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WTO delays panel decision on ROK

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — The World Trade Organization has put off a decision on whether to set up a dispute settlement panel on South Korea’s import ban on Japanese fishery products, the Fisheries Agency said Monday.

At a meeting Monday, the WTO stopped short of making a decision as South Korea did not agree to the establishment of the panel. But the WTO is expected to approve the setting up of the panel as requested by Japan at its next meeting, on Sept. 28.

South Korea introduced the ban on some fishery products from eight prefectures, including Fukushima, in the wake of the reactor meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Source: Japan News

http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002393276

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September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan, South Korea | , , | Leave a comment

Miyagi residents physically block officials from surveying proposed nuke waste dump sites

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SENDAI – Residents of three Miyagi Prefecture towns selected as candidate sites for hosting a permanent nuclear waste disposal facility barred the entry Monday of Environment Ministry officials seeking to carry out survey work.

People in the towns of Kami, Kurihara and Taiwa stalled the officials’ plan to conduct geological surveys needed to determine which of the three locations would be best to host the site, which will permanently store radioactive waste that spewed from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant following the March 11, 2011, Great East Japan Earthquake.

In the Tashirodake area of Kami on Monday morning, some 350 residents turned out in a light rain to protest the visit, holding banners and signs and yelling “Protect children’s future!” and “Get lost!”

They also physically blocked the officials’ access to the areas.

An Environment Ministry official meanwhile said the ministry will consider holding a town meeting in Kami in line with a request by the municipal government.

Plans to start ground surveys in the towns have been stalled since October, when the Environment Ministry began visiting them.

Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai criticized the residents’ demonstrations, saying they should wage their battle against the nuclear dump site in the courts.

“They should open the land for a government survey without hesitating,” Murai said. “If they disagree with the government plan, they should go to court.”

Post-3/11 nuclear waste is being temporarily stored on farms around the prefecture and farmers hosting the waste are demanding the government build a proper storage site.

Source: Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/01/national/residents-proposed-miyagi-nuke-waste-dump-venues-block-environment-ministry-officials-survey/#.VeZJeJeFSM9

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

No disaster prevention scheme worked out for 17 nuclear facilities

No work has been done to establish a disaster prevention scheme for 17 nuclear facilities despite the fact the central government laid out its policy nearly three years ago to review the country’s nuclear disaster prevention structure in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.

The 17 nuclear facilities consist of nuclear fuel processing and reprocessing and experimental and research facilities across the country that are subject to the Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness. No discussion has been held on disaster prevention schemes for such facilities. Some of them are located in urban areas, but local governments hosting such facilities have been urging the central government to review the country’s nuclear disaster prevention scheme as local governments are unable to reflect such a scheme in their disaster prevention plans including those for the evacuation of local residents.

The Power and Industrial Systems Research and Development Center, a nuclear research arm of Toshiba Corp., is one of the 17 facilities. Its premises are situated side by side with Nippon Steel & Sumikin Pipe Co.’s steel plant in Kawasaki where a fire broke out on Aug. 24. The nuclear facility is located about 300 meters from the fire site. Toshiba said, “It was not affected by the fire.” It went on to say, “The research facility is a basic facility for development of nuclear technology and it is a reactor with a maximum output of 200 watts which is extremely low.”

Haneda Airport is about 1 kilometer from the facility on the other side of the Tama River. But Toshiba said, “We assess that the assumed annual radiation dose in the event of a fire or an airplane crash is 1 millisievert (the maximum permissible level of annual radiation exposure for an ordinary person) or lower.”

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) provisionally designated disaster prevention priority areas for the 17 facilities at zones within a radius of between 50 meters and 10 kilometers from the facilities, depending on their scale and type — the same as those set before the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Meanwhile, the guidelines for countermeasures against nuclear disasters formulated in October 2012 under the Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness expand the disaster prevention priority areas for nuclear power plants to about nine times as large as those set before the Fukushima disaster. But the guidelines say that the disaster prevention priority areas for the 17 nuclear facilities will be discussed with an eye toward reviewing them and be reflected in the guidelines. The guidelines also say that criteria for designating evacuation areas and methods are “issues to be discussed in the future.”

According to the NRA’s Secretariat, however, no specific discussion on such issues has been made. An official of the secretariat said, “The NRA has been taking time to sort things out because the facilities vary in type and size from one another.”

The disaster prevention priority area for Toshiba’s research facility is set at a radius of 100 meters which falls within its premises. But in 2013, the Kawasaki Municipal Government added “release of radioactive materials outside of the facility” to the list of assumed conditions set in its disaster prevention plan. But no decision has been made on specific areas and methods of evacuation. A municipal government official said, “Because the central government has not shown its criteria, we are watching the progress.”

About 4,000 people live in a provisional disaster prevention priority area for a nuclear fuel processing facility in the Kanagawa Prefecture city of Yokosuka, but the Kanagawa Prefectural Government has not been able to revise its disaster prevention plan. The Kanagawa Prefectural Government has been requesting the central government in writing every year since 2012 to review the guidelines.

There are three nuclear facilities including a university research unit and a nuclear processing facility in Osaka Prefecture, and they are located close to residential areas. The governments of Osaka, Aomori, Ibaraki and Okayama prefectures have been urging the central government in writing and verbally to review the guidelines.

Hirotada Hirose, professor emeritus at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University, said, “As long as the facilities are dealing with nuclear materials even though they are relatively small, a nuclear disaster could occur. The NRA should review the countermeasures that are ambiguous at present as soon as possible after properly assessing the risks.”

Source: Mainichi

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150901p2a00m0na015000c.html

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Ex-Fukushima No. 1 worker sues Tepco over cancer

SAPPORO – A former worker at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant has filed a damages suit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. and others, claiming that he developed cancer due to exposure to radiation after the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

His lawyers said Tuesday the suit, filed in the Sapporo District Court, is the first litigation on causal relations between cancer and work to deal with the crisis.

The 57-year-old man is seeking a total of ¥65 million in damages from Tepco, contractor Taisei Corp. and its subcontractor.

According to his complaint, cancer was detected in his bladder in June 2012, in his stomach in March 2013 and in his sigmoid colon in May 2013 after he worked as a heavy equipment operator at Fukushima No. 1 between July and October 2011.

In August 2013, the man filed for workers accident compensation with the Tomioka Labor Standard Inspection Office in Fukushima Prefecture.

After the application was rejected in January this year, he requested that the Fukushima Prefectural Labor Bureau review the decision.

Records show that the man received a total of 56.41 millisieverts during his work at the power plant, but he claims to have been subjected to more than 100 millisieverts and says he sometimes worked without a dosimeter.

The government uses the 100-millisievert threshold to consider whether cancer has a causal link with radioactive exposure.

Tepco said it will respond sincerely after examining the lawsuit.

Source: Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/01/national/ex-fukushima-no-1-worker-sues-tepco-cancer/#.VeYvPZeFSM-

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

How nuclear-free Japan made it through hottest summer yet without brownouts

TOKYO — The nation’s nuclear power generators having been shut down since 2011. Summer temperatures, with their commensurate power demand, have been climbing. Yet warnings at the time of the nuclear plant shutdowns, to the effect that the aging thermal generators would not be able to meet peak demands, have not come to pass.

What’s made it possible to keep the juice flowing? J-Cast News (Aug 27) reports that one factor has been the growing use of solar power, which when demand is highest during daylight hours has been pitching in to keep the air conditioners chugging along.

During two straight weeks of sunny weather, and particularly from July 31 to August 7—during a record-breaking string of eight consecutive “moshobi,” during which daytime peak temperatures in Tokyo surpassed 35 degrees Celsius—the power suppliers came through with flying colors. According to Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), a new record of 29.57 million kilowatts of power demand was set at 1 p.m. on August 7. Fortunately even without nuclear power, use of outside suppliers to supplement TEPCO’s power generated in-house meant that usage by its own thermal plants reached 92% of capacity, leaving it with a surplus of 8%.

From the beginning of August, a source within the power industry revealed that “as we’re getting lots of solar power from noontime, there’s no problem, even without the nuclear reactors. They’re supplying enough that we can even hold back on the thermal generator output.”

What’s so remarkable was that in addition to the 23.84 million kilowatts being produced by TEPCO’s own generators, 9.91 million kilowatts, or about 20% of the total, were supplied by outside companies, which TEPCO has contracted to buy at fixed prices. A good portion of these are sourced from solar or wind power.

As of the end of June this year, some 7.9 million kilowatts of solar and other forms of renewable energy are serving TEPCO’s network, which on sunny days are calculated to be capable of supplying the amount of power provided by the nuclear plants. About half of the 9.91 million kilowatts provided by the outside suppliers is said to be sourced from solar power.

The situation is similar in other regional power utilities. On Aug 4 at 4 p.m., the time of highest power demand in Kansai reached 25.57 million kilowatts. Of Kansai Electric Power Co’s 27.81 million kilowatts maximum capacity, 6.34 million kilowatts are supplied to KEPCO by outside firms, again about half of which is solar energy.

The day of highest demand for Kyushu Electric Power Co, Aug 6 at 4 p.m., was 15 million kilowatts. Its peak capability is 17.21 million kilowatts, of which 4.70 million are sourced from outside suppliers—nearly as much as the 5.17 million the island’s five nuclear generators used to produce.

The J-Cast News reporter reminds readers that once night falls, solar power generation naturally drops to zero, and that output also declines on cloudy days. But fortunately the kind of hot, sunny afternoons when power demand is at its highest, coincide with the time when solar power generation is at its most efficient. What’s more, buying power from these suppliers lowers the burden on the power utilities’ thermal reactors and helps reduce energy consumption, so it’s not a bad thing at all. That said, solar is not a perfect solution, since demand for air conditioning on some days does not taper off quickly with the coming of darkness. Still, its contribution to the power grid during this past month has turned out to be an unexpected and pleasant surprise.

Source: Japan Today

http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/how-nuclear-free-japan-made-it-through-hottest-summer-yet-without-brownouts

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

“New case of thyroid cancer diagnosed in Fukushima; brings number to 104

sept 1 2015

FUKUSHIMA–An investigation into health problems triggered by the 2011 nuclear disaster here turned up a new case of thyroid cancer in a young person who lived near the stricken plant.

The latest diagnosis brings to 104 the number of people out of the 385,000 or so Fukushima Prefecture residents who were 18 years old or younger at the time of the accident that are confirmed to have thyroid cancer, prefectural authorities said Aug. 31.

However, the prefectural government committee investigating the issue of health problems said that “as of now, it is unlikely for the thyroid cancers found in Fukushima Prefecture to have been caused by the nuclear power plant accident.”

The latest check was conducted between April and the end of June.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201509010056

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Report Dangerously Downplays Ongoing Health Risks: Greenpeace

“The IAEA report actively supports the Abe government’s and the global nuclear industry’s agenda to make it appear that things can return to normal after a nuclear disaster.”

iaea_2 feb 2015 wte purification system

A new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) “downplays” the continuing environmental and health effects of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown while supporting the Japanese government’s agenda to normalize the ongoing disaster, Greenpeace Japan charged on Tuesday.

The Vienna-based IAEA released its final report Monday on the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. While the agency pointed to numerous failings, including unclear responsibilities among regulators, weaknesses in plant design and in disaster-preparedness, and a “widespread assumption” of safety, it was more circumspect with regard to health concerns.

The Fukushima disaster released vast amounts of radiation, leading to fears that cases of thyroid cancer in children would soar as they did following the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

The 200-page report sought to assuage those worries, stating: “Because the reported thyroid doses attributable to the accident were generally low, an increase in childhood thyroid cancer attributable to the accident is unlikely.”

That assertion wasn’t bulletproof, however. The report added: “[U]ncertainties remained concerning the thyroid equivalent doses incurred by children immediately after the accident.”

In a press statement, Greenpeace Japan seized on the information gap.

“The IAEA concludes that no discernible health consequences are expected as a result of the Fukushima disaster, but admits important uncertainties in both radiation dose and long-term effects,” said Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner with Greenpeace Japan. “Nobody knows how much radiation citizens were exposed to in the immediate days following the disaster. If you don’t know the doses, then you can’t conclude there won’t be any consequences. To say otherwise is political rhetoric, not science.”

The IAEA report conveniently comes as pro-nuclear Prime Minister Shinzo Abe systematically seeks to lift evacuation orders and re-start the country’s nuclear program.

“The IAEA report actively supports the Abe government’s and the global nuclear industry’s agenda to make it appear that things can return to normal after a nuclear disaster,” Ulrich said. “But there is nothing normal about the lifestyle and exposure rates that the victims are being asked to return to.”

In July, Greenpeace Japan charged that the IAEA “has sought to downplay the radiological risks to the population since the early days in 2011. In fact, it produced two documents that can be said to have laid the foundation and justification for Abe’s current policy of de facto forced resettlement.”

Exploring the political dynamics further, Ulrich wrote at the time:

Over four years after the triple reactor core meltdowns and exploded containment buildings at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the majority of the Japanese public has remained opposed to any nuclear restart. The country has been completely nuclear-free for nearly two years, thanks in large part to significant public opposition, in spite of the massive pressure from nuclear utilities and the Abe government on local city governments.

However, these utilities are massively powerful and the Abe government is wholly in bed with them.

In an effort to reduce public opposition, Abe has been pushing forward the pro-nuclear agenda to ‘normalize’ a nuclear disaster. If the public can be convinced that less than five years after the worst nuclear disaster in a generation, citizens can go home and return to life the way it was before the disaster – with no additional health risks – then that is a powerful argument against the majority of Japanese citizens who oppose  nuclear reactor restarts.

Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported Tuesday that evacuees from three Fukushima Prefecture localities who were displaced by the nuclear disaster started temporarily returning to their homes on Monday to prepare for their eventual permanent return.

“But applicants for the temporary stay program that began that day totaled 1,265, less than 10 percent of about 14,000 eligible as of Aug. 30,” the paper reported. “The small number indicates that an overwhelming majority of evacuees are still concerned about radiation levels and prospects for a return to normalcy in their hometowns.”

Source: Common Dreams

http://commondreams.org/news/2015/09/01/fukushima-report-dangerously-downplays-ongoing-health-risks-greenpeace?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=twitter&utm_source=socialnetwork

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

IAEA’s final report on Fukushima disaster slams safety myth, downplays thyroid cancer fears

The IAEA released its final report Aug. 31 on the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant that spewed out vast amounts of radiation, leading to fears that cases of thyroid cancer in children would soar.

However, the report downplayed those fears, stating: “Because the reported thyroid doses attributable to the accident were generally low, an increase in childhood thyroid cancer attributable to the accident is unlikely.”

The 200-page report, compiled by 180 experts from 42 IAEA member countries, was released along with five technical volumes totaling 1,000 pages, and is to be presented at the IAEA’s general meeting scheduled to start on Sept. 14.

The materials are available on the IAEA’s official website at (http://www-pub.iaea.org/books/IAEABooks/10962/The-Fukushima-Daiichi-Accident).

“A major factor that contributed to the accident was the widespread assumption in Japan that its nuclear power plants were so safe,” the IAEA stated, adding that facilities and emergency procedures to address a major accident, such as the one triggered by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, were woefully insufficient.

The report begins with the foreword by Yukiya Amano, director-general of the IAEA.

“There can be no grounds for complacency about nuclear safety in any country,” Amano wrote.

With regard to other causes of the Fukushima disaster, the report cited flaws in the design of nuclear facilities and emergency procedures. It also criticized the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., for not having taken appropriate preparations in case outside power sources were lost for a prolonged period or anticipated accidents simultaneously occurring at multiple reactors.

The IAEA report pointed out that TEPCO did not take steps against towering tsunami inundating the plant even though it had anticipated that possibility based on a pre-disaster assessment by the government.

The final report also mentioned the effects of radioactive iodine released from the plant on the thyroid glands of children living near the nuclear facility.

But it also noted that uncertainties still linger about radiation doses children incurred immediately after the accident.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201509010052

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

IAEA releases final biased report on Fukushima accident

The International Atomic Energy Agency says a major factor behind the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident was a widespread assumption in Japan that nuclear power plants were safe.

The IAEA released a final report on Monday on the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. About 180 experts from more than 40 IAEA member countries contributed to the 1,200-page-plus report.

The report says that Japan was not sufficiently prepared for a severe nuclear accident due to the assumption that nuclear plants were safe. It says the Fukushima Daiichi plant had weaknesses in design and emergency preparedness.

The March 2011 accident came after a major earthquake and tsunami struck Fukushima Prefecture and the surrounding areas of northeastern Japan.

The report says the accident demonstrated the need to consider the potential for a combination of natural hazards to occur simultaneously. It says safety standards should also be continuously re-evaluated to consider advances in knowledge.

The report says no early radiation-induced health effects were observed among workers or members of the public.

It adds that although it can take decades for latent health effects to emerge, no discernible increase in such conditions is expected, given the low levels of radiation exposure among the general public.

The report also says thyroid abnormalities found in some children are unlikely to be associated with the nuclear accident, due to low exposure levels.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano says some of the factors that resulted in the Fukushima accident were not unique to Japan.

Amano says continuous questioning and openness to learning from experience are key to safety and are essential for everyone working in the industry.

The IAEA plans to submit the report to its General Conference this month to share the lessons on a wide scale and help improve the safety of nuclear plants.

“IAEA’s final report on Fukushima disaster slams safety myth, downplays thyroid cancer fears”

The International Atomic Energy Agency says a primary factor behind the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster was a mistaken “assumption” among plant operators about the safety of reactors.

Source: NHK

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150901_13.html

September 2, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment