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The Murder of Hilda Murrell, An Abiding Mystery?

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From OpenDemocracy.Net:
The murder of Hilda Murrell, an abiding mystery?
JOHN OSMOND 5 December 2011
The grotesque murder of a 78 year old rose-growing spinster continues to grip attention in Britain after 27 years – and this is why….
A Thorn In Their Side by Robert Green, published by Rata Books of New Zealand and is available online (NZ$60, including p@p) through accessing Robert Green’s website

There are many layers to unravel about the grotesque murder of a 78 year old rose-growing spinster in Shrewsbury  27 years ago. The first lies in the character and campaign of the extraordinary woman at the centre of what became a murderous melodrama, Hilda Murrell. She was among the first women to graduate from Cambridge, obtaining her degree in 1927, after which she returned home to Shrewsbury, eventually to take over the family horticultural business. In her later years she became much…

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March 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Avoiding collapse: Grand challenges for science and society to solve by 2050

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

News Stories about global change. News Stories about global change.

“These six examples illustrate that there is no one-size-fits all approach for researchers to address today’s grand environmental challenges, but two common themes emerge. The first is that it is no longer enough to simply do the science and publish an academic paper; that is a necessary first step, but moves only halfway towards the goal of guiding the planet towards a future that is sustainable for both human civilization and the biosphere. To implement knowledge that arises from basic research, it is necessary to establish dialogues and collaborations that transcend narrow academic specialties, and bridge between academia, industry, the policy community and society in general. The second theme is that now is the time to rise to these scientific and communication challenges. The trajectories of population overgrowth, climate change, ecosystem loss, extinctions, disease, and environmental contamination have been rapidly accelerating over the past half-century…

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March 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

March 23 Energy News



How California got way ahead of the rest of the world in fighting climate change • Today, California can claim first place in just about every renewable-energy category. It has also attracted more venture capital investment for clean-energy technologies than the European Union and China combined. [Grist]

Reuters | Steve Marcus Reuters | Steve Marcus


¶ PowerStream unveiled Canada’s first of its kind virtual power plant. The virtual power plant dubbed Power House, is meant to showcase how residential customers can simultaneously generate their own clean energy and work together as a virtual power plant to augment the grid. [CTV News]

¶ Morocco is investing about $2.6 billion on the construction of the Ouarzazate complex, which forms the heart of a $9 billion strategy to harness one of the country’s greatest natural resources, sunshine. And impressively, the complex can continue to operate after the sun sets. [

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March 24, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FIVE YEARS AFTER: Fukushima thyroid cancer patients’ families join forces


The grandmother, left, and mother of a female high school student

who underwent thyroid surgery talk about their concerns

in Fukushima Prefecture on March 5

Families of young thyroid cancer patients from Fukushima Prefecture diagnosed after the 3/11 disaster have formed a support group that also aims to pressure doctors and authorities for better policies.

The 311 Thyroid Cancer Family Group hopes to share the concerns people have felt over the health of their loved ones in the five years since the onset of the nuclear crisis.

“We want the Fukushima prefectural government and doctors to demonstrate a better understanding of patients,” one member said.

The group was established by seven parents and relatives of five young people from the prefecture’s central Nakadori and eastern Hamadori areas who underwent thyroid surgery following the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Hiroyuki Kawai, a lawyer from the Daini Tokyo Bar Association, will lead the group as its representative. Others will help manage the association, including Motomi Ushiyama, a doctor who has served as a physician in Fukushima Prefecture and also conducted an investigation on residents of areas contaminated in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

“Our aim is to create a place where patients, who remain separated and are unable to even talk of their anxieties or doubts, can meet and talk to one another,” Kawai said. “By having the patients and their families unite and cry out as one, it makes it easier for us to make policy suggestions to the government.”

The group is considering filing lawsuits in the future against the central and prefectural governments, along with Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Fukushima plant’s operator, but at the moment, its main purpose is to provide direct help to the patients and their families.

The Fukushima prefectural government continues to examine the thyroid glands of residents who were 18 or under at the time of the 2011 nuclear disaster and those born following the event, which accounted for around 380,000 people. A total of 166 cases of thyroid cancer or suspected signs of the condition were found before the end of 2015.

However, the prefecture’s expert panel assessing the statistics deemed it was “unlikely the cases were caused by radiation.”

Unsurprisingly, members of the group viewed this official statement with unease and skepticism.

One high school student from Nakadori had her thyroid gland removed by a doctor at Fukushima Medical University Hospital last spring. But with the cancer cells having spread more than expected, she now has a large scar across her neck that she feels she must cover with a scarf even in summer.

Her mother, in her 40s, said: “My daughter became more prone to fatigue after the surgery. Falling asleep while playing her video games, which she loves to do, was something that never happened before.”

A nodule was found on the student’s thyroid about two years ago. At the hospital, her surgeon told her: “We will examine the tissue believed to be formed of cancer cells by sticking a needle in your neck. It’s very painful, so it’s up to you to decide. Make up your mind within a month.”

The student and mother talked it over and decided to opt for the test. But when they returned to the hospital to get the results, the mother was shocked, as the doctor just blurted out the results in front of the young patient, saying: “It was a malignant tumor.”

The doctor did, however, explain it was nothing to worry about and said: “It’s not a big deal. Thyroid cancers can be left as they are for six months or a year, and they still won’t be anything life-threatening.”

But when the student underwent surgery six months later, her mother was reprimanded by the same doctor who said: “The tumor was bigger than we had expected. Who in the world told you that you can leave it for six months?”

The doctor also warned her of the possibilities of recurrence.

After her daughter’s surgery, the mother joined an event organized by the hospital for thyroid cancer patients to meet one another. But it was nothing like what she had envisioned.

“We only heard one-sided stories, and it was not a forum that would answer any of the doubts I had,” she said. “It was completely useless.”

The father of a man who was a high school student in 2011 was disturbed by the attitude of the same doctor who also operated on his son’s thyroid.

The father said: “After the surgery, I repeatedly asked the doctor if the cancer had anything to do with the nuclear power plant, but he just flat-out rejected it saying, ‘There’s no correlation.’

Furthermore, the doctor told him: “Don’t say anything to the media even if they learn about your son’s surgery. You know there’s no necessity for you to answer them.”

“My son fears recurrence and metastasis every day,” the father said.

However, the doctor told The Asahi Shimbun through the institution’s public relations department that he had been misunderstood.

“We have been paying the utmost attention to establishing an environment where patients can talk about their worries and doubts, having mental health care specialists getting involved with them at an early stage of their treatments. Such efforts continue well into the post-surgery period,” he said in writing.

“The diagnosis of cancer is something we take extreme care when we are letting the patients know about it. But now having been confronted by interpretations that were not at all my intentions, I strongly realize the difficulty of conveying the message to patients. When we give the notice to patients who are minors, we consult their guardians and check with them before giving them the word.”

Meanwhile, the 311 Thyroid Cancer Family Group will be holding events to promote networking between patients’ families and where they can seek advice, encouraging more people to join the group.

The members said: “We first want to encourage the patients to meet each other, share information and demand improvement of their medical environments.”


March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

State ignored predictions 10 years before 3/11 tsunami, says seismologist

The March 2011 tsunami that crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was foreshadowed almost 10 years earlier, but government interference meant the threat was not acted on, seismologist Kunihiko Shimazaki has said.

Shimazaki said a July 2002 prediction by the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion stated an earthquake as big as one in 1896 that caused monster tsunami had a 20 percent chance of occurring somewhere near the Japan Trench within 30 years.

The trench lies in the Pacific and stretches off the Sanriku area in the Tohoku region to the Boso Peninsula off Chiba Prefecture.

The 1896 tsunami triggered by the temblor that struck off Sanriku killed some 22,000 people.

The prediction by the government panel covered areas including waters off Fukushima Prefecture, home to the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which suffered a triple reactor meltdown due to damage from the tsunami unleashed by the March 11, 2011, magnitude-9.0 earthquake that hit Fukushima and other parts in the Tohoku region.

“Compared with earthquakes that occur in active faults once in thousands of years, the probability (of 20 percent in 30 years) is surprisingly high and cannot be ignored,” Shimazaki, who played a central role in drawing up the long-term tsunami prediction and is now professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, said.

However, he said that just before the release of a report on the prediction, the secretariat of the research headquarters added a paragraph stressing the uncertainty of the forecast.

“An official of the Cabinet Office responsible for anti-disaster measures insisted on having a different committee discuss long-term tsunami prediction,” he said. “This was something that had never happened before, and I felt pressure.” He added, “It was puzzling and frightening.”

Shimazaki said the Central Disaster Prevention Council (CDPC) of the Cabinet Office ended up making tsunami assumptions that were far removed from the prediction by the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion.

The CDPC assumed that only the northern part of the Tohoku region would be hit by tsunami, based on the premise that a recurrence of the 1896 Sanriku earthquake would occur in the same place, explained Shimazaki.

Huge tsunami around the same location near the Japan Trench have occurred at intervals of hundreds of years, and only about 100 years have passed since the 1896 earthquake, he noted.

The CDPC, which is tasked with devising anti-disaster measures based on the government-affiliated research body’s long-term predictions, chose to focus on the low probability and turned its eyes away from waters off the southern part of the Tohoku region, including Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefecture, just south of Fukushima, Shimazaki said.

He admitted that it is difficult for seismologists to predict earthquakes and tsunami with perfect accuracy, saying that while temblors do take place repeatedly in the same area they occur in somewhat different locations.

But Shimazaki added, “We can make assumptions about the location, timing and size to some extent, within certain ranges.

“Such assumptions were made, but were not utilized for the Fukushima No. 1 plant,” he said.

Shimazaki, 70, has also served as chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction and acting chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. At the NRA, he played a major role in the work to create the country’s stricter nuclear plant safety standards based on lessons from the Fukushima No. 1 disaster.

Last July, he appeared in court as a witness for plaintiffs suing the central government and Tepco over the nuclear disaster.

“A lot of people died in the quake and tsunami,” Shimazaki said. “I’m also responsible for failing to reduce the damage.”

Stressing that such a disaster that claimed so many lives must never be repeated, Shimazaki said, “We must find out why it happened, but the causes are not being pursued.”

“The mistakes will be repeated if nothing is done,” he said as he explained why he decided to speak in court.

He also said assumptions of tsunami occurring on the Sea of Japan side of the country, announced by a land ministry working group in 2014, were not sufficient.

“If a catastrophic disaster happens again, they might again claim that it was beyond their assumptions,” he said. “That can’t be permitted.”

Although five years have passed since the nuclear meltdowns, Shimazaki said he doubts anything has changed.

“I see lack of clarity and responsibility in committees of experts organized by the state,” he said.

“In the world of science, we can together look for facts and can reach agreement to a certain extent. That is not the case when the state is involved, and mistakes will be repeated if we are not aware of the difference.”

Science is used for decision-making by the state, but scientists do not challenge how this is done, he said.

“They have to say ‘no’ if they think something is wrong, but they are not doing this,” Shimazaki said, adding that the lack of clarity around responsibility remains in five years.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

2,029,900,000 Bq of Cs-134/137 leaked as contaminated water in Fukushima plant



According to Tepco, a leakage detector of waste incineration building went off around noon of 3/23/2016.

Tepco reports the leaked volume was 5.3 t. The leaked contaminated water was from the cesium absorption facility to contain extremely high density of Cs-134/137.

From Tepco’s announcement, Cs-134/137 density was 383,000,000 Bq/m3.

All β nuclides to include Sr-90 was 480,000,000 Bq/m3.

At the moment of the press release, Tepco had not completed removing the leaked water but they state the building is designed to retain contaminated water inside.

The pipe from the cesium absorption facility was cut off due to a construction however somebody turned on the facility to cause the large leakage.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

FIVE YEARS AFTER: Asahi survey: 70% of evacuees report declined health since 3/11

Almost 70 percent of 3/11 evacuees that answered an Asahi Shimbun questionnaire said their health had worsened since the triple disasters struck five years ago.

Comparing their current health to before the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disasters, 23 percent of respondents said it had worsened greatly, while 46 percent said it had worsened somewhat.

One 67-year-old man living in temporary housing in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, wrote: “I cannot use a chair because the temporary housing unit is so cramped. The condition of my knees has worsened because I have to sit on the floor for a long time.”

Questionnaires were sent out to 944 evacuees from the three hardest-hit prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima in February and responses were received from 619. While all respondents in 2012 were evacuees living in temporary housing, some have since moved back home.

Respondents also showed signs of psychological stresses in their responses to a question with the option to give multiple responses.

Forty-eight percent said they had experienced an increase in the concerns they felt, 37 percent said they felt down or lonely, 28 percent said they were more irritated and 25 percent said they had difficulty sleeping.

Only 22 percent said they were in a calmful state unchanged from before the disasters.

A 55-year-old woman who runs her own business and lives in an apartment in Yamada, Iwate Prefecture, said: “Whenever I see tsunami footage, I remember relatives who died and I become lonelier. I am also worried because I have no idea when I will be able to rebuild my home.”

A 77-year-old woman who was evacuated from Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, to Aizu-Misato, also in the prefecture, said: “My life changed completely because of the nuclear accident, and I tend to feel more down. I also feel psychological uncertainty because I still do not have a settled residence.”

The respondents were also asked to list up to three policies they wanted the central and local governments to prioritize.

The most popular response for the second consecutive year was “subsidies for medical expenses” at 43 percent.

Other frequent responses were “improving elderly care services and rebuilding or expanding social welfare facilities” at 30 percent and “subsidies for monthly living expenses” at 28 percent.

The second most popular response last year was “financial support to rebuild own home.” This year that response came in fourth with 24 percent of respondents choosing it.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Incineration of radioactive waste begins at Fukushima nuclear plant

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has begun incinerating radioactively contaminated clothing and other waste on the grounds of the disaster-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in an effort to reduce the volume of waste.

A three-story incineration facility has been built on the north side of the plant grounds. Every day around 7,000 people work at the Fukushima plant, creating a massive amount of waste in the form of used radiation suits, gloves and boots. Pre-disaster incineration equipment was destroyed by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, which led to the construction of the new facility.

As of the end of last year some 70,000 metric tons of this kind of waste was being held in storage containers. TEPCO estimates that by the year 2028, 358,000 tons of such waste will have been produced, but claims it can reduce the volume of the waste to as little as about one-fiftieth of its original size by incinerating it.

Radioactive materials contained in the smoke from the incinerator will be removed by filters on the exhaust pipes. The resulting ash will be sealed in specialized barrels, and TEPCO says there will be little danger from radioactive exposure.

However, in addition to the aforementioned waste there were, as of July last year, around 83,000 tons of lumber from trees cut down to make way for tanks storing contaminated water and 155,000 tons of other waste such as power plant debris from the hydrogen explosions that occurred there. These additional kinds of waste are expected to grow to 695,000 tons by 2028, and will not be processed at the incineration facility.

While TEPCO plans to construct facilities to burn this lumber and to break down debris in the future, these are not expected to all be operational until around fiscal 2020.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan urges China to lift import ban on farm products in place since March 2011

BEIJING – Japan urged China on Monday to scrap its import restrictions on agricultural, forestry and fisheries products and food that have been in place since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Kazuyoshi Honkawa, vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, made the request at a bilateral subcabinet-level dialogue in Beijing on agricultural issues.

The two countries reopened the dialogue for the first time in six years, after suspending talks due to deteriorated bilateral ties.

After the nuclear disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, China prohibited all imports of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products and food from 10 prefectures, including Fukushima, Miyagi and Ibaraki.

Honkawa asked Chinese Vice Agriculture Minister Qu Dongyu to urge authorities to lift the import ban. The embargo is administered by China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Honkawa said he did not receive a clear answer on the issue from the Chinese ministry.

After the dialogue, he told reporters that the rapidly growing Chinese market is very attractive for Japanese agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries, suggesting his ministry’s aim of expanding farm exports to China.

Economic relations between Japan and China have been on the mend in recent months.

At talks last November, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang agreed to restart a high-level economic dialogue that brings together the two countries’ key economic officials at an early date this year. In December, Japan and China held economic partnership talks led by vice ministerial officials for the first time in more than five years.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Razing of wrecked homes lagging badly as Fukushima residents ponder return

The central government is covering the demolition costs for disaster-hit homes in Fukushima Prefecture, but 70 percent of the razing requests have not been completed.

The Environment Ministry plans to revise the procedures for handling demolition requests because the situation could further prevent residents from returning to the radiation-tainted areas.

As of Jan. 8, 5,780 applications — or over 70 percent of the 7,670 demolition requests — had not been processed.

Minamisoma aims to have the central government lift evacuation orders in most of the city this spring. But only 30 percent of the 2,600 houses earmarked for demolition have been razed, leaving 1,780 to go.

The town of Kawamata and the village of Katsurao also want evacuation orders lifted from April, but the razing is only 17 percent complete in Kawamata and 6 percent in Katsurao. Tamura and the village of Kawauchi have meanwhile torn down all homes earmarked for demolition.

The ministry says the time-consuming nature of the work is one reason for the backlog, since it involves confirming ownership, inspecting properties and calculating costs.

The central government has expanded the program to cover not only houses damaged by the quake and tsunami, but also those damaged by leaky roofs during the prolonged evacuation. This raised applications to a level officials can’t keep up with, the ministry said.

Evacuees are calling for speedier action. Tomoya Suzuki, 67, who fled the Odaka district of Minamisoma to the town of Shinchi further north, applied to have his house demolished last August. His application is still pending.

“I would like to go back to Odaka as soon as the evacuation orders are lifted, but I can’t rebuild my house unless it’s demolished,” he said.

The government has said it will lift evacuation orders in Minamisoma by March 2017.

“The central government has decided to lift evacuation orders when the living environment for the residents is not prepared yet,” he said. “I find that contradictory.”

The ministry says it cannot drastically increase manpower, and will deal with the glut by giving priority to those who wish to return.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

TEPCO refuses to reimburse ¥20.1 billion in claims from Tohoku



Out of ¥53.1 billion in expenses incurred by six prefectures in the Tohoku region in response to the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, TEPCO has still not agreed to reimburse ¥20.1 billion, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The prefectures have resorted or will resort to alternative dispute resolution (ADR) procedures to compel TEPCO to pay, but taxpayers may end up footing the bill in the end.

Different interpretations

Regarding compensation for damage caused by nuclear power plants, the government’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation released preliminary guidance in August 2011 on what expenses TEPCO should reimburse local governments for.

This included the cost of damage to water and sewer services contaminated by radioactive material, and the cost of supporting victims on TEPCO’s behalf.



However, the guidance included a section stating that “depending on circumstances, additional expenses may be recognized as damage that should be reimbursed.” This spurred Fukushima Prefecture, where the nuclear power plant is located, and other prefectures to request compensation from TEPCO for various expenses incurred in responding to the disaster.

Fukushima Prefecture has so far demanded ¥37.1 billion from TEPCO.

The company paid ¥20.9 billion for expenses including the relocation of a prefectural high school and support for the reopening of small and medium-sized businesses, but has refused to pay for the salaries of prefectural government employees of the contamination response section established after the disaster. It has also refused to pay for such costs as ad campaigns intended to repair the image of the tourism industry, which has been damaged by the nuclear disaster.

Neighboring Yamagata Prefecture, which accepted a large number of evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture, had requested ¥1.1 billion as of last September. It has received reimbursement for such things as radiation inspections of agricultural and livestock products and the salaries of additional teachers in response to the influx of evacuated children, but this figure is less than one-third of the total request.

Miyagi Prefecture has only reached agreement on roughly ¥1.7 billion, about half of its request. Last March, Yamagata and Miyagi prefectures appealed to the nation’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation for ADR. According to an official of Miyagi Prefecture, “the settlement will take some more time.”

Akita and Aomori prefectures have been denied 80 percent to 90 percent of their requests to cover expenses such as the production of ads to promote tourism and subsidies to purchase radiation measurement equipment. They have also applied for ADR, and Fukushima Prefecture intends to pursue this approach soon.

Iwate Prefecture has received an additional ¥256.7 million through ADR, but has not agreed on close to ¥900 million in other expenses yet.

The prefectural governments have made expenditures from their general budgets for the disaster response expenses, and explained to members of their assemblies that “expenses would be billed to TEPCO and offset as income at a later date.” However, as unsettled claims increase, the costs are becoming a burden on the prefectures.

Municipalities in the six Tohoku prefectures, as well as Chiba and Gunma prefectures and elsewhere outside Tohoku, have made similar compensation claims to TEPCO, but the two sides are far from agreement over payments.

A TEPCO spokesperson told The Yomiuri Shimbun: “We are processing and compensating claims for damage that meet the appraisal standards. For other expenses, we are making appropriate decisions as we consult with relevant parties about their circumstances.”

It is likely, however, that the different sides will fail to agree even through ADR.

The prefectures can fight on through civil lawsuits, but if they lose, both the legal expenses and disaster response expenses will have to be paid through taxpayer money

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment