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Fukushima+5, Part 7. These women are pissed.

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The post-Fukushima period is generating oceans of data, but much of it is useless. These women generate their own, but also want more solid data than the government has been willing to provide.

By Mary Olson

Don’t get me wrong: These women are pissed! (My word not theirs.) And they have every right to express that, even in Japan, at least according to its constitution.

I cannot leave Japan without peeling back the layer of sticky rice and sweet bean paste that keeps the victims of Tepco’s iodine, cesium and strontium on their feet.

One woman from Fukushima, who I met in Kyoto, said to me: “I am not as good as a guinea pig! They take tests from a guinea pig, but they don’t even test me.” She has thyroid cancer. There is a bias, since Chernobyl, toward focusing on thyroid cancer in children as a radiation impact. This is in part since they have less of a prior history of exposures, but in fact, radioactive iodine can cause cancer in people of any age.

This woman is asking to be studied.  For me there are long and interesting questions about the moral and ethical basis of studying any victim…but this woman wants data. The post-Fukushima period is generating oceans of data, but much of it is useless, either for a study, or for the victims. This woman tells me that readings from a “full-body count” measuring Becquerels in her body, taken at an evacuation center in 2011 was destroyed after two years. She cannot get it. It is gone. She is more than pissed.

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Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen dubbed this sort of urban particulate “Dark Matter” and often found that it contains radioactive particles. It’s not clear if these were directly deposited by a plume from the Fukushima meltdown or were perhaps released by post-tsunami incineration of debris.

I feel (or maybe project) other women would explode if they could, but they hold it together for their children.

This is the “triple bind” created by Tepco’s allies in the Japanese federal and (most) state governments:

First: One’s entire life is disrupted by radioactive contamination; any official support comes through cooperation;

Second: One’s children (and some Mamas) are having symptoms of radiation impact but the doctors are told* not to identify radiation in any diagnosis;

Third: The official message from over 400 government-paid Post-Tepco Meltdown staff psychologists is: the only harm to the children will come from the mother’s anxiety about radiation, which is unfounded, and results in stress to her and her family. Stress is bad.

This last point we can all agree on, but the word “stress”, has been appropriated by the “There is No Problem, the Radiation is Safe” story line. Now “stress” means a mother who is no longer cooperative with a government that would require her to move home to Fukushima Prefecture and support the use of local foods in the school lunch program, or face personal condemnation. There is no one to buy her home if she chooses not to.

This makes it a quadruple bind.

I support these Mamas by carefully, and slowly, stating, at each speaking event that if I were a mother I would leave contaminated zones and take my children with me. This does not touch, however, the incredible pressure on them from all sides to conform to the official line; talk about stress!

At one last Tokyo “Mama Meeting” or “tea party” as we have called the sessions with women concerned about radiation, these Mamas are not refugees. They are women monitoring hot spots here in Tokyo.

One woman has four children who bop in and out, cared for on the side. This mom is not at all happy with me, or maybe anyone from the U.S., having anything to say about her situation. I quickly shift to listen-mode and agree with her often. Another mom is much younger. She has done quite a bit of reading and has decided that internal emitters from food contamination are her big concern. I agree with her too. Another mom is interested in learning how to clean up hot spots…and has produced detailed maps with photos of her detector reading as high as 126 millirems per hour on hot spots at a park in Tokyo. Her readings in the same area were repeated over many months.

This group seems more engaged and active than any other Mama Tea Party group I have met with. The feeling fits with the large NGO events that I am doing at the end of this trip. The same day as the Tea Party I went on to the National Diet Building to speak at a large (and lively) event hosted by the Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center, which covered it here.

During this tea party it slowly begins to dawn on me that the bottom of pretty much the entire Japanese food chain is aquatic. I have a dim memory of hearing decades ago, when a U.S. fast-food chain selling fried chicken opened in Japan for the first time, it did not pass the “quality” check done by the chain’s U.S. corporate executives. The chicken tasted like fish. The eggs I have been eating for the past 2 weeks in Tokyo also taste, faintly, of fish. I share this with the Mama concerned about food. Color drains from her face. It is overwhelming to think of meats, dairy and eggs being at risk from possible radioactive sea-water contamination. She says “It makes me tired.” I say “yeah, especially when you factor in fish-fertilizer and all the soy products.”

So, in the end, we know, we all live in Fukushima…

My last day in Japan I was thinking about the old adage that Crisis = Opportunity. Years ago (1999), I traveled to Australia to help fight a global nuclear waste dump called the “Pangea Project” that was targeting Australia for all the world’s irradiated fuel rods. Over breakfast in Perth, in the home of a Green Party member of the Australian Parliament, I ventured an opinion: “The Pangea Project is an existential threat to your nation. You should work for a Constitutional Amendment to ban international waste from entering your waters or your land.” I was truly shocked, as a naive American, to hear the reply: “Australia does not have a constitution.” Unfortunately this ugly global dump threat has reared its head, targeting Australia again. (NIRS Action Alert coming soon!)

Here, now, in Japan, once again, in my view: this nation is facing an existential threat from radioactivity. So, I ask Steve Leeper, one of my hosts, “Does Japan have a constitution?” Steve explains that it does, the Peace Constitution, written post-WWII, by an American woman (under the aegis of a famous US General.). Established in 1947, under U.S. Occupation.

As I scan the Constitution of Japan, it is amazing how detailed it is in enunciating the rights of individuals…though ‘Free Speech’ appears as Article 21, not “first amendment.” I have often felt in these past weeks a common thread between my Japanese friends and my friends back home, south of the Mason/Dixon Line. It hits me: they are both warrior people who fought hard and had to accept defeat. From the same victor: Yankees.

Freedom cannot be given. It must be taken. I sincerely hope that the Mama’s rise, peacefully, to claim the provisions of this constitution (or a new one) for themselves, their children, and all of Japan.

BIG CRISIS = BIG OPPORTUNITY.

*Medical suppression: I heard first-hand accounts from three physicians. One at a prestigious clinic refused to take the “hint” that he should not mention radiation in his diagnoses of patients and had his hospital privileges revoked. Two other women doctors in private practice are persevering in their care for all their patients, including those with symptoms clearly from radiation exposure. One of them openly calls their medical association as “sell-outs” to the “nuclear mafia.” I met these doctors, but I am not “naming these names…” and that is a comment too.

Japan Diary 2016, Fukushima+5, Part 7. These women are pissed.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 4 Comments

Health Situation in Fukushima – Arnie Gundersen

Excerpt 1

Arnie Gundersen: “I’ve been reflecting a lot over the last week and a half about what the trip meant to me personally and what I learned… The first thing is [the people are] terribly concerned about their country and concerned about their children… The second thing is the inhumanity of the Japanese government, the Japanese utilities and the Japanese banks toward their own population. I’m just appalled at how the power structure in Japan is ignoring what its people want and basically ramming nukes down the throat of their population… I think [the media sources in Japan] still feel pressure under that State Secrets Act. Nobody wants to push too hard against [Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s] administration. As a matter of fact, one of Abe’s prime key ministers came out and said twice now that if… the media doesn’t say what the administration wants them to say, they’re going to pull their licenses.”

Excerpt 2

Arnie Gundersen: “The one thing I learned when I was in the resettlement communities [of people evacuated due to the Fukushima nuclear crisis] is that they’ve all been told that there will be no resettlement communities by the time the Olympics start. The plan is to move people back into their homes in the contaminated areas, or to move them somewhere else in Japan to permanent homes”… (Maggie Gundersen, founded of Fairewinds Energy Education:) “I was devastated when I saw some of the pictures that you took in Japan… these temporary housings just look like military barracks on bare pavement… And now to hide the radiation, extensive radiation, that’s there and re-depositing in the already cleaned areas from snowmelt, flooding, and rain — and to say it’s okay and send everyone back is a death sentence to all these families and children and grandchildren.”

Excerpt 3

Arnie Gundersen: Yeah, let me get back to the first thing I said about the inhumanity toward their own people. We had doctors tell us when they treated somebody for radiation illness, if they put radiation illness on the hospital forms, the government refused to pay. So doctors were literally going out of business because they were doing their job and treating people. But the other thing I learned on the last day of the trip was that there’s a huge spike in the death rates within Fukushima Prefecture for young children compared to what it was in previous years. But that story has been stifled by the Japanese medical and government agencies. Nobody’s publishing the data that the Japanese have been publishing for years leading up to the disaster. So where are the death data on Fukushima Prefecture? And the answer is it hasn’t been published because the Japanese government doesn’t want it out there. When you control the medical community, the epidemiological data that you need to prove a case is really, really difficult. I think Fairewinds did a good job in the time we were over there getting sample data with a group of scientists that may affect the way the world looks at the disaster. But the other half of that is, you’ve got to get the doctors on board to report honestly what they’re seeing. And the medical community is even more under the thumb of the Abe regime than is the press. It’s very depressing.” … (Maggie Gundersen:) “I want to let you know that Arnie and other scientists are working on some really significant studies from samples that scientists have taken in Japan… Fairewinds will be participating in a report that will be issued on this and we will keep you up to date. It takes time to do this testing, but as soon as it’s ready, it will be publicized.”

 

 

http://www.fairewinds.org/podcast//put-on-a-happy-face-japan-speaking-tour-series-no-4-1

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | 1 Comment

Court rejects appeal to halt operations of Sendai reactors

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Lawyers hold up signs describing the April 6 ruling by the Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court as being unjust.

MIYAZAKI–A high court here rejected an appeal by Kyushu residents seeking to shut down the only two nuclear reactors operating in Japan, ruling that it is impossible to secure absolute safety with nuclear energy.

Presiding Judge Tomoichiro Nishikawa of the Miyazaki branch of the Fukuoka High Court said April 6 that current science and technology standards cannot reach a level of safety in which no radioactive materials are emitted regardless of the severity of the accident at a nuclear plant.

“A judgment has to be made based on the standard of what level of danger a society would be willing to live with,” Nishikawa said.

The court did not set any danger level, but it did rule that there was no convincing reason to issue a temporary injunction against the operations of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors of the Sendai plant run by Kyushu Electric Power Co. in Satsuma-Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, in southern Japan.

The plaintiffs argued that the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s new safety standards, established after the disaster unfolded at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 2011, underestimated possible damage to the plant caused by a powerful earthquake.

Nishikawa dismissed the argument, saying the standards “were at an extremely high level of rationality because it was needed to secure safety.”

Nishikawa, however, did describe as “irrational” the NRA’s assessment of volcanic eruption risk near the Sendai nuclear plant. That assessment was preconditioned on predicting the timing and scale of volcanic activity that would cause extensive damage to a wide area.

But the judge added that there was no basis for believing that such an eruption might occur while the plant was in operation. He concluded that “a political decision” would have to be made about whether to consider the risks related to such eruptions.

The plaintiffs, from the three Kyushu prefectures of Kagoshima, Kumamoto and Miyazaki, are considering appealing the latest ruling to the Supreme Court.

Kyushu Electric Power issued a statement on April 6 that said the ruling acknowledged the company’s past arguments that safety of the plant had been secured.

Setting a standard for an acceptable danger level could untangle the differing court decisions on the operations of nuclear reactors.

In March, for example, the Otsu District Court raised doubts about the NRA’s safety standards and ordered an injunction against two reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture in central Japan.

The lawsuit for an injunction against the Sendai plant was filed with the Kagoshima District Court in May 2014.

The district court rejected the plaintiffs’ request in April 2015. A few months later, in August, the No. 1 reactor at the Sendai plant became the first in Japan to resume operations under the new safety standards. The No. 2 reactor was restarted in October.

A major point of contention in the lawsuit was Kyushu Electric Power’s estimate of the largest possible quake that could hit the Sendai plant.

The plaintiffs argued that the utility’s figure, based on an average of past quakes, was defective because it underestimated the potential of possible future quakes. The residents also said their rights would be violated if a major accident occurred at the Sendai plant.

Kyushu Electric Power countered that its estimate was based on the new safety standards that reflected the latest knowledge about earthquakes.

The company said there was no specific danger of a major accident at the plant because the anti-quake measures implemented were sufficient.

The plaintiffs had also cited problems with the evacuation plans for the Sendai plant that could endanger their human rights.

But Nishikawa pointed to the approval given by the Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Commission to the evacuation plan, which was described as specific and rational because it laid out measures according to distance from the nuclear plant.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604060045.html

 

 

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Freezing of soil near Fukushima plant going well, says TEPCO

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Rainwater is discharged from newly constructed drainage outlets into the plant’s harbor during a media tour at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on April 4.

The freezing of soil around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to block the flow of groundwater is proceeding “largely smoothly,” the plant operator said April 4.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. started making a frozen underground wall in late March around the No. 1 to No. 4 reactors at the plant, which suffered a triple meltdown triggered by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The final part of the construction process to freeze the soil was unveiled to the media for the first time April 4 during a visit to the site by Yosuke Takagi, state minister of the economy.

To build the frozen soil wall to prevent groundwater flowing into the four reactor buildings and becoming contaminated with radioactive substances, the utility inserted 1,568 pipes to a depth of 30 meters and 1 meter apart.

The company is now circulating liquid with a temperature of minus 30 degrees through the pipes to first freeze the soil on the side of the sea so as not to drastically change the groundwater level at the plant.

As of April 4, the soil temperature had dropped to minus 4 to 6 degrees at some locations, according to TEPCO.

“While we need to keep making efforts to control the temperature deliberately, we can say that the project is proceeding largely smoothly so far,” the company spokesman said.

The utility also unveiled new drainage outlets for the K drainage channel to discharge water into the plant’s harbor and block it from being released into the outer ocean.

The construction of the new outlets was completed March 28. Radiation-contaminated rainwater coming through the K drainage channel had previously often flown into the outer ocean when it rained.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604050046.html

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

GroundTruth Films: Fukushima Diary

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Signs covering Fukushima Station are a distraction from the fact that 100,000 people are still displaced in the Prefecture.

Burn clothes: Wear ‘em, toss ‘em. That’s the spirit in which Beth Balaban and I packed for our final filming trip to Fukushima for Son of Saichi. We also brought burn pillows, burn shoes, burn socks, burn slippers, burn blow up mattresses… Safe to say, nothing in our suitcases is coming home with us.

On our previous three trips we’ve stayed outside the evacuated contamination zone, traveling in and out for brief periods daily. This time we’re staying inside Yamakiya, a village evacuated after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant meltdown five years ago. And even though radiation levels here aren’t of the sci-fi-turn-your-skin-neon-green variety, scientists we’ve talked to admit that even after being part of the nation’s $10 billion clean-up effort, it’s still not a place they’d want to live.

Yamakiya’s evacuation didn’t come right away after the March 2011 disaster. It came a few months later when prevailing winds and seasonal rainfall took a toxic road trip, traveling like the Shinkansen over hills and valleys, and along Rte. 114 past the home of Hidekazu Ouichi, a lifelong farmer and son of Saichi, a Hiroshima survivor.

We’re here now because Hidekazu got word from the government late last year that he could – finally – move back home April 1st. But when he picked us up from the Fukushima train station, we found out the government has changed its mind again about lifting the evacuation orders. No, they now say, he can’t move back until September.

He’s moving back anyway. Another 31 families are, too. (Most former residents are rejecting any offer to live here.)

On the 30-minute drive to Yamakiya, I realize I’m more worried about what’s measured in pixels and decibels than becquerels or microsieverts. There’s a television screen embedded in the dashboard of Hidekazu’s new Toyota, and Japan’s national obsession – cute, quirky mascots – are on full display. Eyes on the road, Hidekazu!

 

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Now that he’s home, Hidekazu finds it hard to break his lifelong habits and those of his ancestors. The family farm has always been land to live off, always a place of sustenance, and it’s difficult for him to see it any other way.

That’s why we’re not surprised when he opens the freezer to show us feet from a wild boar he and his friends caught in the backyard. A ghost town for the past five years, this area became overrun with wild animals – especially boar which Hidekazu says have gotten so used to gallivanting around town that “they roam freely inside abandoned houses, and come right up like a dog and wag their tails at you.”

 

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The boar pre-freezer.

The bad news is that wild boar – tasty as their feet might be – eat mushrooms which are among the most contaminated plants in Yamakiya’s forest. Cesium builds up inside the body of boars because of it. When Hidekazu tested this boar to see just how radiated it was, he measured 12,000 becquerels. (One becquerel is defined as the decay of one atom of a radioisotope per second. So if your Geiger counter detects the radiation of one decay coming from a sample – say, a boar – in one second, then that sample has one becquerel of radiation.) 12,000 becquerels is astronomically higher than the 500 allowed by the government.

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Crew member and animator Christian Schlaeffer puts his Geiger counter to the frozen boar feet.

 

Hidekazu offered to cook the feet up for us for dinner. We politely declined.

Oh, who am I kidding? We told him he was crazy and there wasn’t a chance in hell we’d eat it, and neither should he! But if our previous trips have told us anything, it’s that Hidekazu will eventually convince us to eat or drink something that will surprise us and amuse him. I suspect it’s just a matter of time before the killer bee liquor comes out of the cabinet.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/beth-murphy/groundtruth-films-fukushi_b_9605966.html

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

Fukushima Animation Makes Debut

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

150 Fukushima No. 1 workers who got maximum radiation dose at start of crisis can now return to plant

Some 150 people who worked at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant whose cumulative radiation dose exceeded 100 millisieverts will be able to return to the facility starting April 1.

By law, nuclear plant operators are required to record and manage the radiation exposure of each worker over a five-year term to ensure their dosage doesn’t exceed safe limits.

According to Tokyo Electric Power Co., 150 Tepco workers and 24 subcontractor workers who dealt with the meltdown disaster that occurred right after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami were exposed to radiation exceeding the limit. As of March 1, 129 of the Tepco employees were still working at the utility. They were moved to other divisions based on the government directive.

Since the five-year term for the workers ended in March, Tepco said it hopes experienced hands will return to engage in the decommissioning of the plant to contribute to safety at the site.

But Tepco said it will not push them to return and said those who wish to go back will be managed under a new exposure regime designed to limit a worker’s lifetime radiation dosage to 1,000 millisieverts in line with recommendations made by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

Last year, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare created the new regime, which requires nuclear plant operators to set individual limits for workers based on their age and past exposure to radiation.

150 Fukushima No. 1 workers who got maximum radiation dose at start of crisis can now return to plant

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear confidence trick: the ‘swap’ of UK’s nuclear wastes for ‘medical isotopes’

This transfer of wastes to USA is such a con job. It’s portrayed as a “win win”. What a lie!

First of all, medical radioisotopes can be obtained without use of nuclear reactor, as Canada is now doing. By use of non nuclear cyclotrons – linear accelerators, these radioisotopes (most being very short-lived) can be made close to the point of use – a much more practical system.

text Medical isotope production

Second, the whole transport idea is bizarrely unsafe – passing through or over communities, waterways – risk of accident, of terrorism.

Thirdly, it is madness to set up this “exchange” plan, in order to prolong this noxious industry, and with that silly figleaf of nuclear medicine tacked on top of it. Blind Freddy could see that the number one priority is to stop making radioactive trash

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Christina's notes | 2 Comments

UK sending nuclear wastes to America – dangerous and unwise

In such circumstances it becomes tempting to look for short cuts. One occasionally raised is to put all the world’s problematic waste somewhere very remote like the west Australian desert. This is a non-starter. The Czech and Slovak experience illustrated this. As a single country they planned a single repository, but after their “velvet divorce” each insisted it would not permanently manage the other’s waste. Such an international solution also contradicts the aforementioned issue of being responsible for your own legacy.

The other major hope is that science will find a convincing way either to use waste as fuel for reactors, and/or that “partitioning and transmutation” would drastically reduce the half-lives of the relevant isotopes. Yet these approaches are complex and expensive, involving molten salt reactors or accelerator-driven systems. And critically, there would still be some volume of long-lived waste that needed to be managed – no method can yet promise to drastically reduce the half-lives of all the different waste types. The only credible way forward is deep burial.

Airplane dangerBritain is sending a huge nuclear waste consignment to America – why?, The Conversation, , April 5, 2016 “……..The vast majority of the UK’s waste comes from its fleet of nuclear power stations. Most of it is stored at the Sellafield site in north-west England. But the material being sent to the US is a particularly high (weapons usable) grade of enriched uranium that you wouldn’t want to move to Sellafield from its current location at Dounreay in the north of Scotland without building a new storage facility – presumably more expensive than the cost of transportation.

The decision to move this radioactive waste out of the UK has been presented as making it harder for nuclear materials to get into the hands of terrorists, but this is implausible. The UK is capable of managing homegrown highly enriched uranium itself. The plan also contradicts the principle that countries are responsible for managing their own nuclear legacy…….

we are talking about substances which could harm human health for tens of thousands of years into the future. It raises profound ethical issues of equity between generations.

Deep burial

The scientific community does in fact agree on how to dispose of these materials safely: deep underground in appropriate geology such as clay or granite, with well engineered radiation barriers as an extra defence. Yet only Sweden and Finland, with political systems built on more trust and consensus than most countries, have a clear repository plan – and it will be several years before they become operational.

Most of the storage facilities at Sellafield are designed to last mere decades. The UK has been sporadically focused on deep disposal since the early 1980s, but for a long time approached it top-down and secretively. This became known as the “DAD” method – decide, announce, defend. But it has always led to “abandon” when local communities, having had no part in the siting decision, have rebelled successfully.

It was not until 2008 that the government introduced a system of rules under which local communities would conditionally volunteer a site and then negotiate a deal with the authorities. So far it has produced no result: attempts by district councils around Sellafield to volunteer it were overruled in 2013 by Cumbria county council, the local-authority tier above them, and no other communities have come forward. The government has reserved the right to override the voluntary process but shows no sign of doing so yet.

In such circumstances it becomes tempting to look for short cuts. One occasionally raised is to put all the world’s problematic waste somewhere very remote like the west Australian desert. This is a non-starter. The Czech and Slovak experience illustrated this. As a single country they planned a single repository, but after their “velvet divorce” each insisted it would not permanently manage the other’s waste. Such an international solution also contradicts the aforementioned issue of being responsible for your own legacy.

The other major hope is that science will find a convincing way either to use waste as fuel for reactors, and/or that “partitioning and transmutation” would drastically reduce the half-lives of the relevant isotopes. Yet these approaches are complex and expensive, involving molten salt reactors or accelerator-driven systems. And critically, there would still be some volume of long-lived waste that needed to be managed – no method can yet promise to drastically reduce the half-lives of all the different waste types. The only credible way forward is deep burial…….. https://theconversation.com/britain-is-sending-a-huge-nuclear-waste-consignment-to-america-why-57074

April 6, 2016 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Eurasian conflicts undermine nuclear security

safety-symbol-SmFrozen Conflicts Undermine Nuclear Security http://www.eurasianet.org/node/78126
April 5, 2016 , by Richard Weitz  
The renewal of armed conflict between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave can potentially have global ramifications, participants at the recent nuclear security summit in Washington cautioned.

A concern articulated in national progress reports prepared for the March 31-April 1 summit by several Eurasian governments was how corrosive the region’s ethnic and border disputes are to global nuclear security. The chaotic conditions that accompany such conflicts can make it easier for terrorists and criminal groups to get their hands on, and transport, nuclear or radioactive materials that can subsequently be used in a terror operation.

The most alarming report came from Ukraine, which stated that “Russian military aggression in eastern Ukraine and … [the illegal annexation of] Crimea pose new threats to the national system of nuclear and radiation security.” Such threats include the possibility of sabotage at nuclear facilities, the loss of regulatory authority over radioactive waste storage sites, and degraded border security and social stability.

Warning that this situation “may lead to dire consequences not only for Ukraine, but for many European nations,” Ukrainian authorities called for “establishing international control over nuclear facilities that can be seized or damaged as a result of military actions.”

Azerbaijan’s report likewise observed that the unresolved Karabakh conflict means that “Azerbaijan is unable to provide proper border control along the substantial part of its borders.”

The nuclear security summit had a global scope, but Eurasia was one of the focus areas of the event. The presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine all attended the gathering.

The fighting in Karabakh erupted just hours after Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan and his Azerbaijani counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, each met separately with US Vice President Joe Biden on the margins of the summit. In identical language describing each meeting, Biden cautioned both presidents about the need for restraint.

“Addressing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Vice President expressed concern about continued violence, called for dialogue, and emphasized the importance of a comprehensive settlement for the long-term stability, security, and prosperity of the region,” a White House press release stated.

Although representatives of Moldova were not at the summit, there have been reports of alleged Russian-linked smugglers attempting to exploit governance lapses and security gaps connected with the country’s separatist region of Transnistria to try to sell nuclear materials to suspected terrorist organizations. Elsewhere, Georgia’s breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have also been associated with reports of nuclear smuggling attempts.

Russian government has provided technical and financial assistance to fellow members of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Eurasian Economic Union to help address nuclear security threats. Despite supplying such assistance, Russian officials boycotted the Washington meeting and demanded an end to the summits, which have met every other year since 2010.

Editor’s note:

Richard Weitz is Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at Hudson Institute.

April 6, 2016 Posted by | ASIA, safety | Leave a comment

The global ‘Panama Papers’ financial corruption scandal

13a47-corruptionPanama Papers: Mossack Fonseca labels leak a ‘crime and attack’The revelation of the Panama Papers detailing the off-shore structures of many wealthy clients is a “crime” and an “attack” on Panama, the law firm at the heart of the scandal has said.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-04/mossack-foncesa-says-panama-papers-a-crime-and-attack/7296858

Panama Papers: FIFA officials, Lionel Messi, Michel Platini named in secret offshore files Disgraced FIFA officials, suspended UEFA chief Michel Platini and Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi were amongst the names found the Panama Papers — leaked documents which reveal offshore financial dealings of the world’s rich and famous.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-04/fifa-officials-and-lionel-messi-named-in-offshore-files/7296140

Panama Papers leak: Australian security company Wilson linked to Hong Kong corruption scandalLeaked documents have revealed that two brothers embroiled in a massive Hong Kong corruption scandal were ultimately in control of an Australian security company that earned roughly half a billion dollars in lucrative government contracts.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-04/australian-company-wilson-linked-to-hong-kong-corruption-scandal/7291178

Panama Papers: Tax office investigating 800 Australians identified in financial record leak The Australian Tax Office (ATO) is investigating 800 Australian residents named in a massive leak of tax and financial records known as the Panama Papers. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-04/tax-office-investigating-800-australians-in-panama-papers-leak/7296512

Panama Papers: Iceland PM Gunnlaugsson urged to resign amid Mossack Fonseca data leak By International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and ABC staffPressure is mounting for Iceland’s Prime Minister to resign after an unprecedented leak of data revealed accusations he used an offshore company to hide millions of dollars in investments in Iceland’s major banks.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-04/iceland-pm-urged-to-resign-amid-panama-papers-scandal/7295742

Panama Papers: Vladimir Putin associates, Jackie Chan identified in unprecedented leak of offshore financial records An unprecedented leak of more than 11 million documents has revealed the hidden financial dealings of some of the world’s wealthiest people, as well as 12 current and former world leaders and 128 more politicians and public officials around the world.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-04/unprecedented-leak-of-offshore-financial-records-exposes-secrets/7293524

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ): The Panama Papers: Exposing the Rogue Offshore Finance Industry Leak of more than 11 million documents show heads of state, criminals and celebrities using secret hideaways in tax havens.https://panamapapers.icij.org/

Panama Papers: Greens call for Wilson Security to be stripped of contracts after corruption scandal links exposedThe Greens have called on the Federal Government to strip Wilson Security of its contracts for offshore immigration detention centres after revelations the company has links to a Hong Kong corruption scandal. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-05/greens-call-for-wilson-security-sacking/7299736

Panama Papers: Here’s who has been caught in the fallout of the Mossack Fonseca leak The unprecedented leak of more than 11 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has revealed some of the hidden financial dealings of the world’s rich and powerful.

Here’s a look at some of the more high-profile people feeling the heat after the scandal broke.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-05/who-has-been-caught-in-the-panama-papers-fallout/7299666

Panama Papers: Iceland PM Gunnlaugsson refuses to resign over tax leaks; protesters take to streets Iceland’s Prime Minister is refusing to resign after leaked tax documents known as the Panama Papers revealed accusations he and his wife used an offshore firm to allegedly hide million-dollar investments. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-05/icelandic-pm-refuses-to-resign-over-panama-papers-leak/7298944  (Actually I think that he has now resigned)

Panama Papers: Fraudsters, former tax officials among Australians identified in Mossack Fonseca leak Convicted fraudsters, directors banned by the corporate regulator and former Australian Tax Office (ATO) officials are among hundreds of Australians linked to companies incorporated by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-04-05/australians-identified-in-mossack-fonseca-panama-papers-leak/7297964

(Read more about this investigation by ICIJ journalists and more than a hundred other media partners at:https://panamapapers.icij.org/about.html – and check out the videos and reading list.)

April 6, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Bernie Sanders’ strategy for phasing out nuclear power

USA election 2016Bernie Sanders Wants to Phase Out Nuclear Power, Mother Jones, What would replace it?—By  Tue Apr. 5, 2016“………The aging nuclear fleet in the US is becoming increasingly uneconomical. “As reactors get older, they get more expensive to maintain. It’s not competitive with renewables or natural gas,” says Matthew McKinzie, a nuclear energy expert and advisor to the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund. “By mid-century, we might have 20 reactors operating.”

Getting older nuclear plants in good enough shape to get relicensed can be expensive, as environmental and safety standards have been raised since the plants were built. Renewables advocates argue that the money could be put to better uses…….

HOW THE NUCLEAR PHASEOUT FITS INTO SANDERS’ BIGGER PLAN

Sanders’ critics are right to note that under the current set of policies in place in the US, renewables won’t account for a majority of our energy portfolio for at least another two decades, so it’s not safe to assume that a retired nuclear plant would be replaced by clean energy. In that context, lopping 20 years off the life of a nuclear reactor may very well mean higher carbon emissions than if you relicensed it.

But Sanders’ desire to phase out nuclear power makes a lot more sense in the context of his broader climate and energy plan. He would make fossil fuels more expensive through a carbon tax, and make major investments in clean energy, so renewables would be better poised to replace power lost from shuttered nuclear plants.

The sticking point, of course, is that even if Sanders got to the White House, he wouldn’t get a cooperative Congress, so his larger climate plan would not be enacted. In that case, deciding whether to relicense nuclear plants would be a trickier matter.

The Sanders campaign declined to comment directly on what Sanders would do if he were president and found himself in that situation, offering only this emailed statement from spokesman Karthik Ganapathy: “Sen. Sanders knows there are lots of reasons why nuclear power is a bad idea. Whether it’s the exceptional destructiveness of uranium mining, the fact that there’s no good way to store nuclear waste or the lingering risk of a tragedy like Fukushima or Chernobyl in the US, the truth is: nuclear power is a cure worse than the disease. Safer, cleaner energy sources like wind and solar will help us meet America’s energy needs while protecting the health of our people and combatting the threat of climate change.”

Those views put Sanders right in line with environmental groups like the Sierra Cluband Greenpeace, which oppose nuclear power across the board……http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2016/04/grist-bernie-sanders-wants-to-phase-out-nuclear-power-plants

April 6, 2016 Posted by | USA elections 2016 | Leave a comment

The very real threat of a terrorist Fukushima

terrorism-targets-2Could There Be a Terrorist Fukushima?, NYT,  By GRAHAM ALLISON and WILLIAM H. TOBEY, APRIL 4, 2016 “……..Discussions about nuclear terrorism also tend to focus on the risk of terrorists stealing weapons-grade material or making a dirty bomb. But they often overlook the danger of terrorists attacking a nuclear plant in order to set off a Chernobyl- or Fukushima-like disaster.

That risk is real, however, and has been known for a while. The master planner of the 9/11 attacks had considered crashing a jumbo jet into a nuclear facility near New York City. A Qaeda training manual lists nuclear plants as among the best targets for spreading fear in the United States.

Striking a nuclear plant or the cooling ponds in which nuclear waste is stored wouldn’t set off a mushroom cloud or kill hundreds of thousands of people. But it would spew large amounts of radiation, spark a mass panic and render vast swaths of land uninhabitable. And it could cause thousands of early deaths from cancer.

More than one in three Americans lives within 50 miles of the 99 nuclear reactors operating in the United States today. There are more than 300 other nuclear reactors producing electricity in 30 other countries.

Nuclear plants have built-in safety mechanisms, typically multiple systems that are unlikely to fail simultaneously: If one of them malfunctions, there’s always a backup, the theory goes. But redundancy is effective protection only against accidents, not against terrorists who set out to cause simultaneous system failures. For example, by targeting power and water supplies at the same time, attackers could cause a reactor to melt down or a cooling pond to ignite……..http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/05/opinion/could-there-be-a-terrorist-fukushima.html?smid=tw-share&_r=1

April 6, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Report: £40bn in savings, if UK scrapped Hinkley nuclear, and went for renewables instead

The report says that at £24bn, Hinkley Point C would be the “most expensive building on Earth”, and argues that the new reactors would pass not just economic costs to future generations, but the burdens of nuclear waste and climate change because nuclear is not quick enough to build at scale to stave off dangerous global warming

Hinkley costsflag-UKScrapping Hinkley for renewable alternatives would save ‘tens of billions’
Solar and wind would generate the equivalent power to Hinkley over the plant’s planned lifetime for £40bn less, says analysis comparing future costs, Guardian, , 5 Apr 16, Scrapping plans for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset and building huge amounts of renewable power instead would save the UK tens of billions of pounds, according to an analysis that compares likely future costs.

The Intergenerational Foundation thinktank calculated that Britain would pay up to £40bn less for renewable alternatives that would generate the equivalent power to Hinkley over the plant’s planned lifetime.

A final investment decision by EDF on the nuclear power plant’s expansion is expected in May. The deal involves the government committing £92.50 per megawatt hour over 35 years for its electricity output, more than twice the current wholesale price.

But a report published on Tuesday by the thinktank, which campaigns on fairness between generations, found that onshore windfarms would cost £31.2bn less than Hinkley, and solar photovoltaic power £39.9bn less over 35 years to build and run. The estimate is based on both the value of subsidies paid by the taxpayer for the electricity and the cost of building the infrastructure.

The analysis is based on the government’s ‘contracts for difference’ subsidy levels for the technologies and projections by Bloomberg for how the cost of wind and solar power will fall in the future.

Andrew Simms, one of the report’s co-authors, said: “The government’s current plans for new nuclear power will break spending records, and pass both high costs and large, unknown economic risks onto every UK child for generations to come.

But, readily available, cheaper, safer and quicker renewable energy options would help Britain live both within its economic and environmental means, while also protecting and providing for future generations.”

The report says that at £24bn, Hinkley Point C would be the “most expensive building on Earth”, and argues that the new reactors would pass not just economic costs to future generations, but the burdens of nuclear waste and climate change because nuclear is not quick enough to build at scale to stave off dangerous global warming………

Renewable power has grown in the UK to the point where more electricity was generated from biomass, wind, hydro and solar power in 2015 than nuclear power stations. But it is unlikely the Intergenerational Foundation’s report will shift minds in government, which has cut subsidies for both solar and wind power while pressing ahead with the Hinkley project.

The analysis assumes the level of subsidy for solar and wind under the contracts for difference subsidy regime would remain constant, though in reality this would likely decrease as more capacity was built……. http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/05/scrapping-hinkley-for-renewable-alternatives-will-save-tens-of-billions

April 6, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Takeaways from Obama’s last Nuclear Security Summit

The 2016 Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) concluded on April 1—four days shy of the 7th anniversary of President Barack Obama’s Prague speech, in which, among other things, he announced a “new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years.” The 2016 NSS was the fourth and final summit held in its current format.Obama expressed the hope that the 2016 summit would leave behind an enduring international nuclear architecture for securing highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium.

Leaders and representatives of 52 countries and four regional and international organizations attended the summit. It produced gift baskets (political commitments signed by groups of participants), five action plans for existing international bodies, new national and multilateral commitments, a contact group to oversee implementation of commitments made, and a final communiqué.

A total of 13 gift baskets were presented during the summit, though many of them built upon previous commitments. Three were particularly notable:………

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/order-from-chaos/posts/2016/04/04-post-nuclear-security-summit-benchorin-pifer

April 6, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment