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Adorable Japanese couple devastated by Fukushima turn lives around with solar

Okawara, Shin & Tatsuko

(Great photos) Greenpeace,  by Ai Kashiwagi – 26 February, 2016 For the past 30 years, Shin and Tatsuko Okawara spent their lives working as organic farmers. With their own organic farm, rural work was in their blood – tilling, planting and harvesting crops from the same soil their family worked on for six generations. They sold organic vegetables direct to customers and their service was cherished by the community.Mr and Mrs Okawara lived about 45km west of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and loved their place but at the same time were also cautious. They had a radiation detector alarm that they bought after feeling worried by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Then on 15 March 2011, four days after the earthquake and tsunami that caused the tragic Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, their detector alarm went off and radiation levels rose. They had no choice but to leave.

Eventually though, they decided to return.

“We have cattle and chickens and we had to come back to feed them. We couldn’t leave them and go elsewhere,” they told us in 2012.

But apart from dealing with the aftermath of such a tragic accident they also had to deal with the future of their farming business  – their customer base fell due to fears of contaminated produce, and they even thought about giving up on farming.

But instead of letting the nuclear accident shape them, they knew they had to move forward – for themselves, for their community and for their children’s future.

In 2013 they opened up an organic shop, “Esperi” in the agricultural town of Miharu, Fukushima Prefecture. Their intention was to help revitalise the area and create a community space where people could gather and help each other in 2013. After all, the name “Esperi” means “hope” in Esperanto.

But this wasn’t enough. So in October 2015, the couple launched the Solarise Fukushima crowdfunding project to install solar panels on the rooftop of their shop. Their aim? “Hope to spread life with solar energy from Miharu town, Fukushima”.

Before they knew it people around Japan and the rest of the world began contributing to their crowd funding project, and about a month later they achieved their target of around 1.5 mil JPY (about 13,500 US). Messages from crowd funding supporters gave them the encouragement they needed, especially as they felt “forgotten”.

Greenpeace Japan helped launch the project, and in January 2016 solar panels were installed on the Esperi rooftop.

When the Greenpeace International radiation investigation team first met the couple in April 2011, Mrs Okawara said:

“Fukushima people are a bit naive. For a long time, we did not have money, and just accepted the plan of nuclear power plants. But for the future of our children it would be a shame if we didn’t continue organic farming and take drastic action.”

In 2012 Fukushima Prefecture pledged to switch to 100% renewable energy by 2040. But the policies that the Japanese government are currently promoting is heading in the opposite direction.

In order to achieve a sustainable, reliable and affordable electricity system, the Japanese government urgently needs to change course and streamline its actions. It needs to put the interests of people before those of the utilities and stop wasting efforts on restarting nuclear plants, stop investments in coal power plants that lock in climate destruction, and an set ambitious renewable energy target.

For many people in Fukushima, their biggest wish is for a life without nuclear energy and a future powered by clean, safe renewable energy. Esperi is a tangible testament to the community’s future – it’s our hope.   Ai Kashiwagi is an energy campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.

February 29, 2016 Posted by | decentralised, Fukushima 2016, Japan | Leave a comment

In 10 years – 100% renewable energy is doable

renewable-energy-world-Sm100% Renewable Energy: What We Can Do in 10 Years Yes! Magazine It will take at least three decades to completely leave behind fossil fuels. But we can do it. And the first step is to start with the easy stuff. Richard Heinberg  Feb 22, 2016

If our transition to renewable energy is successful, we will achieve savings in the ongoing energy expenditures needed for economic production. We will be rewarded with a quality of life that is acceptable—and, perhaps, preferable to our current one (even though, for most Americans, material consumption will be scaled back from its current unsustainable level). We will have a much more stable climate than would otherwise be the case. And we will see greatly reduced health and environmental impacts from energy production activities.

But the transition will entail costs—not just money and regulation, but also changes in our behavior and expectations. It will probably take at least three or four decades, and will fundamentally change the way we live.

Nobody knows how to accomplish the transition in detail, because this has never been done before. Most previous energy transitions were driven by opportunity, not policy. And they were usually additive, with new energy resources piling onto old ones (we still use firewood, even though we’ve added coal, hydro, oil, natural gas, and nuclear to the mix).

Since the renewable energy revolution will require trading our currently dominant energy sources (fossil fuels) for alternative ones (mostly wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, and biomass) that have different characteristics, there are likely to be some hefty challenges along the way.

Therefore, it makes sense to start with the low-hanging fruit and with a plan in place, then revise our plan frequently as we gain practical experience. Several organizations have already formulated plans for transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy. David Fridley, staff scientist of the energy analysis program at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and I have been working for the past few months to analyze and assess those plans and have a book in the works titled Our Renewable Future. Here’s a very short summary, tailored mostly to the United States, of what we’ve found.

Level One: The Easy Stuff  Continue reading

February 29, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Huge rally in Britain against Trident nuclear missile system

flag-UKTrident rally is Britain’s biggest anti-nuclear march in a generation
Thousands of protesters including Jeremy Corbyn and other party leaders gather in London for CND march and rally, Guardian, 
, 28 Feb 16, Thousands of protesters have assembled in central London for Britain’s biggest anti-nuclear weapons rally in a generation.

Campaigners gathered from across the world: some said they had travelled from Australia to protest against the renewal of Trident. Others had come from the west coast of Scotland, where Britain’s nuclear deterrent submarines are based.

As the huge column of people began moving from Marble Arch after 1pm, the mood was buoyant and spirited despite the cold. Naomi Young, 34, from Southampton said: “You can’t use nuclear weapons. You would destroy the environment and kill hundreds of thousands of people. Why spend £100bn to buy a weapon unless you want to destroy the earth?”

Many waved placards with phrases including “Books Not Bombs”, “Cut War Not Welfare” and “NHS Not Trident”.

A common theme among protesters was the cost of renewing Trident during a period of austerity……..

Organisers of the march, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, were confident the turnout would send a robust message of growing support against renewing the nuclear weapons system – at an estimated cost of least £41bn – and argued that worries about job losses were a red herring…….

February 29, 2016 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Start of New UN Talks on Nuclear Weapons

world-disarmament-1Through a series of international conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and a formal pledge to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” endorsed by 123 governments, non-nuclear weapon states are working to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

By stigmatizing nuclear weapons — declaring them unacceptable and immoral for all — the international community can start demanding and pressuring the nuclear-armed states and their military alliances to deliver what they’ve actually promised: a world free of nuclear weapons.

Stigmatize and Prohibit: New UN Talks on Nuclear Weapons Start logo-ICANToday, Huffington Post,  02/21/2016 Beatrice FihnExecutive Director, International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

When North Korea tested a nuclear weapon in January, condemnation from all around the world flowed within minutes. A week later, the United States carried out a mock nuclear weapons test of a new type of “more usable” warhead in the Nevada desert. Aside from a small number of civil society organizations, the international community was silent.

Just two weeks ago, North Korea carried out a rocket launch and thereby tested the capability to launch long-range missiles, capable of delivering nuclear weapons on targets far, far away. The world once again rose up and criticized this, with statements by the United Nations Security Council and condemnations from Foreign Ministers all around the world.

Early this morning, the United States tested its Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile, a missile that is intended for launching nuclear bombs on Russia or any other target on the other side of the world. Again, few seem to care.

The United Nations Secretary-General has said, “There are no right hands for the wrong weapon”. But many in the international community often act with implicit acceptance of American, British, French, Russian, and Chinese nuclear weapons.

The “Humanitarian Initiative”, however, is challenging this implicit acceptance. Through a series of international conferences on the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons and a formal pledge to “fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons” endorsed by 123 governments, non-nuclear weapon states are working to stigmatize, prohibit and eliminate nuclear weapons.

By stigmatizing nuclear weapons — declaring them unacceptable and immoral for all — the international community can start demanding and pressuring the nuclear-armed states and their military alliances to deliver what they’ve actually promised: a world free of nuclear weapons.

Negotiating a new international treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, even without the participation of nuclear-armed states, would be one of the most effective toolsfor achieving such stigmatization.

And that work starts now. Far removed from headlines regarding North Korea’s recent tests or other non-proliferation issues like the Iran deal, a new UN Working Group in Geneva, Switzerland, will start today.

In true UN-style, the Working Group has a blurry and bureaucratic mandate, wrapped inside a Resolution of several pages from the UN General Assembly. However, its task is to work on new legal measures for nuclear disarmament.

Through this Working Group, the 123 states that have endorsed the humanitarian pledge to “fill the legal gap” have an opportunity to start work on a new, legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.

The Working Group might not cause big headlines like the Iran deal, but judging by the strong reaction from the nuclear weapon states and those under the nuclear umbrella, it is clear that they do not see it as just another talking shop.

The nuclear weapon states seem genuinely dismayed about the efforts to stigmatize and prohibit nuclear weapons. They are all boycotting the Working Group and are strong-arming allied states under the US nuclear umbrella and NATO members into representing their interests whilst pretending to be disengaged.

The nuclear weapon states are doing everything they can to stop the process to stigmatize and prohibit nuclear weapons – as they know it will challenge their self-proclaimed right to keep these weapons of mass destruction around for as long as they wish. …….


February 29, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Indian Point nuclear plant’s 65,000% Spike In Radiation

text ionisingFlag-USA65,000% Spike In Radiation Outside New York Nuclear Plant Is Likely Worse Than Fukushima, Activist Post  FEBRUARY 27, 2016 BY JAY SYRMOPOULOS Buchanan, NY — An uncontrollable radioactive flow from the Indian Point nuclear power plant continues leaking into groundwater, which leads to the Hudson River, raising the specter of a Fukushima-like disaster only 25 miles from New York City.

The Indian Point nuclear plant is located on the Hudson River, approximately 25 miles North of NYC, and serves the electrical needs of an estimated 2 million people. Last month, while preparing a reactor for refueling, workers accidentally spilled some contaminated water, containing the radioactive hydrogen isotope tritium, causing a massive radiation spike in groundwater monitoring wells, with one well’s radioactivity increasing by as much as 65,000 percent.

Entergy, the Louisiana-based company that owns the plant, chalked up the readings to “fluctuations that can be expected as the material migrates.” According to Entergy, the tritium contaminated water spill was contained within the plant, and never reached the Hudson or any other water source.

“There is no impact to public health or safety,” Entergy spokeswoman Patricia Kakridas told RT.

Of course, the tritium leak is the ninth in just the past year, four of which were serious enough to shut down the reactors. But the most recent leak, however, according to an assessment by the New York Department of State as part of its Coastal Zone Management Assessment, contains a variety of radioactive elements such as strontium-90, cesium-137, cobalt-60, and nickel-63, and isn’t limited to tritium contamination.

Despite the assurances from Entergy, the area around Indian Point is a “cancer cluster,” with the local rate of thyroid cancer rates registering at 66 percent higher than the national average, according to Joseph Mangano, Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project (RPHP).

According to a report by RT: Continue reading

February 29, 2016 Posted by | incidents, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Japanese Government Takes Grave Risks with Radiation Exposure

radiation-warningflag-japanHow Much Is Too Much? Japanese Government Takes Grave Risks with Radiation Exposure  28 Feb 16 Japan’s nuclear crisis isn’t going away – and long-term health impacts from the radiation are now a grave concern as the situation continues to escalate. Dozens of repair workers at the reeling Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant have already been exposed to radiation levels well beyond the country’s legal yearly dose limit. So far, the highest specific exposures reported are from two workers who received – on one day alone – radiation doses of more than three times the internationally recognized annual occupational exposure limit. Reports say the workers had severe rashes on the parts of their bodies exposed to radioactive water. Those troubling revelations prompted an even more troubling response from the Japanese government. In a move that is certain to stunt workers’ lives and potentially plague future generations with increased cancer rates, Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has lifted the internationally recognized 50-millisievert (mSv) yearly cap on occupational exposure. That specific 50-mSv limit is recognized as the lowest dose that can trigger cancer in adults. It is most definitely not an arbitrary number to be manipulated by short-sighted governments – not even during times of crisis.

Japan’s decision to abolish the cap is just the latest bombshell in a series of potentially devastating policy changes made in recent weeks, coming on the heels of government officials upping the yearly legal limit of 100 mSv in “emergency situations” to 250 mSv for workers at the Fukushima plant. To put that in perspective,

Continue reading

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Japan, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

The social toll on Fukushima families

For some Fukushima mothers, protecting children from radiation comes at heavy price, Asahi Shimbun February 23, 2016 Three-and-a-half years after fleeing to central Japan, a mother received a package from her husband who had opted to remain at their home in Fukushima Prefecture despite the nuclear disaster.

From Tamura, about 35 kilometers west of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the father sent snacks for the couple’s two children. The cardboard box also contained divorce papers.

“I cannot send money to my family whom I cannot see,” the husband told his wife.

She still refused to return home.

Thanks to decontamination work, radiation levels have fallen around the nuclear plant since the triple meltdown caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. And families are returning to their hometowns, trying to resume normal lives.

But many mothers, distrustful of the government’s safety assurances, still harbor fears that radiation will affect the health of their children. As a result of these concerns, families are being torn apart, friendships have ended, and a social divide remains wide in Fukushima communities.

Around 70,000 people are still not allowed to return to their homes located in evacuation zones designated by the central government. And an estimated 18,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture whose homes were outside those zones remain living in evacuation………..

Sung Woncheol, a professor of sociology at Chukyo University, and others have conducted surveys on mothers whose children were 1 to 2 years old when the nuclear disaster started. The mothers live in Fukushima city and eight other municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture.

Of the 1,200 mothers who responded to the survey in 2015, 50 percent said they had concerns about child-rearing in Fukushima Prefecture.

Nearly 30 percent said they avoid or try to avoid using food products from Fukushima Prefecture, compared with more than 80 percent six months after the disaster.

But for some mothers, the passage of nearly five years since the disaster unfolded has not erased their fears of radiation.

The 36-year-old mother who received the divorce papers from her husband in autumn 2014 continues to live with her children in the central Japan city to which she had no previous connection.

A month after the nuclear disaster, she fled with her then 1-year-old son and her daughter, 10, from their home, even though it was not located in an evacuation zone.

She said she left Fukushima Prefecture because she “could not trust the data released by the central government.”……..

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

‘deep freeze’ of soil wall at Fukushima plant

TEPCO nears ‘deep freeze’ of soil wall at Fukushima plant  February 21, 2016 By HIROMI KUMAI/ Staff Writer

Packed with bulky silver pipes and freezing equipment, Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s plant to freeze underground soil at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is ready to start chilling.

On Feb. 19, TEPCO officials showed the interior of the newly built facility, the heart of the project to reduce accumulating radioactive water at the nuclear complex.

The plan envisages a frozen soil wall built around the reactor buildings by inserting 1,568 pipes to a depth of 30 meters.

Cooling agents, which register 30 degrees below zero, will be pumped into the pipes to freeze the surrounding soil.

In theory, the flow of groundwater into the reactor buildings, which would mix with contaminated water and empty out in the sea, will be blocked.

With approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority earlier this month, the utility plans to start freezing the area facing the sea as early as March, a process expected to take about two and a half months.

In total, it will take seven to eight months to complete all the freezing of the underground soil, including the mountain side of the wall, according to TEPCO’s blueprint presented to the NRA this month.

That means that the project to build a frozen barrier will significantly lag behind the initial targeted completion date of the end of March.

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment

Scientific Investigation Into Fukushima Disaster’s Effect On Pacific Ocean,

Fukushima toiletClean Technica, February 26th, 2016 by   Nearly five years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Greenpeace has launched a high-tech investigation into the radiation effects of the meltdowns on the Pacific Ocean. “…… Greenpeace Japan announced Thursday that it is conducting an underwater investigation into radiation contamination of the Pacific Ocean caused by the disaster. According to Greenpeace, the investigation will be conducted aboard a Japanese research vessel using a one of a kind Remotely Operated Vehicle fitted with a sensitive gamma radiation spectrometer and sediment sampler.

Mr Naoto Kan, the former Prime Minister of Japan and leader at the time of the nuclear accident, joined the crew of the Greenpeace Flagship, the Rainbow Warrior, on the opening day of the investigation, and called for a complete phase out of nuclear power.

“I once believed Japan’s advanced technology would prevent a nuclear accident like Chernobyl from happening in Japan,” said Mr. Kan. “But it did not, and I was faced with the very real crisis of having to evacuate about 50 million people at risk from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. I have since changed my mind. We do not need to take such a big risk. Instead we should shift to safer and cheaper renewable energy with potential business opportunities for our future generations.”

Since the disaster, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which has maintained the plant, has produced over 1.4 million tonnes of radioactive contaminated water in an effort to cool down the three reactors that went critical. Furthermore, in addition to the initial release of liquid nuclear waste during the first weeks of the accident, and the daily releases ever since, contamination has also flowed from the land itself, particularly nearby forests and mountains of Fukushima, and are expected to continue to contaminate the Pacific Ocean for at least the next 300 years.

“The Fukushima disaster is the single largest release of radioactivity into the marine environment in history,” said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist with Greenpeace Germany. “There is an urgent need to understand the impacts this contamination is having on the ocean, how radioactivity is both dispersing and concentrating and its implications.

“TEPCO failed to prevent a multiple reactor meltdown and five years later it’s still an ongoing disaster. It has no credible solution to the water crisis they created and is failing to prevent the further contamination of the Pacific Ocean.”

Greenpeace’s investigation will continue into March along the coast of the Fukushima prefecture, and will protrude into the 20 kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

“There is still no end in sight for communities in Fukushima, many of whom can’t return home due to radiation contamination,” said Mamoru Sekiguchi, Energy Campaigner with Greenpeace Japan. “Rather than pushing for the restart of nuclear power, the Japanese government should put these people first and focus on managing the Fukushima Daiichi site. Many people in Japan have rejected nuclear power and are demanding the only safe and clean technology that can meet Japan’s needs – renewable energy.”

Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist with Greenpeace Germany, explained more about the crisis in a recent blog post, and the role that Greenpeace has played, and continues to play.

February 29, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, oceans | Leave a comment

3 ex-TEPCO execs face the law

justiceflag-japanto be indicted Mon. over Fukushima nuclear disaster February 26, 2016 (Mainichi Japan) TOKYO (Kyodo) — Three former executives of Tokyo Electric Power Co. will be indicted Monday for allegedly failing to take measures to prevent the tsunami-triggered crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, a lawyer in charge of the case said Friday.

The three, who will face charges of professional negligence resulting in death and injury, are Tsunehisa Katsumata, 75, chairman of TEPCO at the time, and two former vice presidents — Sakae Muto, 65, and Ichiro Takekuro, 69.

Prosecutors decided not to indict the three in September 2013, but the decision was overturned in July 2015 by an independent committee of citizens that mandated the three be charged on the grounds they were able to foresee the risks of a major tsunami prior to the disaster.

Source close to the matter said the three will be indicted without being taken into custody.

But the trial to look into the criminal responsibility of the then key TEPCO figures is unlikely to start by the end of the year, as preparations to sort out evidence and points of issues apparently require a considerable amount of time, they said…….

The Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution has said the former executives received a report by June 2009 that the plant could be hit by tsunami as high as 15.7 meters and that they “failed to take pre-emptive measures knowing the risk of a major tsunami.”

It also blamed the three for the injuries of 13 people, including Self-Defense Forces members, when hydrogen explosions occurred at the plant and the death of 44 hospital patients who evacuated amid harsh conditions…….

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Taiwan’s unsafe nuclear waste storage

Taipower panned over nuclear waste storage,Taipei Times, 28 Feb 16  RECKLESS:Storing nuclear waste in close proximity to the sea was not safe, as the containers could be submerged during a tsunami, a Japanese waste expert said By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter Nuclear experts and a legislator yesterday criticized Taiwan Power Co (Taipower ) for its nuclear waste treatment during a visit to the Guosheng Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Wanli District (萬里), saying the company’s temporary storage solution is problematic and its management is not transparent.

A visit by nuclear experts and activists to examine the plant’s dry cask storage facilities, a radioactive waste incinerator and a cooling pond was canceled after Taipower denied Japanese nuclear waste expert Masako Sawai access to the facilities due to a visa issue……….

Despite not being able to personally examine the facilities, Sawai criticized Taipower’s dry cask storage based on its design.

The company plans to store high-level radioactive waste in steel cylinders surrounded by concrete shells placed outdoors as a temporary solution until a permanent depository is constructed.


“Instead of being constructed as a single and seamless piece, the steel cylinder is designed to be welded, but welding points might corrode and crack over an extended period, and the likelihood of corrosion is greater when casks are stored outdoors and exposed to winds containing sea salt,” Sawai said.

The casks should be portable, but Taipower’s concrete cask, each weighing about 200 tonnes, could not be transported in case of an emergency, Sawai added.

“Although concrete casks are 20 percent cheaper than the metal casks used in Japan and many European nations, safety is more important than costs,” she said.

Choosing a storage area that is at close proximity to sea was improper, because casks would be submerged during a tsunami, as was the case with the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear disaster, Sawai said.

He criticized the company’s incinerator for burning low-level nuclear waste. He said it runs on diesel instead of plasma torch technology as claimed on the Atomic Energy Council’s Web site.

Incinerators powered by diesel could only reach about 1,000?C, 90 percent lower than the temperature reached by plasma torch, leading to incomplete burning of radioactive waste, He said. He also criticized the location of a cooling reservoir on a hill above the plant’s two reactors, which is designed to pump water to the cooling system using the force of gravity during a nuclear accident if electrical power is cut, saying that the reservoir was not placed high enough to have the pressure required to pump water into the reactors to prevent a possible meltdown.

“The improper design of the reservoir and incinerator arises from the fact that the designer and supervisor of the nuclear waste treatment are the same institution, which is the Atomic Energy Council’s Institute of Nuclear Energy Research. It is time for the council to be replaced,” he said.

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Taiwan, wastes | Leave a comment

USA Energy Dept keen to reopen New Mexico Nuclear waste Station: others not so sure

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant WIPPNew Mexico Presses Ahead on Nuclear-Waste Plant Reopening Burial site’s closure caused by 2014 accident left waste piling up across the country, WSJ  By JOHN R. EMSHWILLER Feb. 28, 2016

Despite a nine-month delay in the planned reopening of an underground nuclear-waste repository in New Mexico damaged by a radiation accident, progress is being made in resuming operations, said a top state official overseeing the effort.

In January, the Energy Department said it had pushed the reopening date of the federal facility near Carlsbad, N.M., to December from March. The closure caused by the February 2014 accident has left nuclear waste destined for the repository piling up at sites around the country……

Among the issues still being addressed, he said, are residual contamination from the accident and ensuring adequate and safe air flows in the complex.

While officials want to see WIPP reopen as soon as possible, “we have to make sure it is done right,” said Mr. Flynn, whose agency must give its approval before the site can accept waste again. He said he thinks December is a reasonable target date.

Not everyone is as sanguine. Given the remaining challenges, “I think it’s very unlikely the December date will be met,” said Don Hancock, director of the nuclear-waste safety program at the Southwest Research and Information Center, an Albuquerque, N.M., environmental group.

Earlier this month, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said he expects resumption of full operations at the repository to take a few years……..

The Energy Department has said it would cost about $240 million to bring WIPP back into operation and tens of millions of dollars more in additional capital costs, including revisions to the ventilation system.

WIPP, which began operations about 17 years ago, was designed to dispose of a specific type of nuclear waste from the atomic-weapons program. More than 171,000 waste containers are buried there………

February 29, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The end of the nuclear age – foreshadowed as Indian Point nuclear station leaks radioactivity

Indian Point Leak Foreshadows the End of the Nuclear Age, Fortune by  David Z. Morris @davidzmorris
 FEBRUARY 28, 2016, New York could be the next Fukushima as world governments roll back nuclear power.

The Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York State is leaking radioactive contaminant into nearby groundwater, and despite plant operator Entergy’s  ELA 0.08%  assurances that the leak has “no health or safety consequences,” Governor Andrew Cuomo called earlier this month for a full investigation by state environment and health officials.

The latest revelations add to a mounting list of recent accidents and problems at Indian Point, and Cuomo’s hard stance is nothing new, either. As of November of last year, Cuomo’s office actively opposed the continuing operation of Indian Point.


The plant’s problems are not isolated—leaks have been found at as many as 75% of U.S. nuclear plants. And closing Indian Point would put New York, and the U.S., in line with a sharp global move away from nuclear power following 2011’s meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daichi reactor. Japan shut down all of its nuclear plants after the disaster, and only began tentatively restarting a handful in 2015.

Countries including France and Germany have moved to similar phase-outs, with Germany in 2011 pledging to phase out all nuclear power by 2022. Austria and Spain have stopped all construction on new nuclear plants. The U.S. had not constructed a new nuclear power plant in nearly twenty years when, in October of 2015, a plant in Tennessee was given the go-ahead.

Nuclear plants represent huge threats to nearby areas, though the risk of a disaster at any one plant is small. While Stanford researchers have found that Fukushima’s fallout may directly cause only about 300 deaths worldwide, estimates of economic losses range from $250-$500 billion, stemming largely from the removal of 159,128 people from a zone the size of Connecticut—land which will be uninhabitable for centuries.

Fukushima prefecture had a population just short of two million at the time of the disaster. Indian Point sits just 25 miles north of New York City’s 8.5 million inhabitants, as well as real estate many times more valuable than that in northern Japan. During the Fukushima meltdown, the Japanese government established a 20 kilometer (12 mile) evacuation zone around the reactor—but the U.S. embassy recommended that Americans leave areas within 50 miles.

That suggests that a meltdown at Indian Point could lead to the evacuation of New York City. In addition to profound human costs, the immediate economic damage would run into many trillions of dollars. And it is no exaggeration to say that a threat to New York City is a threat to the entire U.S. economy, which it plays a key role in organizing…….

February 29, 2016 Posted by | incidents, safety, USA | 1 Comment

TEPCO irresponsible in its assessment of core meltdowns

TEPCO’s statements on assessment of core meltdowns are irresponsible, Japan News, February 27, 2016 The Yomiuri Shimbun Is it possible that Tokyo Electric Power Co. intentionally refused to acknowledge “meltdowns” at crippled reactors of its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant?

It was found that TEPCO had been unaware of assessment guidelines on meltdowns written in in-house regulations when the nuclear accident happened in Fukushima Prefecture. It denied any “meltdown,” which would suggest a serious situation.

“We were not aware at that time that there were such guidelines,” an official of the company said.

This has to be called a lame excuse by TEPCO, the largest electric power company in Japan.

According to the company’s nuclear disaster management manual at the time, a reactor core must be considered in meltdown if 5 percent or more of its nuclear fuel is believed to be damaged.

After the nuclear accident in the prefecture, a device to monitor radiation levels in containment vessels stopped working due to a power outage. After the device was restarted on March 14, 2011, it became possible to estimate how much nuclear fuel had been damaged in the reactors. The firm estimated 30 percent of the nuclear fuel in the No. 3 reactor of the plant had been damaged. If TEPCO had followed the guidelines, the situation apparently would have been a state of “meltdown.”

However, the firm, which called the situation “core damage,” claimed at the time that there was no clear definition of a meltdown. Two months had passed before TEPCO acknowledged at a press conference that the reactors had been in meltdown.

By intentionally avoiding the expression “meltdown,” which could have created more fear, didn’t the firm fail to convey the graveness of the situation to the public?……

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment

Efficacy of compensation program for nuclear workers under scrutiny

sick worker IdahoFeb 22, 2016. … Since Congress passed the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act in 2000, the government has spent $12 billion in financial restitution for more than 100,000 workers whose onset of cancer, beryllium disease, neurological disorders and other ailments is a result of careers in the more than 300 nuclear facilities across the country. …
But the program has come under scrutiny lately.  An investigation by the McClatchy DC news service found that fewer than half of the people who have applied for benefits have received them, and workers’ complaints are often suspended in the complex process of paperwork or court hearings, with some claims languishing in the system for up to 10 years.

February 29, 2016 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment