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Chinese nuclear corporation decides not to get involved in UK’s dubious Hinkley nuclear project

text Hinkley cancelledflag-ChinaCGN Power’s dropped nuke deal in UK is a “sensible move”: analyst. Asian Power,  28 Mar 16   It would’ve locked up a bulk of capital in the long-term.

Last October, China signed a deal with the UK to participate in three UK nuclear power projects, with CGNPC, the parent of CGN Power, owning a 20.0%-66.5% stake in each of the projects.

Under a non-competition deed granted by CGNPC, CGN Power has the option of investing in any UK nuclear project that is either being planned or constructed by the parent group. Thus far, the independent non-executive directors of CGN Power have elected not to pursue the UK projects.

According to CCB International’s Cathy Chan and Felix Lam, the decision by CGN Power’s independent non-executive directors not to get involved in the construction of the UK nuclear projects did not come as a surprise given the company’s strategy of refraining from involving itself in nuclear power projects that do not have at least one unit already in commercial operation.

The UK project does not yet meet this criterion as it is still at the initial stage of development and has several major hurdles to negotiate, not least of which is insufficient funding from other stakeholders, in particular Électricité de France (EDF FP, NR), a French power  company…….. analyst http://asian-power.com/power-utility/news/cgn-powers-dropped-nuke-deal-in-uk-sensible-move-analyst

 

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April 1, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Further doubt on future of Hinkley Point nuclear project, as costs rise again

text Hinkley cancelledHinkley, No2NuclearPower, 31 March 2016

The cost of building a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset could rise by nearly £2 billion, piling more pressure on the over-stretched finances of the French energy giant EDF, according to a report seen by The Times. An independent analysis of the £18 billion project claims that Areva, the French company that developed the EPR reactor earmarked for Hinkley, is repricing the technology before a final investment decision, which it expects to be signed by EDF and its Chinese partners in May.
Michel Degryck, managing partner of the Paris-based corporate finance company Capitalmind and an expert on EDF who produced the report, said that Areva had in recent weeks been asking suppliers to resubmit detailed offers for key components of the Hinkley station. Mr Degryck said: “We understand that a number of costs were probably underestimated when they did their last pricing [of the reactor] in 2013. They will have to take into account new costs . . .
The cost of the project could rise by 10 per cent.” The updated price of the station could be as high as 25.3 billion euros (£19.8 billion), according to the research. The development casts further doubt on the future of the project, under which two new reactors to be built at Hinkley are set to generate 7 per cent of UK electricity once operational, probably in the late 2020s……….http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/news/31-march-2016/

April 1, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

By 2018 world must shift to zero carbon, to avoid extra dangerous global warming

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Shift to zero-carbon power must start by 2018 to avoid extra warming: study http://www.theage.com.au/environment/climate-change/shift-to-zerocarbon-power-must-start-by-2018-to-avoid-extra-warming-study-20160331-gnuy7x.html 
April 1, 2016  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald  The world must begin the shift to zero-carbon sources of electricity as soon as 2018 to avoid adding new fossil-fuel power plants that will lock in dangerous climate change, according to a team of Oxford University researchers.

Taking the average operating life of coal or gas-fired plants as 40 years, the world’s fleet of carbon-emitting power stations had already committed by 2014 a total of 87 per cent of the emissions required to ensure a 50-50 chance of reaching two degrees of warming compared with pre-industrial levels.

By 2017, the remaining stock of potential emissions will have been locked in, necessitating a transition to renewable or zero-emissions electricity from then on. Alternatively, radical technologies will be needed to sequester carbon dioxide or extract it from the atmosphere, the researchers including Australian Cameron Hepburn wrote in a paper published in Applied Energy journal.

“For policymakers who think of climate change as a long-term future issue, this should be a wake-up call,” the authors said in a statement. “Whether we succeed or fail in containing warming to 2 degrees is being determined by actions we are taking right now.”

The papers come in a week when environmental groups warned as many as 1500 coal-fired power plants are being planned or being built worldwide, scientists found coral bleaching in the Great Barrier Reef to be worse than first thought, and Antarctic ice sheets were declared to be melting faster than expected.

Electricity generation accounts for about one quarter of man-made greenhouse gas emissions and about one third of Australia’s total. The researchers assumed other emission sources, such as transport and agriculture, would track towards a 2-degree warming limit, an assumption “which may well be optimistic”, the paper notes.

Australia was one of almost 200 nations to sign up to limiting warming to a 1.5-2 degree range at the Paris climate summit late last year.

The lower end of that target has been well exceeded, the researchers argue: “Meeting a 1.5-degree target without [carbon capture and storage] or asset stranding would have required all additions to the electricity sector were zero carbon from 2006 onwards, at the latest”.

Malte Meinshausen, director of Melbourne University’s Climate & Energy College, said the research confirmed work by the International Energy Agency and others “that we now have enough fossil fuel infrastructure globally in place to emit a detrimental amount of carbon”.

“With the correct market signals in place – such as a price on carbon emissions – it will be more economical even for the utilities to abandon fossil fuel [plants] and switch to renewable investments instead,” Associate Professor Meinshausen said. “If the time for halting investments into new fossil fuel infrastructure is 2017 for the world, that time has been 10 years ago for Australia – the highest per-capita emitter in the developed world.”

As it happens, the combination of Australia’s flat or declining demand for grid-supplied electricity and the need to meet the mandated 2020 Renewable Energy Target (RET) means there is little likelihood of new coal or gas-fired power plants being built in this country for at least the next decade, said Dylan McConnell, a research fellow at Melbourne University’s Melbourne Energy Institute.

While there are several proposed gas projects and one black coal project in NSW at AGL’s Bayswater site, renewable energy ventures are likely to meet any near-term need for additional large-scale capacity, Mr McConnell said.

Some 14,000 megawatts (MW) of wind or solar plants are seeking approval, a tally that is “certainly much more than needed for the RET”, he said. “The cost curve for fossil fuel [plants] is going in the other direction.”

This week, Origin Energy  signed up for its first power purchase agreement for large-scale solar, taking output from a 56 MW solar farm in Moree in northern NSW.

“Ten years ago, 15 years ago the prospectors were in Queensland looking for [coal seam gas] resources,” Grant King, Origin’s chief executive, said last year. “I would think the next great round of investment in Queensland will be utility scale solar.”

Origin is among the prospectors, applying to the Australian Renewable Energy Agency for funding to support a 106 MW solar farm of its own to be built on the Darling Downs next to its existing gas-fired plant.

April 1, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Russia building new multiple-warhead missiles

boys-with-toysflag_RussiaRussia Doubling Nuclear Warheads New multiple-warhead missiles to break arms treaty limit, Washington Free Beacon, BY:  April 1, 2016  Russia is doubling the number of its strategic nuclear warheads on new missiles by deploying multiple reentry vehicles that have put Moscow over the limit set by the New START arms treaty, according to Pentagon officials.

A recent intelligence assessment of the Russian strategic warhead buildup shows that the increase is the result of the addition of multiple, independently targetable reentry vehicles, or MIRVs, on recently deployed road-mobile SS-27 and submarine-launched SS-N-32 missiles, said officials familiar with reports of the buildup.

“The Russians are doubling their warhead output,” said one official. “They will be exceeding the New START [arms treaty] levels because of MIRVing these new systems.”

The 2010 treaty requires the United States and Russia to reduce deployed warheads to 1,550 warheads by February 2018……..http://freebeacon.com/national-security/russia-doubling-nuclear-warheads/

April 1, 2016 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

British churches going for renewable energy

church greenHundreds of UK churches set to go green, switch to renewable energy-charities  LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – More than 400 churches in the United Kingdom plan to switch to clean energy providers for their light and heat, shifting spending of 1 million pounds ($1.4 million) to renewables from fossil fuels, two Christian charities said on Wednesday.

The move is part of the Big Church Switch, an initiative launched in February by charities Christian Aid and Tearfund, which urged UK churches and households to use clean sources of energy instead of carbon-emitting fossil fuels.

Their online platform connects those who sign up with energy experts, promising to find them the best renewable deal by negotiating with energy providers.

“As individuals and churches we have a choice in how we treat the earth, how we spend our money, how we power our homes and our buildings,” David Walker, the Anglican bishop of Manchester, said in a statement.

“By creating technology which can turn wind and sunshine into clean and renewable energy, humans continue to benefit from the gift of creation. Making the most of this bountiful harvest is a common sense way for us to roll back the ravages of climate change and ensure we are taking an active role in being part of the solution.”……..http://www.reuters.com/article/us-energy-renewables-church-idUSKCN0WW1QG

April 1, 2016 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Multiple rivers in Fukushima Prefecture have radioactive sediments

water-radiationflag-japanRadioactive sediment found in Fukushima rivers Zee News , April 1, 2016 – Tokyo: Japanese researchers have detected relatively high levels of radioactive substancesin sediment in multiple rivers running through Fukushima prefecture, the media reported on Friday.  The prefectural government in January surveyed the density of radioactive materials in soil and other sediment that has accumulated on the bottoms and banks of 72 rivers in the prefecture, public broadcaster NHK reported…..

The researchers found up to 54,500 becquerels per kg of radioactive substances in the Maeda river in Futaba town, where the plant is situated, and 39,600 becquerels in the Hiru river in Fukushima city. They also detected more than 10,000 becquerels at five other locations in four municipalities…….

The prefectural government plans to study restricting access to rivers with high concentrations of radioactive materials.

It also plans to urge the central government to remove contaminated soil and other sediment. http://zeenews.india.com/news/world/radioactive-sediment-found-in-fukushima-rivers_1871348.html

April 1, 2016 Posted by | environment, Japan | 1 Comment

China, USA, strike deals on climate and nuclear security

Despite disputes, U.S., China strike climate, nuclear deals , USA TODAY April 1, 2016 WASHINGTON — Despite ongoing disputes over cyber espionage, intellectual property, and the South China Sea, the United States and China struck deals Thursday on nuclear security and climate change.

The two nations agreed to sign the new global climate change agreement on April 22, the day it becomes operational; the agreement reached in Paris late last year calls on countries to develop plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“We’re committing to formally join it as soon as possible this year, and we urge other countries to do the same,” President Obama said before meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the bi-annual nuclear security summit.

As for that topic, the United States and China issued a joint statement pledging more cooperation on efforts to improve the storage and security of nuclear material in an effort to prevent nuclear terrorism………http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2016/03/31/obama-xi-jinping-china-climate-change/82483840/

April 1, 2016 Posted by | China, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Rural Indians’ lawsuit against coal power plant is dismissed by USA judge

U.S. judge nixes lawsuit against World Bank over power plant in India BY SEBASTIEN MALO  http://www.reuters.com/article/us-india-lawsuit-worldbank-idUSKCN0WW2H2  NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) 30 Mar 16  – A U.S. federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Indian fishermen and farmers who sued the World Bank over a loan for a power plant they claimed ravaged the environment.

The World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) is shielded by immunity and cannot be sued in the United States, the U.S. District Court judge ruled.

The IFC loaned $450 million to help build the coal-fueled Mundra power plant in India’s coastal region of Gujarat, which became fully operational in 2013.

The Indian company that carried out the project, Coastal Gujarat Power Limited, a subsidiary of Tata Power, said it would create jobs, benefit 16 million domestic consumers and provide competitively priced electricity to industry and agriculture.

But fishermen, farmers and others living near the plant said it took a huge toll on the environment.

Saltwater leaking from the plant made groundwater undrinkable and unfit for irrigation, hot water from the cooling system harmed the fish catch and air quality suffered, they said in the U.S. lawsuit filed last year in the District of Columbia.

Their way of life could be “fundamentally threatened or destroyed,” the complaint said, accusing the IFC of irresponsible and negligent conduct in financing and supervising its loan.

But U.S. District Court Judge John Bates in a ruling last week said under the International Organizations Immunities Act, the IFC is immune to prosecution in the United States.

The Indians plan to appeal, the U.S. nonprofit EarthRights International, which filed the lawsuit, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“This is a fight for our lives and livelihood,” Gajendrasinh Jadeja, head of Navinal Panchayat, a village that is a party in the case, said in an email.

“We believe we will prevail,” Jadeja said.

An IFC spokeswoman said the organization would not comment on active legal matters.

A plan being implemented by Coastal Gujarat Power, however, includes what she called “mitigation measures,” she said, but she did not elaborate.

The World Bank and IFC have come under criticism by groups that contend their focus on big projects can disrupt the environment and displace people.

The IFC, with 184 member countries, is the “largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries,” according to its website.

(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, land rights and climate change. Visit news.trust.org)

April 1, 2016 Posted by | India, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Renewable energy taking over – already

piggy-ban-renewablesHow green energy is already taking over the world, Independent Australia   31 March 2016 Investment in renewables galloped ahead of fossil fuels in 2015 with a majority of plants planned for developing countries. Professor Juan Cole reports.

IN 2015 energy companies invested more in new renewables power plants in 2015 than in fossil fuel plants for the first time in history. The majority of these plants were planned for the developing countries, which is a sign that the technology is viewed as now less expensive.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) press release said,

Coal and gas-fired electricity generation last year drew less than half the record investment made in solar, wind and other renewables capacity — one of several important firsts for green energy announced today in a UN-backed report. Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2016 . . . says the annual global investment in new renewables capacity, at $266 billion, was more than double the estimated $130 billion invested in coal and gas power station s in 2015.

All investments in renewables, including early-stage technology and R&D as well as spending on new capacity, totalled $286 billion in 2015, some 3% higher than the previous record in 2011. Since 2004, the world has invested $ 2.3 trillion in renewable energy (unadjusted for inflation). (All figures for renewables in this release include wind, solar, biomass and waste-to-energy, biofuels, geothermal, marine and small hydro, but exclude large hydro-electric projects of more than 50 megawatts).

Just as significantly, developing world investments in renewables topped those of developed nations for the first time in 20 15. Helped by further falls in generating costs per megawatt-hour, particularly in solar photovoltaics, renewables excluding large hydro made up 54% of added gigawatt (GW) capacity of all technologies last year. It marks the first time new installed renewables have topped the capacity added from all conventional technologies.

The 134 gigawatts of renewable power added worldwide in 2015 compares to 106GW in 2014 and 87GW in 2013. Were it not for renewables excluding large hydro, annual global CO2 emissions would have been an estimated 1.5 gigatonnes higher in 2015……….

https://independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/how-green-energy-is-already-taking-over-the-world,8830

April 1, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

 Lauren Kubiak: Report: Clean Energy Economy Employs More than 2.5 Million Americans, Poised for More Growth

green-collarMarch 30, 2016. More than 2.5 million Americans work in clean energy, according to a new study released yesterday from the national nonpartisan business group Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), an NRDC affiliate. These men and women install solar panels, manufacture electric vehicle parts, and retrofit our homes, schools and businesses to make them more energy efficient. They build wind turbine blades, invent battery technologies, and assemble the most energy-efficient appliances on the planet……

https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lauren-kubiak/report-clean-energy-economy-employs-more-25-million-americans-poised-more

April 1, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

China is building a national electricity grid

Super Grid 1

Like the US, China wants a national electricity grid. Unlike the US, China’s just building it. Vox,  by  on March 30, 2016,   Wind and sunlight are often concentrated in sparsely populated, remote areas. Getting wind and solar power to the population centers where it’s needed involves building long-distance power lines. Lots of them.

Earlier this week I wrote about a new long-distance power line in the US and the long, slow path it took to win approval. It was proposed in 2009; construction is expected to begin next year and finish in 2020. Like everything involving electricity in the US, it had to navigate a skein of overlapping jurisdictions, multiple state and local authorities, and federal rules. Every landowner and stakeholder had their say.

 So I chuckled when I ran across this Reuters headline yesterday: “China pushes for mandatory integration of renewable power.” That’s the other way to do it!

Like the US, China aspires to build a comprehensive national grid that can carry energy from where it’s generated to where it’s needed. Unlike the US, China isn’t forcing each piece of that system to go through a Byzantine series of bespoke processes and reviews. It’s just building, building, building like crazy.

China’s renewable energy is bottled up

China has the same problem the US does: Its most concentrated wind and sunlight are found in remote areas (in the north and west), distant from the populous industrial cities where the power is needed (in eastern coastal regions).

For years, the government has pushed a rapid buildout of renewable energy; the country now boasts the highest renewable energy growth rates and the most wind and solar capacity of any country in the world.

But now it has, at least temporarily, overbuilt. In those energy-dense regions, there is more wind and solar capacity than there is transmission to carry it. So a lot of that power is going unused.

 The energy-nerd term for power plants being cut back or shut down, even when they are capable of producing energy, is “curtailment.” Grid operators curtail the incoming flood of wind and solar energy when they don’t have the grid capacity to handle it……….

China’s transmission lines will be big, and hooking up wind and solar will be mandatory

Because everything is bigger in China, the country is not building mere high-voltage transmission lines, like those being built (slowly) in the US. It’s building ultra high-voltage (UHV) lines.

By way of comparison: The US Plains & Eastern Clean Line, the high-voltage direct-current line from Oklahoma to Tennessee I wrote about the other day, will run at about 600 kilovolts, give or take. UHV lines run at 800kV, even up to 1000kV.

Building a countrywide grid is one of the government’s top priorities. According to Reuters, “China currently has 17 UHV transmission lines in operation or under construction.”…………http://www.vox.com/2016/3/30/11332900/china-long-distance-transmission

April 1, 2016 Posted by | China, ENERGY, renewable | Leave a comment

Manga convey realities of living in Tohoku disaster areas

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Although words of praise poured in for Kazuto Tatsuta’s manga about the Fukushima nuclear disaster, some comments said he was a spy for Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The artist, who went to great lengths to show the true situation around TEPCO’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, scoffed at the notion.

“As for nuclear power generation, I have never taken stances of ‘promotion,’ ‘opposition’ or ‘neutral.’ I just wanted to convey the changes of the place (at the nuclear plant) in real time,” he said.

His manga series, “Ichiefu Fukushima Daiichi Genshiryoku Hatsudensho Rodoki” (1F; Records of labor at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant), was one of several that started after the triple disaster struck five years ago.

Some of them initially offered messages of encouragement to the disaster victims. But they gradually changed to depict the realities of the situation in the northeastern Tohoku region and the disaster victims’ extraordinary experiences.

Tatsuta’s series, carried in the weekly magazine Morning, was based around the sites of demolition work at the nuclear plant.

He was working at a company of an acquaintance near Tokyo when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011. Tatsuta looked for a job in areas affected by the disaster, and ended up working at a rest station of the nuclear plant as an employee of the sixth-layer subcontractor in June 2012.

In 2013, Tatsuta started “Ichiefu” to show the daily lives of workers at the plant.

His work drew much attention and acclaim. But some said the artist was underestimating the dangers of nuclear power generation. The series ended in October 2015.

Yoko Hano depicted the daily post-disaster lives of a different group–senior high school students in Fukushima Prefecture.

She started the serialized manga “Hajimari no Haru” (Spring as a beginning) because she also wanted to convey the truth. The comic is currently carried under the title of “Happy End?” in the Monthly Afternoon magazine.

Hano, who is from Nishigo in Fukushima Prefecture, now lives in Shirakawa, also in the prefecture.

“From the time immediately after the outbreak of the disaster, I saw false information from the media that was slipshod in confirming facts,” she said. “A person in my neighborhood was cornered by the situation caused by the disaster and committed suicide. I thought that unless accurate information is offered, our local communities will be destroyed.”

The protagonists in her manga learn about agriculture. They vow to reconstruct their hometowns and start taking action despite being shaken by nuclear accident.

“Here (in Fukushima Prefecture), there are many themes I should tackle throughout my life. I think that people who are making a living with jobs related to expression and speech should migrate to Fukushima,” Hano said.

In the serialized manga “Gogai! Iwate Chaguchagu Shinbunsha” (Extra edition! Iwate Chaguchagu newspaper company), the protagonist is a female reporter with a local newspaper in Iwate Prefecture.

Its creator, Aruto Asuka, who lives in Ichinoseki in the prefecture, began to carry the manga in the comic magazine Be Love, published twice a month, in 2009. Initially, it focused on the people, seasonal traditions and industries of the prefecture.

Then, the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami struck in 2011.

The manga now features the reality of the prefecture that was hit hard by the disaster.

Ichinoseki, an inland area, escaped serious damage. However, “that produced big conflicted feelings in my mind,” Asuka recalled.

In a special edition titled “Sanriku no Umi” (Sea of Sanriku), which was carried in the third volume of the book version of the manga, the protagonist visits the coastal district of Koishihama in Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture, for news coverage, and meets a young fisherman and his wife again.

The wife is pregnant but hesitant to give birth because of her feelings for a relative who lost her child and other family members in the disaster.

“I also have feelings of guilt about the fact that I am alive without suffering from any damage,” Asuka said. “I will not forget the various feelings of people (in the affected areas).”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604010061.html

 

April 1, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Global electricity network – China’s plan

China Unveils Proposal for $50 Trillion Global Electricity Network

BEIJING — China has unveiled a proposal for a $50 trillion global electricity network that would help fight pollution and the effects of climate change.

The plan envisions linking existing and future solar farms, wind turbines and electricity plants in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas, according to the head of State Grid Corporation of China.

The proposal is in its initial stages and would require huge investment from around the world. If it goes ahead, it would be the world’s largest infrastructure project. It could be operational by 2050, according to backers.http://www.nbcnews.com/business/energy/china-unveils-proposal-50-trillion-global-electricity-network-n548376

 

China eyes export opportunities for global super grid BEIJING, March 31. China’s biggest power transmission company has signed deals with three Asia-Pacific investors to help push its ambition to build a cross-border energy super grid that will help combat climate change, integrate renewable energy sources and boost exports.

http://in.reuters.com/article/china-power-grid-idINL3N173205
R** China’s State Grid envisions $65 trillion world power network
Could a global network be the world’s best bet for overcoming resource scarcity, pollution and climate change?
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/wall-street-journal/chinas-state-grid-envisions-65-trillion-world-power-network/news-story/385fc93c6fb9aa3236505a44f1be66d1

 

April 1, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, China, ENERGY, renewable | Leave a comment

Isolated French Island Becoming a Nuclear Monitoring Outpost (VIDEO)

see-this.way An anti-nuclear test agency installs a key part of a hydroacoustic monitoring system on the remote French-administered Crozet Islands. http://www.scientificamerican.com/video/isolated-french-island-becoming-a-nuclear-monitoring-outpost/

April 1, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Tainted Fukushima towns stuck in time as decon crews plug away

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Police and security officers keep watch along National Route 6 leading to the off-limits zone in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture, on March 9

FUKUSHIMA – Five years after the nuclear disaster triggered by the huge earthquake and tsunami, reconstruction has made little progress in parts of Fukushima Prefecture. A Kyodo News reporter drove National Route 6 northward to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant to witness the lingering effects of the calamity.

In the town of Hirono, in the southeast, many shops and buildings remain empty. North of Hirono is the town of Naraha, most of which lies within the 20-km-radius hot zone around Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s radiation-leaking power plant.

The nuclear disaster forced Hirono to move its operations to other municipalities in the prefecture, while Naraha was designated an evacuation zone.

Now the towns have a radiation level below 1 millisievert per year — a level the government is trying to achieve in other areas via decontamination — and residence restrictions and evacuation orders have been lifted, with Hirono’s town office returning to its original place.

However, many residents are reluctant to go back to their homes. So far only 48 percent of Hirono’s population and 6 percent of Naraha’s have returned.

Yet hotels and other lodgings were busy accommodating out-of-prefecture workers seeking decontamination and construction work. All 275 rooms at a hotel in Hirono built for the reconstruction support scheme three years ago are “almost fully reserved for the next month,” the front desk clerk said.

A worker in his 50s who came from Tokyo to oversee decontamination work said he earns more than ¥16,000 ($145) per day. Another man staying at the hotel said he was on a three-week contract and received ¥25,000 a day. Their lodging was paid for by their employers.

At night, there was only one pub open in Hirono.

“The shopping area is deserted, although schools have resumed,” said a woman who works there. Still, the pub was full, mainly with visitors not from Fukushima.

In Tomioka, parts of which are still designated as in the “difficult to return” zone, most retail buildings on both sides of the main road have been abandoned and are decaying. Bags of contaminated soil sit piled up near the shore — now a huge makeshift storage site.

In a similar zone in the town of Okuma, which co-hosts the plant, three men in white protective suits were conducting decontamination in a field under a cloud of dust.

Nearby, a large boar suddenly crossed the road.

Soon after the nuclear disaster struck five years ago, untended cows and dogs were seen wandering around looking for food, but now boars are a frequent site, local people say.

In a residential part of Okuma, quake-damaged roads have been fixed but houses are being left as they are. The only sounds are chirping birds and the wind.

At a railway station, radiation over 10 microsieverts per hour is detected just above a covered drain. Although radiation in the “difficult to return” zones in Okuma and neighboring Futaba — the two towns hosting the nuclear plant — is much lower than it was immediately after the meltdowns, there are many hot spots measuring over 5 microsieverts — dozens of times higher than the government’s goal.

A Futaba resident who was showing the area to foreign journalists said, “The word ‘reconstruction’ has no relevance to this town.”

In Minamisoma — farther north of the Fukushima No. 1 complex — some areas are still designated as restricted residential zones.

“The number of jobs, such as decontamination work, has increased, but most of them are taken by people coming from outside the prefecture. We can hardly say this place has been enlivened again,” said Masayoshi Kariura, a Catholic priest.

“The pileup of contaminated soil that is clearly visible is weighing heavily on the residents,” he said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/01/national/tainted-fukushima-towns-stuck-time-decon-crews-plug-away/

April 1, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment