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Saudi Arabia may turn to solar power, as low oil prices hit finances

Is the fear of bankruptcy forcing oil-rich Saudi turn to solar power? Wait for 25 April http://www.firstpost.com/business/is-fear-of-bankruptcy-forcing-oil-rich-saudi-turn-to-solar-power-wait-for-25-april-2744388.html   Apr 22, 2016 In March 2016, Saudi Arabia stunned the world with an unusual announcement. Its oil minister Ali al-Naimi stated the following at a Berlin conference: “I don’t think there is a more ideal country for renewables than Saudi Arabia, given its abundant sunshine, available land and plentiful sand, which is needed for making solar panels”. Of course, this won’t happen overnight, he added by way of clarification. He expects consumers to continue using fossil fuel for the next 50 years. But his statement that Saudi Arabia would make a foray into solar power was the last thing investors had on their minds.

In fact, should Saudi Arabia put its money behind solar power, expect the pace of growth for solar to climb frenetically. Solar power is already expected to grow by 28% during 2016.

Already, last year was a scorcher. 2015 ended with around 59 GW (giga Watt or 1,000 MW) of solar installed capacity. This made it another record year in terms of solar PV installation, It represented a 700% increase from the 2008 annual demand. Clearly, the solar PV industry has grown exponentially and is worth more than $100 billion now.

2016 promises to be another double digit growth year . Various analysts put the growth of solar power in 2016 anywhere between 10-17%, to about 69 GW. Almost 93% of the demand will come from just three countries: India, China and the US. Saudi Arabia’s investments could cause this number to flare up further.

But why is Saudi Arabia moving away from oil? To understand its decision to begin looking to solar energy, it might be helpful to listen carefully to the utterances of Prince Mohammed bin Salman, grandson of the founder king of Saudi Arabia.

Just a few days ago, in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek he pointed to the urgent need for his country to restructure its finances. He was of the belief that his country should change fundamentally. The alternative would be catastrophic.

It was only last year that the country’s managers discovered that thanks to rapidly falling oil prices, Saudi Arabia had witnessed a continuous (and precipitous) fall in its forex reserves. Analysts believed that bankruptcy would be just a couple of years away. The oil price crash had resulted in a budget shortfall of almost $200 billion. Historically, the country depended on oil for 90% of its budget requirements. Now that was fast evaporating.

That could also explain why all eyes are now set on 25 April (three days away) when Prince Mohammed is slated to present his “Vision for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” That is when he is likely to unfold a plan incorporating widespread economic and social changes. According to BusinessWeek, it includes

1) the creation of the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which will eventually hold more than $2 trillion in assets—enough to buy all of Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Berkshire Hathaway, the world’s four largest public companies.

2) an IPO that could sell off “less than 5 percent” of Saudi Aramco, the national oil producer, which will be turned into the world’s biggest industrial conglomerate (watch out, Mukesh Ambani!).

3) diversification into non-petroleum assets, hedging the kingdom’s nearly total dependence on oil for revenue.

According to BusinessWeek, these moves “will technically make investments the source of Saudi government revenue, not oil . . .[so that] within 20 years, we will be an economy or state that doesn’t depend mainly on oil.”

Expect solar power to be a major driver. And wait for April 25!

This is a two part series article on the solar fortunes. Read the second part tommorrow.

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April 22, 2016 Posted by | renewable, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

First Major City to Require Solar Panels on New Buildings – San Francisco

solar-citySan Francisco Becomes First Major City to Require Solar Panels on New Buildings, Nation of Change, By Lorraine Chow – April 20, 2016 
San Francisco is one step closer to its goal of transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy after the city’s Board of Supervisors unanimously voted on Tuesday to mandate solarinstallations on new buildings. According to the San Francisco Examiner, starting Jan. 1 of next year, new commercial and residential buildings up to 10 stories high must install rooftop solar systems for heat or electricity. Buildings that are taller are exempt for now.

The famously green metropolis is now the first major city in the U.S. to legislate such a requirement. San Francisco follows the footsteps of the smaller towns of Lancaster and Sebastopol. The municipalities, which are also in California, passed similar mandates in 2013.

“This legislation will help move us toward a clean energy future and toward our city’s goal of 100 percent renewable energy by 2025,” supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the legislation, wrote on his Facebook page.

He added that San Francisco’s new rooftop solar law is an extension of an already established California law that requires all buildings 10 floors or less designate at least 15 percent of the rooftop for solar use.

“Solar ready” means that the roof is unshaded by the proposed building itself and free of obtrusions, Wiener explained on his website.

As the Examiner explained, the new legislation would give San Francisco’s solar capacity a big boost and help avert emissions:

To gauge the impact the mandate could have, the Department of Environment applied the proposal to construction projects in the pipeline in the third quarter of 2014 and found the 200 projects with solar installations would “avoid over 26,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.”

The current 24.8 megawatt solar systems in place would increase by 7.4 megawatts. The 7.4 megawatts of solar energy can produce 10.5 gigawatt hours of electricity annually, which can power about 2,500 San Francisco homes, [Barry Hooper, the Department of Environment Green Building Coordinator] said Tuesday.

“The Better Roofs ordinance continues to push the city as a national leader on solar policy,” Josh Arce, former president of the San Francisco Commission on the Environment, and community liaison for Laborers Local 261, a labor organization that trains solar jobseekers, said in a statement. “This legislation will expand our efforts to cover San Francisco rooftops with solar panels and tackle climate change, while also creating good jobs for our community.”……
The legislation is similar to a mandate passed in France last year that all new buildings be covered in partial green roofing or solar panels…….. http://www.nationofchange.org/news/2016/04/20/san-francisco-becomes-first-major-city-require-solar-panels-new-buildings/

April 22, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Solar-powered Eco-City for Florida

solar-cityA Solar-Powered Eco-City for 50,000 Breaking Ground in Florida
The Babcock Ranch development will be primarily powered by a $300 million solar array,
Curbed, BY BARBARA ELDREDGE  @BARBARAELDREDGE APR 22, 2016, Construction is kicking off on a development hoping to become America’s first solar-powered city. Located in southwestern Florida just 13 miles from Fort Myers, the under-constructionBabcock Ranch development is slated to encompass 19,500 homes, 6 million square feet of retail, and 50,000 inhabitants by the time it’s fully finished in roughly 25 years.

And it’ll largely be powered by one of the country’s largest arrays of photovoltaic panels.

 When complete, the 400-acre, $300 million array will produce enough energy to run the town and feed excess power back into the electrical grid. Construction of the $300 million, 75-megawatt power plant started in October, and it should be operational and connected to the energy grid by the end of the year……..

Planned entirely from the ground up with sustainability and environmental conservation in mind, over half of city’s 17,608 acres will be set aside for parks, greenways, and lakes. The town is also bordered by two wildlife and nature preserves totaling nearly 150,000 acres of protected wilderness. http://www.curbed.com/2016/4/22/11480578/solar-power-babcock-ranch-city-florida-array-kitson-partners

April 22, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

USA Nuclear regulator allows big drop in Vermont Yankee insurance ( tax-payer will cover any disaster)

FEDS ALLOW BIG DROP IN VERMONT YANKEE INSURANCE, VT Digger, APR. 21, 2016,  BY  VERNON — It’s not cheap to maintain an insurance policy on a nuclear power plant.

But as of this month, Entergy Vermont Yankee is getting a big break on its premiums: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the company can cut its on-site property damage insurance coverage from $1.06 billion to $50 million……..

Since stopping power production at Vermont Yankee in December 2014, Entergy has sought a number of regulatory changes for the Vernon plant.

One example is an NRC-approvedreduction in the Vermont Yankee emergency planning zone, which took effect Tuesday. In making a successful case for cutting emergency planning and funding, Entergy argued that the potential for accidents and radiation releases is much lower now that the plant is no longer operational.

The company’s request to reduce its insurance coverage uses the same logic……

The main risks remaining in Vernon, officials say, are associated with radioactive spent nuclear fuel. Currently, that fuel is stored both in a cooling pool in the plant’s reactor building and in sealed dry casks on a pad nearby; Entergy has pledged that all fuel will be in casks by the end of 2020……..There is a possibility — though the NRC labels it “highly unlikely” — that, if water were drained from the cooling pool, zirconium cladding on the spent fuel could catch fire…..

The NRC notes that it has granted similar insurance exemptions to other decommissioning plants including Maine Yankee and the Zion Nuclear Power Station in Illinois…..

the NRC’s exemption announcement has immediate financial benefits for Vermont Yankee: When factoring in reductions in both on-site and off-site insurance policies, the company’s annual premiums will decrease from about $1.9 million to less than $500,000, Cohn said……https://vtdigger.org/2016/04/21/feds-allow-big-drop-in-vermont-yankee-insurance/

April 22, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Waste: Hinkley Point is too expensive for the taxpayer and for its potential investors

The Times, 22 Apr 16  Bad political decisions sometimes gain their own momentum regardless of the demerits of the case. The government should acknowledge that the decision to build Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset is an error before further expense and political stasis makes it unstoppable…..(subscribers only)  http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nuclear-waste-rcf0j2q6c

April 22, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Massachusetts electricity customers will save money in shift to wind and hydropower

Study predicts shift toward wind, hydropower will save consumers money, MassLive,  By Matt Murphy STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE STATE HOUSE, BOSTON, APRIL 21, 2016.…A new study on the impact large-scale hydro and wind power imports could have on the Massachusetts energy market predicts significant savings for consumers, challenging the narrative put forward by critics of Gov. Charlie Baker’s energy bill that hydropower would be a costly alternative to natural gas.

The economic analysis, conducted for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Partnership by Power Advisory, concludes that energy customers in the state would see a net benefit of $171 million a year from long-term contracts for hydropower or a combination of hydro and land-based wind from northern New England or Canada.

The Clean Electricity Partnership is a coalition of regional wind, hydro and transmission companies working with business and environmental groups to promote clean energy.

The report, written by Power Advisory President John Dalton, suggests the savings generated by driving down demand for natural gas would not only cover the costs of building the transmission and facility infrastructure to import the power, but also deliver 10 percent of the carbon emission reductions required by 2050 under state law.

“Our analysis shows that displacing natural gas-fired electricity generation with hydropower or a combination of hydro and wind results in substantial annual savings to Massachusetts energy consumers as well as dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions,” Dalton wrote……..

The House is expected to release major energy policy legislation as soon as next month that is likely to address the idea of competitive procurement of both hydro and off-shore wind as a clean energy solution to meeting the region’s energy needs as sources such as Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station prepare to come offline.

Over a 25-year period, Dalton’s report estimates $603 million in savings a year in Massachusetts from the importation of Canadian hydropower before the cost of transmission lines and facilities are factored.

The volume of energy from the new renewable resources would drive down demand for natural gas and reduce the price of gas used to produce electricity on peak demand days. The result would be savings of approximately $219 million a year for Massachusetts customers, he wrote. http://www.masslive.com/politics/index.ssf/2016/04/study_predicts_shift_toward_wi.html

April 22, 2016 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

EU and Iran co-operating on nuclear safety

EU-Iran cooperate on nuclear safety World Nuclear News, 22 April 2016 The European Commission and Iran are to launch their first nuclear safety cooperation project under a joint statement issued during an EU delegation’s visit to Tehran. ……According to the statement, the EC and the AEOI are to cooperate “in fulfillment of measures set out in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” – the agreement signed in July 2015 by Iran and the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the UK and the USA – also referred to as the P5+1 – plus the European Union) under which Iran agreed to limit its uranium enrichment activities, eliminate its stockpile of medium-enriched uranium and limit its stockpile of low enriched uranium over the next 15 years………http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-EU-Iran-cooperate-on-nuclear-safety-2204168.html

April 22, 2016 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

America to buy nuclear material from Iran

U.S. to buy nuclear material from Iran By Jim Sciutto and Ryan Browne, CNN April 22, 2016 Washington The U.S. will purchase from Iran 32 metric tons of heavy water, a key component of nuclear reactors, according to a senior administration official.

The official told CNN the goal of the transaction is to get the heavy water out of Iran in the same way the Iran nuclear deal compelled Iran to ship its supply of enriched uranium to Russia.
Reducing its stockpile of nuclear materials like enriched uranium and heavy water is a key component of the Iran nuclear deal.
“The importance of heavy water to a nuclear proliferator is that it provides one more route to produce plutonium for use in (nuclear) weapons,” the Federation of American Scientists said.
The U.S. will spend $8.6 million for the heavy water, with the U.S. official saying the arrangement will likely be revenue-neutral since the Department of Energy will resell the heavy water to commercial and lab facilities in the U.S., including the Oak Ridge National Lab.
The official said the U.S. can’t make heavy water domestically and, as a result, the U.S. lacks an inventory to use for science and research……… the administration official said the new arrangement complied with all elements of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the administration’s official term for the Iran nuclear deal…..http://edition.cnn.com/2016/04/22/politics/us-nuclear-iran-purchase/

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Earth Day: Burying Radioactive Waste and Dumping it into the Oceans

Mining Awareness +

April 22nd is Earth Day.
NASA, Image # : 68-HC-870, 12/24/1968 Earth-rise Christmas Eve 1968
NASA Earth-Rise Christmas Eve 1968
parting of waters 1493 Chronicles
Schedelsche Weltchronik or Nuremberg Chronicle Date 1493
While browsing on Google, the Earth Day web site kept forcibly opening. And, who is among the Earth Day sponsors? Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) located in Woods Hole Massachusetts: http://www.earthday.org/earth-day/earth-day-2016-partners/ Wikipedia tells us that Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) should not be confused with the nearby (and now infamous) Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI). And as late as 2002 the founder of WHRC, George Woodell, raised concerns about the impacts of nuclear war on the environment, http://whrc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/2002-04-TooSmallForWar.pdf , whereas WHOI appears to have been long been tied in with the military. However, the two have recently been joined together in a consortium: http://www.woodsholeconsortium.org/news/consortium.html They are also listed as a WHOI funder-partner.

We turn then to the now infamous Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) with its tainted funding ties and home to nervous…

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April 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

April 22 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “Earth Day: We’re not as doomed as you think” • There are plenty of reasons to be scared about the future: melting glaciers, intensifying heat waves, vanishing rainforests, falling temperature records, bleached out coral, and kids in China don’t know the sky is blue. But it’s not the full picture. [CNN]

Deforested landscape for tea cultivation in Malaysia. Photo by Myloismylife - Loke Seng Hon. CC BY-SA 3.o unported. Wikimedia Commons. Landscape deforested for tea cultivation in Malaysia.
Photo by Myloismylife – Loke Seng Hon.
CC BY-SA 3.o unported. Wikimedia Commons.

¶ “New Evidence Of Challenge For Nuclear Power Industry” • GE-Hitachi to exit laser enrichment program. Pilgrim nuclear plant to cease operations. Serious earthquakes in Japan rattling the nuclear industry. US Nuclear power struggling to compete with solar and wind. [Seeking Alpha]

¶ “Germany’s Energiewende goes global” • As world leaders ratify the Paris climate agreement, many look to Germany’s energy transition as a model for reducing emissions. Even without a storage…

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April 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

A Death of Beauty — Climate Change is Bleaching the Great Barrier Reef Out of Existence — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

Originally posted on robertscribbler: Extinction. It’s a hard, tough thing to consider. One of those possibilities people justifiably do not want to talk about. This notion that a creature we’re fond of and familiar with — a glorious living being along with all its near and distant relatives — could be entirely removed from the…

via A Death of Beauty — Climate Change is Bleaching the Great Barrier Reef Out of Existence — GarryRogers Nature Conservation

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Microscopic particles in oceans – From Fukushima to the USA in 1277 days

tdb_ddm_Tobias_Dahlin_Azote

A new study published in Nature Communications reveals the global dispersal of plankton, but also provides insights for distribution of plastics, radioactive material and other pollutants.

New study in Nature Communications models global connectivity of the entire planet’s ocean surface

The distance between Fukushima and the west coast of the United States is about 8700 kilometres. If microscopic particles – like phytoplankton or radioactive isotopes – were to travel that fifth of the world’s circumference, it seems like that would take ages.

However, the world is not so big after all, since that is not actually the case.

A new study co-authored by centre researcher, James Watson, recently published in Nature Communications found that the earth’s global surfaces are highly connected.

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2016/160419/ncomms11239/full/ncomms11239.html

By investigating the largely underexplored and rarely quantified mechanisms of global surface connectivity, Watson and his co-author Bror Jonsson from Princeton University found that microscopic particles can reach all regions of the ocean in only a decade.

This study emerged from contrasting camps of ideas about planktonic community dispersal in ocean ecosystems: one suggesting that everything is connected and environmental conditions decide where species live; another proposing that spatial isolation leads to genetically distinct species; and another suggesting that both of those ideas fail to tell the whole story.

On top of that, the time it takes for planktonic communities to travel around the ocean surface is a question that is still largely unresolved.

“These short surface-connection times are relevant to anyone studying dispersion in the surface ocean beyond planktonic species, including radioactive materials, plastics and other forms of pollution”

James Watson, co-author

Modeling global surface current connectivity
To tackle these inconsistencies in understanding and questions about time, Watson and his co-author create a model to track particles moving across the global ocean surface. To do this they use a number of different concepts and techniques.

This study uses minimum connection time, the fastest time that particles can travel from one location to another, instead of the commonly used expected connectivity time, which uses mean travel time. Watson notes there are two advantages to this approach.

“Minimum connection time is a more appropriate metric for phytoplankton and bacterial connectivity since asexually reproducing organisms have high reproductive output that attenuates low dispersal probabilities. Additionally, mean transit times in the global ocean are not well defined, as water can recirculate eternally and, hence, every particle seeded in a given patch eventually will reach all other patches if enough time is provided,” explains Watson.

Calculating minimum connection times from Lagrangian particle tracking, a method for understanding computational fluid dynamics, the authors described the global ocean as a network “with patches in the ocean as nodes and minimum connection times as edges connecting the nodes.”

The authors then considered each patch pair and multi-step connections, or in other words particles traveling along a number of patches, and applied Dijkstra’s algorithm, commonly used for finding the shortest path between nodes, to create a network of minimum connection times between every region of the ocean’s surface.

The authors point out that while this global network does account for timescales of physical connectivity, they do not account for environmental factors which undoubtedly play a role in connectivity.

Plankton-klum.jpg

Radioactive reality
While the idea for this study emerged from tiny plankton, the results have blue whale-sized relevance for other ocean surface traveling objects.

Furthermore, these results could in the future help us understand and prepare for how long it takes harmful particles to connect across the globe – like from Fukushima to western United States, or plastics aggregating along the coasts.

“A real example is the 2011 Fukushima disaster, in which a Japanese nuclear reactor released a large quantity of radioactive isotopes into the Pacific Ocean. Traces of radioactivity were detected on the Pacific Coast of the US in November of 2014 – 3.6 years later. Our estimated minimum connectivity time between the Fukushima release site and its detection site of the US west coast is 3.5 years,” explains Watson, an indirect verification of their method.

From a planktonic perspective, the results suggest that planktonic communities may be able to keep pace with climate change by changing locations to better suit their preferred environmental niche.

In a bigger global perspective, Watson concludes that these results, “quantify the effects of global-scale dispersal on how marine communities can adapt to their changing ocean environment.”

The timescales of global surface-ocean connectivity

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2016/160419/ncomms11239/full/ncomms11239.html

From Fukushima to the USA in 1277 days

http://www.stockholmresilience.org/21/research/research-news/2016-04-21-from-fukushima-to-the-usa-in-1277-days.html

Global surface-ocean connectivity

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JzF2U28ruvg

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Time-lapse of the Kyushu earthquakes for a week since April 14th

The epicenter was moving this way for one week time in Kumamoto earthquake.
680 plus earthquakes in just a few days.
But the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority declares that the Sendai nuclear plant is safe!!!

https://youtu.be/nzPfpT1cEJc

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima city government donated 10,000 bottles of their tap water to Kumamoto city

3-Fukushima-city-government-donated-10000-bottles-of-tap-water-to-Kumamoto-city-800x500_c.png

On 4/18/2016, Fukushima city Waterworks Bureau donated 10,000 bottles of their tap water to Kumamoto city.

Kumamoto city is one of the main disaster areas of 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes.

Fukushima tap water is named “Fukushima water” by the city government and obtained “Monde Selection” in 2015 and 2016 for its taste.

https://www.city.fukushima.fukushima.jp/suidou/?p=15191

https://www.city.fukushima.fukushima.jp/suidou/?p=7982

http://fukushima-diary.com/2016/04/fukushima-city-government-donated-10000-bottles-of-tap-water-to-kumamoto-city/

 

2-Fukushima-city-government-donated-10000-bottles-of-tap-water-to-Kumamoto-city

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fears grow as Takahama reactors near restart

Furthermore those reactors in case of nuclear accident are much more dangerous because they are using  the MOX fuel, with contains lethal plutonium added to uranium.

OSAKA – As two aging reactors in the town of Takahama, Fukui Prefecture, move toward restart, safety concerns are growing in neighboring prefectures and municipalities within 30 km of the plant.

Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama No. 1 and 2 reactors are over 40 years old, but the utility has applied for a 20-year extension. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority officially gave the reactors the green light, signaling they meet the fundamental safety standards needed for reactivation.

Although additional tests and inspections are needed before the reactors can resume operation, the potential first-ever restart of two units that are more than four decades old has neighboring communities worried.

The Sea of Japan coastal city of Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, parts of which lie 5 km from Takahama, would be on the front lines of any disaster response in the event of an accident, and Mayor Ryozo Tatami expressed specific concerns Wednesday.

“At present, has the safety of the plant been confirmed? We need scientific and technological explanations. The No. 1 and 2 reactors were envisioned and constructed to operate for 40 years,” Tatami said. “We also need documentation from when the plant was originally built that proves it’s possible to operate the reactor for 60 years, especially since the core cannot be replaced.”

Caution by Tatami in particular over restarting Takahama Nos. 1 and 2 could impact the stance of other Kansai leaders.

A small part of northern Shiga Prefecture lies within 30 km of Takahama, and Gov. Taizo Mikazuki expressed concern this week about running old reactors that could leak radiation into Lake Biwa, as well as the problem of storing additional nuclear waste generated by the reactors.

While gaining approval for restarts from heavily pro-nuclear Takahama and Fukui Prefecture is expected to be relatively easy, Kepco is certain to face calls from other Kansai-area prefectures to provide detailed explanations of why it needs to restart two aging reactors before permission for their restart is given.

It is also likely to face questions about whether the utility and NRA are cutting corners in order to make the July 7 deadline for formal permission to restart. If that deadline is missed, the reactors are supposed to be scrapped.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/04/21/national/fears-grow-takahama-reactors-near-restart/#.VxkemFCvirW

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment