth of the 6,200 displaced residents of Litate are willing to return, according to a recent head count by village officials.

To summarize the future of Japan’s nuclear decontamination program, perhaps the best commentary also comes from Greenpeace.

“Decontamination efforts are, many times, missing the government’s targets. Massive amounts of highly radioactive water flow into the ocean from the reactor site every day. The location of molten reactor cores in Units 1-3 remains unknown – which is a problem that requires massive amounts of cooling water every day to minimize the risk of another major radiation release.”

“Those who created the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe know that their nuclear power plants have no place in a modern Japan. And they are fighting as hard as they can to stop clean energy progress and shore up their dirty-energy-based profits.”

“But, for the people of Japan, a majority of whom oppose any nuclear restart, there are massive opportunities on the horizon for a truly safe and clean future. And we, at Greenpeace, will stand with them – against the onslaught of the nuclear village – to ensure that the clean, renewable energy future becomes a reality.”

Source: International Policy Digest

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Sendai nuclear plant halts output increase

The operator of Japan’s only activated nuclear power plant says it will delay ramping up power output due to reactor equipment trouble.

Kyushu Electric Power Company says an alarm went off on Thursday afternoon indicating trouble with a condenser at the No. 1 reactor of the Sendai power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture. The condenser turns steam from the power turbine back into water. Neither the steam nor the water is radioactive.

The utility says water in one of the reactor’s 3 condensers had higher than normal salt concentrations.

Kyushu Electric officials say a small amount of seawater that is used for cooling steam appears to have entered the condenser, possibly through holes in the intake pipes.
They say the salt is being removed while one system within the condenser is halted for inspections. A condenser has 2 systems.

Kyushu Electric says the other condensers are working normally, and that power generation and transmission will continue.

The utility was due to raise power output from 75 percent to 95 percent on Friday, before achieving full capacity on August 25th. It now expects a delay of about one week.

The operator restarted the reactor on August 11th at the Sendai nuclear power plant.

It was the first reactor to go back online under new regulations introduced after the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. 

Source: NHK

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

23,900 Bq/Kg of Cs-134/137 still measured from fish in Fukushima plant port


Still extremely high level of Cesium-134/137 is detected from fish of Fukushima plant port from Tepco’s report released on 8/18/2015.

Cs-134/137 density was 23,900 Bq/Kg, which is 239 times much as the food safety limit.

The sample was the muscle part of Sebastes cheni collected on 7/28/2015.

Sr-90 density and other nuclides’ analysis data are not reported.

Source: Fukushima Daiichi

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco Restructures, Subdividing Non-Nuclear Concerns

Tokyo Electric Power Company in Japan said it was restructuring the company, creating three businesses that continue with its 2014 separation of its nuclear businesses from its non-nuclear concerns.

As from 1 April 2016, Tepco said, the company will spin off its fuel and thermal power generation business into a company called TEPCO Fuel and Power, Incorporated. Its distribution and transmission business will become TEPCO Power Grid Incorporated. Its retail electricity business will be spun off as TEPCO Energy Partner Incorporated.

Tepco said it was making the major structural changes to survive in the post-Fukushima Daiichi reality. The new brand “signifies [the company’s] … determination to survive in the midst of competition while fulfilling its responsibilities for the Fukushima nuclear accident,” the company said.

“Japan’s electricity market is entering a period of dramatic change. Full liberalization of the electricity retail market is scheduled for April 2016, and the law requires separation of electricity transmission and distribution functions from the retail business in 2020.

“The changes in TEPCO’s company structure anticipate these changes and prepare it to succeed in the new, competitive environment, while serving its customers with a stable supply of electricity and full retention of its responsibilities not only for Fukushima but also for safety and reliability throughout its business,” the company said in a statement.

The company has already been effectively nationalized in the post-Fukushima era. The company’s 10-year plan allowed the government 51 percent of the company in exchange for $8 billion in government funding. Last year, in 2014, it restructured to form a separate division that would focus on decommissioning at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant where three reactors suffered meltdowns after a tsunami event that followed the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

Source: Nuclear Street

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

First peacetime deaths from nuclear weapons

The Strange Story of the First People to Die From Nuclear Weapons During Peacetime, TIME, Lily Rothman @lilyrothman   Seventy years ago, a young physicist made a tragic mistake

The first wartime deaths from nuclear weaponry were vast in number and world-changing in scope. The first peacetime deaths from that same technology were far quieter incidents, free of violence but still illustrative of the awful power of the bomb………

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

Taipei prosecutors lose legal case against anti nuclear protestors

Prosecutors lose case on anti-nuclear protesters, Taipei Times, 18 Aug 15 By Chang Wen-chuan and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer National Taiwan University student Hung Chung-yen (洪崇晏) and Alliance of Referendum for Taiwan convener Tsay Ting-kuei (蔡丁貴) were yesterday found not guilty on charges linked to their involvement in anti-nuclear protests in Taipei in April last year.

Prosecutors had charged Hung and Tsay with violating the Parade and Assembly Act (集會遊行法) for allegedly urging participants in the April 27 anti-nuclear protest to deviate from the route that organizers had laid out in their application for a demonstration permit and ignoring orders from Zhongxiao E Road police office chief Tsui Chi-ying (崔企英) to disband the crowd.

Some of the protesters removed the center road blocks along a section of Zhongxiao W Road in front of Taipei Railway Station and occupied both sides of the road, paralyzing traffic in the area……..

August 23, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, Taiwan | Leave a comment

UK government trashing environmnental policies, promoting nuclear power and fracked gas

Rudd, Amber UK[The new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd,] will try to meet the UK’s carbon reduction commitments with nuclear power and fracked gas.

(Of course, this is the same Amber Rudd who said that if nuclear reactors were just prettier, everyone would like them. ed.)

commentators from industry, politics and the financial sector have been lining up to condemn the Government’s plans to subsidize the first new reactors proposed at Hinkley.

What is happening in the UK? The new government makes a sharp move away from clean energy in favor of costly polluting sources. Greenworld, 14 Aug 15 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 no, the news really is not good.

David Cameron’s Conservative Government has now been in power in the UK, without the constraining influence of the Liberal Democrats, for 100 days. From the point-of-view of the environment his new government has been an unmitigated disaster; marked by a sharp embrace of dirty energy sources in a fashion most advanced nations, even including the U.S., are stepping away from.

From the moment the new Government was elected it set about burning the green policies of the previous coalition government. Subsidies for new onshore wind farms, paid for through consumers’ bills, are to end from April next year as are subsidies for solar farms. There will be a review of the feed-in tariff threatening subsidies for solar panels on domestic and commercial roof tops. And other proposed changes will make it much harder for community renewable projects to obtain finance.

The Government has also killed off the Green Deal scheme which provided loans to households for energy efficiency improvements. The scheme was a damp squib but what’s striking is there are no proposals to replace it. And a decade-long plan to force all new homes to be ‘zero carbon’ from 2016 has been dumped. On top of all this the exemption for renewables from the Climate Change Levy–a kind of carbon tax–has been removed, effectively imposing cuts to the income of renewable projects already up and running retrospectively.

The new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Amber Rudd, told Members of Parliament (MPs) that carbon reduction targets are a bigger priority than meeting renewable energy targets, signalling that she is prepared to miss the UK’s European Union Renewable Target of meeting 15% of our energy needs (not just electricity) from renewable sources by 2020. Continue reading

August 23, 2015 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Nuclear plant Vogtle – another cost increase approved – now up to $2.97 billion

nukes-hungryGeorgia energy regulators approve 12th Plant Vogtle construction update

Aug 18, 2015, The Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) signed off Tuesday on the latest update from Georgia Power Co. on construction at the nuclear expansion at Plant Vogtle.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve $169 million the utility reported spending on the project during the last half of last year. That brings Georgia Power’s cumulative construction and capital costs to date to $2.97 billion.

In approving the 12th semi-annual update Georgia Power has submitted to the PSC since the construction of two additional nuclear reactors at the plant south of Augusta, Ga., was authorized in 2009, the commission rejected requests from environmental and consumer advocacy groups concerned that a 39-month delay in the project’s scheduled completion is driving up customer costs.

Commissioner Stan Wise argued Atlanta-based Georgia Watch’s request that the PSC consider the costs of achieving the same additional electric generating capacity with wind and solar projects as an alternative to nuclear expansion was inappropriate.

“It’s not going to change anything we do at Vogtle,” he said. “Wind and solar are going to run their own course, like any product does.”

The commission voted in 2013 to postpone consideration of who should pay for cost overruns at Plant Vogtle – Georgia Power’s shareholders or its customers – until after the first of the two new nuclear reactors goes into service. Under a revised timetable Georgia Power submitted last winter, that won’t come until 2019.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

South Carolina court blasts state’s environmental protection agency over poor oversight of leaking nuclear waste dump

 Court blasts DHEC for failures at nuclear waste dump  BY SAMMY FRETWELL, 17 Aug 15  COLUMBIA, SC 

For the second year in a row, the S.C. Court of Appeals has ripped the state’s environmental protection agency for failing to properly oversee a leak-prone nuclear waste dump in Barnwell County.

But this time, the appeals court isn’t telling regulators when to resolve problems at the 44-year-old site.

In an Aug. 12 ruling that disappointed landfill critics, the court backed away from requiring a specific timetable to improve conditions at Chem-Nuclear’s dump near the Savannah River.

Last year, the appeals court ordered the Department of Health and Environmental Control and site operator Chem-Nuclear to develop a written plan for correcting problems within 90 days. Both then appealed for a rehearing, which delayed the 90-day requirement and ultimately resulted in last week’s decision.

Sierra Club lawyer Bob Guild said this year’s decision leaves DHEC — the agency that has failed to properly manage the site — the discretion to react to the court ruling at its own leisure.

“We have an agency that has been lawless for years in not enforcing its own regulations, and now, the court is giving it another open-ended opportunity to review itself,’’ Guild said. “That is unfortunate. We are going to monitor this very carefully.’

Guild’s group filed suit 10 years ago in an attempt to force tougher disposal practices at the unlined landfill, where radioactive tritium leaks first were detected in the 1970s. A plume of tritium extends downhill from the site and has for years trickled into a creek that flows toward the nearby Savannah River.

Sierra Club officials say DHEC has been lax in making Chem-Nuclear follow rules at the disposal site through the years.

The appeals court acknowledged problems, saying that DHEC “failed to enforce the law of South Carolina’’ in monitoring the 235-acre landfill outside the town of Snelling.

The court said DHEC, as the agency overseeing Chem-Nuclear’s activities, did not enforce a handful of specific regulations established to protect the environment. It also said Chem-Nuclear had failed to follow some of the rules on nuclear waste disposal. Except for the timetable, the court’s decision last week was similar to last year’s ruling that took DHEC and Chem-Nuclear to task.

“It is important that DHEC enforce its own regulations and require Chem-Nuclear to take action to comply with the technical requirements,’’ the ruling said in sending the matter back to DHEC for consideration……….

An array of critics, however, say tritium is still toxic and often is a forerunner of other, more dangerous pollutants that will one day wash into groundwater. Leaks were discovered within a decade of the Barnwell County site’s opening in 1971, despite initial assurances from state regulators.

The disposal site once took low-level nuclear waste from atomic power plants, hospitals and other places from across the country. Today, the landfill is open only to South Carolina, Connecticut and New Jersey, and waste volumes have dropped sharply. But the Sierra Club has pressed ahead with its 2005 lawsuit, saying better disposal practices will prevent tritium leaks from getting any worse.

One of the major concerns centers on rain that falls into open burial trenches. Environmentalists for years have pushed the state to require the placement of tents or roofs atop the burial trenches. That would cut down on the amount of rain that pours in, picks up radioactive pollutants from the waste and leaks through the bottom of the landfill and into groundwater, they say.

The court said Chem-Nuclear had done nothing to keep rain out of the burial pits, even though a state regulation says it is supposed to minimize movement of water in the pits. And the court said DHEC had not forced the company to comply with the rule intended to keep rain out of the pits — or acted to prevent rain from leaking through the bottom and into groundwater………

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan’s highly dangerous plutonium stockpile

Japan’s plutonium stockpile worries Oxford specialist, Global Post, Xinhua News Agency Aug 17, 2015  NEW YORK, — The handling of Japan’s huge plutonium stockpile remains a challenge for the whole world, an Oxford environmental expert has warned.

When Japan marked the 70th anniversary of Nagasaki’s obliteration by a plutonium bomb on Aug. 9, its own cache of weapons-usable plutonium was more than 47 metric tons, enough to make nearly 6,000 warheads like the one that flattened the Japanese city, Dr. Peter Wynn Kirby of University of Oxford wrote in an op-ed on Monday’s New York Times……..

Japan’s 48 standard reactors burn uranium fuel, a process that yields plutonium, a highly radioactive and extremely toxic substance.

Although these reactors were shut down after the Fukushima tragedy, Japan still stores nearly 11 tons of plutonium on its territory, with the rest in Britain and France. Stockpiling plutonium in Japan remains hazardous given seismic instability in the country and the risk of theft by terrorists, warned Kirby…..

As a byproduct of burning uranium, plutonium itself can be processed in so-called fast-breeder reactors to produce more energy. That step also yields more plutonium, and so in theory this production chain is self-sustaining — a kind of virtuous nuclear-energy cycle, noted Kirby.

“In practice, however, fast-breeder technology has been extremely difficult to implement. It is notoriously faulty and astronomically expensive, and it creates more hazardous waste,” wrote Kirby.

Many other countries that experimented with fast-breeder reactors, including the United States, had phased them out by the 1990s. But Japan continued to invest heavily in the technology, noted Kirby.

While Japan’s record with nuclear waste is abysmal, no other country has found a safe or economically sustainable way to reuse such substances, especially not plutonium, he noted. Given Japan’s many vulnerabilities, particularly seismic activity, nuclear waste should no longer be stored in the country, he argued. “The Japanese government should pay its closest allies to take its plutonium away, permanently.”

Britain and France respectively holds 20 tons and 16 tons of Japan’s plutonium under contracts to reprocess it into usable fuel. Under current arrangements, this fuel, plus all byproducts, including plutonium, are to be sent back to Japan by 2020.

“Japan should pay, and generously, for that plutonium to stay where it is, in secure interim storage. And it should help fund the construction of secure permanent storage in Britain and France,” he said.

The Japanese government should also pay the United States to remove the nearly 11 tons of plutonium currently in Japan, he argued.

“Handling Japan’s plutonium would be a great burden for receiver countries, and Japan should pay heftily for the service. But even then the expense would likely amount to a fraction of what Japan spends on its ineffectual plutonium-energy infrastructure,” wrote the specialist.

Making Japan free of plutonium stockpile, thus preventing nuclear catastrophe as a result of earthquakes, would be in the whole world’s interest, he concluded.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | - plutonium, Japan | Leave a comment

Swutzerland’s Beznau plants to be focus of legal action against nuclear inspectorate

Nuclear critics threaten legal action over Beznau plant, SWI 20 Aug 15  A group of Swiss residents and environmental organisations are threatening to file a legal complaint against the federal nuclear inspectorate, urging it to close the aging Beznau nuclear power station. They say the plant cannot resist a powerful earthquake.On Thursday a dozen residents, Greenpeace, the Tri-national Association of Nuclear Protection (ATPN) and the Swiss Energy Foundation (SES) said they had uncovered this serious safety flaw at the two Beznau plants (commissioned in 1969 and 1972).

After the disaster at Fukushima, Japan, in March 2011, the government demanded Axpo, the Beznau plant operator, and other nuclear companies to step up their safety margins to make sure they were adequately flood and earthquake-proof. ………

Four of the country’s five reactors are temporarily offline for different reasons. Since August 14 block 2 at the nuclear power plant Beznau in canton Aargau has been offline. It will be out of service for four months while maintenance is carried out. Among the planned tasks is the replacement of the reactor pressure vessel cover. Block 1 at the plant has been out of service since March due to irregularities in the pressure vessel. Weak spots were found in the 15cm steel covering of the vessel.

Nuclear power plants in Leibstadt and Mühleberg are also currently not producing any energy due to annual maintenance service.

After the Fukushima disaster, the Swiss government decided to decommission all five of Switzerland’s nuclear power plants, starting in 2019 and ending by 2034. However, no exact dates were given for the individual reactors to be shut down.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | Legal, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Most churches support the Iran nuclear deal

American Churches and the Iran Nuclear Deal, Weekly Standard, AUG 20, 2015 • BY MARK TOOLEY Most church groups and prominent religious voices speaking to the Iran nuclear deal are supportive. Most notable among them is the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. n April, Bishop Oscar Cantú of Las Cruces, who leads the U.S. Catholic bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, wrote members of Congress to hail the accord as an “important step in advancing a peaceful resolution.” He quoted Pope Francis, who prayed that, “the framework…may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world.”………

In July, Bishop Cantú again wrote Congress to commend the “remarkable step with Iran in reaching this agreement” and urging Congress to “support these efforts to build bridges that foster peace and greater understanding.”

Liberal Evangelical activist Jim Wallis of Sojourners similarly hailed the accord for pursuing options that will “prevent further war with more dangerous weapons,” which is the “right course of action in a highly imperfect world.” He warned that “those who oppose deals like this often proclaim a binary world of simple good and evil, which we don’t have — and believing so is a dangerous illusion.”………

August 23, 2015 Posted by | politics international, Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Savannah River Site’s MOX project needs $800 million a year

Review: MOX needs $800M a year

Aug 20 2015  A highly-anticipated review of the Savannah River Site’s MOX project states that funding for the project will require up to $800 million a year if MOX is to be successful.

Earlier this year, the Department of Energy commissioned the Red Team, a group led by Thom Mason, the director of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, to evaluate cost projections and alternatives to the MOX method of plutonium disposition. The method includes the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility under construction at SRS.

The project is part of a nonproliferation agreement with Russia to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium.

 The review, dated Aug. 13, was delivered to DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz on Monday and states that the current $400 million  funding level for MOX is inadequate.

“The Red Team concluded that if the MOX pathway is to be successful, then annual funding for the whole program would have to increase from the current $400 million per year to $700 to 800 million per year over the next 2-3 years, and then remain at $700 to $800 million until all 34 metric tons are dispositioned,” officials wrote.

The Aiken Standard will have more on the MOX review in Friday’s paper.

August 23, 2015 Posted by | reprocessing, USA | Leave a comment