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Let Japanese Officials Eat Isotopes To Atone For Fukushima


Despite the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters, nuclear energy continues to thrive. Pictured: Fukushima shortly after the disaster.

How Japanese Officials Can Atone for Fukushima

Let them eat isotopes.

The meltdowns and release of radiation from the Fukushima Daaichi nuclear power plant has been an ongoing crisis for five years. Nuclear engineer Koide Hiroaki has been one of the most trenchant critics of how the Japanese government and power company TEPCO (mis)handled the disaster. In a wide-ranging interview at Counterpunch, he offered a way for officials, who have gone unpunished, to atone.

Right now the people of Fukushima have been abandoned in the areas of the highest levels of radiation. And abandoned people have to find a way to live. Farmers produce agricultural goods, dairy farmers produce dairy products, and ranchers produce meat; these people must do so in order to live. They are not the ones to be blamed at all.

As the Japanese state is absolutely unreliable in this matter, these people have no choice but to go on producing food in that place, all the while suffering further exposure. So I don’t think we can throw out the food they produce there under those conditions. Inevitably someone has to consume that food.

Certainly not the residents of the Fukushima area. Hiroaki has a better idea.

We should serve all of the most heavily contaminated food at say the employee cafeteria at TEPCO or in the cafeteria for Diet members [Japanese parliament] in the Diet building. But that isn’t nearly enough. We must carefully inspect the food, and once we’ve determined what foods have what levels of contamination, once that is fully measured and delineated, then those who have the corresponding levels of responsibility should eat it, should be given it.

He’s serious.

I am aware that this is a controversial proposal, but each one of us, especially those who built post-war Japan, bears responsibility for allowing our society to heavily dependent on nuclear energy without carefully reflecting on the risks and consequences of it. And more importantly, we have the responsibility for protecting children.

Even after Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear energy thrives. Especially in Russia and China, where they are planning to build floating nuclear energy plants. Huh? From CNN on April 28:

China is planning to build nuclear reactors that will take to the sea to provide power in remote locations. … These small power plants will be built in Chinese shipyards, mounted on large sea-going barges, towed to a remote place where power is needed and connected to the local power grid, or perhaps oil rig.

China has 20 planned; Russia seven. Never mind how much the costs would cascade if another disaster occurs. In January 2014, at Warscapes magazine, I wrote that it was difficult to understand how the advocates of nuclear power can continue to block out the risk of major accidents, especially when they are fresh in our memory.:

Fukushima has just occurred before the world has gotten over the last one, Chernobyl. What if another accident occurs while we’re still knee-deep in cleaning up and bearing the costs of Fukushima, and maybe even still Chernobyl? Casualties and damage to the environment aside for the moment, how can nations afford this? Come to think of it, how do nuclear-power companies afford it, yet continue to forge ahead?

To answer the last question: state subsidies to build nuclear energy plants. Also, of course, much of the cost of cleaning up after an accident is, as you would expect, offloaded to the state and its citizens. Bailing out the nuclear energy is of a piece with bailing out the banks.



May 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Mount Sakura is just 50km from the NPP Sendai

The Sakurajima volcano in Japan erupted again on April 30, 2016.

Japanese media do not talk about it…
Mount Sakura is just 50km from the NPP Sendai (Kagoshima, Japan)!

3 subsequent explosions sent a column of ash 3800, 1800, and 1200 meters over the crater.






Nowlook at this awesome video:

This new eruptive phase at Sakurajima volcano, Japan, began back on April 29, 2016:

Explosions also occurred on April 30, 2016:

Before exploding again on April 30 2016.

The volcanic unrest continues… And nobody knows when it is going to stop!

Sakurajima volcano eruption on April 30, 2016 video



May 4, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

How Can Japan Settle The Issue Of Fukushima Daiichi Tritium? Drink It.


Water tanks crowding the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant site

Here’s the problem in a nutshell—or rather a thimbleful—facing the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

There are over 1,100 large steel tanks brimming with filtered water—except for a low contaminant called tritium—clogging both the plant and an expanding area outside the site.

The water is a mix of tons of groundwater flowing into the plant’s basements and tons of contaminated water that have become radiated after draining down there through the three damaged reactors the water was injected into to keep the melted uranium cores cool. This lethal liquid mix is pumped out the basements and decontaminated before it overflows and seeps into the sea; some of it is recycled back as coolant into the reactors while the rest is pumped into the storage tanks.

This process continues hour after hour, day after day, year after year: a cunningly worthy punishment of the gods for the latter-day Sisyphus, TEPCO. Consequently, every week or two a new tank-full of treated water is added to the forest of steel now covering the area like giant alien mushrooms. The total amount of stored water exceeds 800,000 cubic tons and is inexorably heading for one million tons and more without an end in site.

The cost is enormous, and picking up the tab is the Japanese taxpayer—not TEPCO, which is undergoing a ten-year reconstruction since a government bail out saved it from bankruptcy.

So the million-ton-plus dilemma for the government has boiled down to three options: keep on with the endless and expensive tank building and filling; find a way to remove the tritium from the water; or have TEPCO discharge (dump) the water into the ocean.

The latter option is by far the easiest and least expensive method, except that the water is tritiated: that is the water has become radioactive.

Without context, that’s a scary word, until you remember that sunbathing and eating bananas are pleasant radioactive pastimes. The point being that the energy tritium gives off is so low as to be unmeasurable with a dosimeter. And the particles (not rays) tritium expels can be stopped by plastic wrap—as Shunichi Tanaka, head of Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority, told the press recently.

That’s a fact, but it’s not the point, say environmentalist foes of the dumping method. Ingesting tritium is a concern for health they argue. And they have experts to back up such concerns, though they are mostly theoretical. Meanwhile, there are experts on the other side of the debate pooh-poohing such worries and asking to see some solid proof to back up the theory.

Conclusion: Those supportive of nuclear power tend to minimize the health risks of tritium, while those opposing the use of nuclear power tend to exaggerate its risks.

What is not debatable is the negative psychological impact releasing the water into the sea will have on Japan’s nervous neighbors, the suffering people of the northeast, the region’s fishing industry and the Japanese electorate.

Given such concerns and uncertainties, organizations like Greenpeace urge the government to err on the side of caution. The best option, says Greenpeace, is to continue storing the water while exploring all technical options for tritium separation.

On the face of it, that seems reasonable. But then experts opposing this stance, like Lake Barrett, a nuclear industry consultant advising TEPCO, point out that while it may be possible to create a method of separating the tritium, it hasn’t been found yet, despite much effort; and it would likely cost a couple of billion dollars to develop and perfect in any case. It’s no surprise that TEPCO and the government have reached the same conclusion.

“All that money could be better spent on schools, hospitals,” Barrett told me. “And you can’t go on building tanks forever.”

Besides, he adds, “The very low levels of tritium in the stored water are not a meaningful health risk. After verification that the radioactivity levels are within conservative Japanese health risks, I would not hesitate to drink it, bathe in it, or eat fish or shellfish harvested from it.”

Now there’s an idea. If the government is to discharge the tritiated water into the ocean without turning a large portion of the electorate against it, it needs to persuade a majority of citizens that it is safe within reason to do so. This will require a number of carefully thought out steps.

The government will have to clearly explain the pros and cons of its action and the reason for its decision; it must establish a mechanism to compensate the fisherman for the shortfall they will undergo following the release; an international panel of independent, knowledgeable people, including environmentalists of the non-hysterical variety, is required to verify the tritiated water does indeed fall well below internationally accepted standards for release; and the panel members must be granted access to monitor the process at any time they wish.

Then for the coup de grâce, Prime Minister Abe, his cabinet members along with TEPCO executives should visit Fukushima Daiichi, and while standing in front of one the giant tanks each drink a glass of the tritiated water. This won’t sway everyone, of course, but it would give the government the minimum moral authority required to make such a contentious decision.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radioactive material from Fukushima plant coming back to Japan in the Pacific



Prof. Aoyama from Institute of Environmental Radioactivity of Fukushima University reported that the radioactive material discharged from Fukushima plant circulated in the Pacific to come back to Japan offshore.

He implemented seawater analysis at 71 points from 11. 2015 to 2. 2016. The analysis is partially completed to show radioactive material has spread to the South West offshore of Japan. 2 Bq/m3 of Cs-137 was detected in seawater from South West offshore of Kyushu. 1.83 Bq/m3 was detected even offshore of the west coast of Japan.

0.38 Bq/m3 of Cs-134 was also measured to prove this is from Fukushima accident.

It is assumed that the discharged Cs-134/137 travelled to the east in the Northern Pacific. It was carried to the South and West to come back to Japan by taking 2 ~ 3 years.

He comments it is possible that the density of radioactive material increases from now.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 1 Comment

Questions raised over nuclear evacuation plans urging residents to remain indoors


Residents of Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, disembark from a ferry after its arrival at a port in Oita Prefecture as part of a nuclear disaster evacuation drill, in November 2015

Residents living in areas hosting Japan’s nuclear power plants are voicing concerns about nuclear accident evacuation plans following two recent deadly earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture registering a maximum 7 on the Japanese intensity scale.

The government’s evacuation plans are based on the premise of some residents near nuclear plants initially remaining indoors, and having them flee to other prefectures if necessary. But questions have been raised over how effective current plans would be in the event of disasters like those that hit Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011.

“If there were a nuclear accident, remaining indoors would be impossible. The Kumamoto Earthquake has made me even more anxious,” said Ikue Yamaguchi, a 34-year-old public servant raising two children in the Kagoshima Prefecture city of Ichikikushikino. Her home is just around 15 kilometers away from the No. 1 and 2 reactors at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Satsumasendai in the prefecture. The reactors are the only ones currently operating in Japan.

Before the Fukushima nuclear disaster, areas within 8 to 10 kilometer radii of nuclear power plants were designated as being subject to evacuation plans, but after the outbreak of the disaster, the areas were expanded to a 30 kilometer radius. As a result, 135 municipalities in 21 prefectures are now subject to such plans, compared with 45 municipalities in 15 prefectures before the disaster. Altogether, some 4.8 million people, or about 4 percent of the population, are subject to such evacuation plans.

Under government evacuation plans, those living within 5 kilometers of a nuclear power plant are supposed to be evacuated immediately if there are signs of a nuclear accident, while those living 5 to 30 kilometers away are to remain indoors, and then evacuate further away if there are signs that radiation levels are increasing. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says that radiation exposure can be sufficiently reduced in areas between 5 and 30 kilometers from a nuclear power plant by remaining indoors. It adds that if people in those areas go out of their way to evacuate, they could face a heighted risk of radiation exposure and health damage.

But in the case of an earthquake like the temblors that recently struck Kumamoto Prefecture, which left many homes in danger of collapsing, it would be difficult to remain indoors. And not all shelters offer stable protection, either. As of the end of March last year, 85.7 percent of public facilities in Kagoshima Prefecture supposed to be used as shelters during disasters had been reinforced against earthquakes — a figure lower than the national average of 88.3 percent. Ehime Prefecture, which hosts Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata Nuclear Power Plant that is expected to be reactivated in late July, has the nation’s third worst rate, at 79.1 percent.

If an accident were to occur at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, then according to estimates, it could take up to around 29 hours to evacuate some 210,000 people living within a 30 kilometer radius of the plant who would be subject to evacuation. This, however, is based on the premise of people living in areas within 5 to 30 kilometers of the plant initially remaining indoors — if everyone were to start evacuating at once, then it is predicted that transportation networks would become congested, and evacuation would take even longer.

“Even if we were to evacuate indoors, then we would have to go outside (to receive supplies, etc.) and wouldn’t be able to avoid exposure to radiation,” Yamaguchi says. “I would want to evacuate immediately, but evacuation routes would probably be crowded.”

Shunro Iwata, an official at the nuclear safety control division of the Kagoshima Prefectural Government, commented, “When evacuating indoors, people are not forbidden from going outside, so they can go out if the need arises. There would be no immediate effect on health (for radiation levels below the standard reading). We are not in a position to revise plans, and there is no change to the fact that this is the most reasonable approach at present.”

Naoya Sekiya, a specially appointed associate professor at the University of Tokyo who is familiar with evacuation plans during disasters, said it is not realistic to base evacuation plans on the premise of people remaining indoors.

“Evacuation plans should be made with the presumption of a major earthquake cutting off roads and railways. If evacuation orders are issued to people within a five-kilometer radius of a nuclear plant, then obviously people in surrounding areas will start evacuating, too, resulting in further confusion. An evacuation plan based on the premise of people remaining indoors is not realistic,” he said.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear | , | Leave a comment

NHK president rapped over remarks on nuclear power reporting


NHK President Katsuto Momii speaks at a House of Councillors budget committee meeting in March 2016.

NHK President Katsuto Momii has come under fire from journalism experts and from within his organization over his recent remarks on how the public broadcaster should report on nuclear power after the Kumamoto earthquakes, in which he was quoted as saying that reports “should be based on official announcements so as not to unnecessarily stir up residents’ anxiety.”

Momii reportedly made the controversial remarks during an April 20 meeting of the public broadcaster’s disaster policy headquarters following the powerful earthquakes in Kumamoto Prefecture.

Asked about the authenticity of his comment during a House of Representatives Internal Affairs and Communications Committee session on April 26, Momii said what he meant by “official announcements” was “basically about figures,” explaining that NHK would report figures measured by radiation monitoring devices set around nuclear plants as well as views presented by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. He added, “It seems a little strange to spread (information that would trigger) concern and anxiety among locals without grounds in terms of avoiding unnecessary confusion.”

In response to Momii’s comment, former Kyodo News reporter and Doshiha University journalism professor Jun Oguro pointed out that official announcements failed to provide information necessary for evacuation to local residents at the time of the Fukushima nuclear disaster following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake.

“It is odd to conceal information just because some believe that it could cause panic. Broadcasters should offer various types of information, making clear the sources of their information,” Oguro argued, adding, “Viewers who are on the receiving end of information will sort out what they need. If broadcasters concealed information they had, their journalistic responsibility would be called into question.” He further criticized the NHK president, saying, “His attitude is almost as if he doesn’t trust NHK reporters or viewers.”

In response to the president’s controversial remarks, Masatoshi Nakamura, chairman of NHK’s largest union, the Japan Broadcasting Labor Union, released a comment on the organization’s website on April 25, saying, “As a public broadcaster, its reporting is based on facts uncovered through interviews and research.” He went on to say, “‘The confirmation of ‘facts’ does not come upon announcements or acknowledgment by administrative bodies. The ‘facts’ are unveiled through NHK’s independent research efforts.”

A middle-ranking NHK employee working on the ground told the Mainichi Shimbun, “We have been told by our seniors that those in power do not reveal things that are inconvenient to them. We should deliver objective facts learned from public entities, scientists, private organizations and other sources that we believe are necessary.” The employee added, “It is extremely dangerous to put restrictions on sources at one’s own discretion and depend solely on information provided by the authorities. The NHK president should think about the role of news reporting.”

A NHK producer appeared appalled at Momii’s remarks, saying, “He really doesn’t get what a news organization is.” At the same time, the producer said, “This (kind of situation) is to be expected as long as the system allows NHK’s governors, who are appointed by the prime minister, to pick its president. Unless changes are made to the Broadcast Act (that sets regulations regarding operation of NHK), there will be no fundamental improvement.” The producer stressed the importance of constructive criticism from outside NHK since it is difficult for its employees who are the subject of regulation under the Broadcast Act to voice criticism about the organization.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Leakage of radioactive material from Hanford poses danger to Tri-Cities area of Washington state.

radiation-warningNUCLEAR WASTE LEAKING AT ‘AMERICAN FUKUSHIMA’ IN NORTHWEST, NewsWeek, BY  ON 5/3/16 “……..The 177 underground tanks were never a permanent solution, and the government has hired private contractors to build a plant that will solidify the waste and prepare it for permanent safe storage. The project will cost an astonishing $110 billion, according to estimates, making it what many believe to be the most expensive, and extensive, environmental remediation project in the world. Completion is about five decades away.

When I visited Hanford in 2013, construction of the Waste Treatment Plant—which will pump nuclear sludge out of the tanks and turn them into a hardened, glasslike substance—was slow and rife with technical challenges. Whistleblowers, meanwhile, were alleging that private contractors had neglected safety and engineering concerns in their rush to complete the job. Otherwise sober observers likened the place to a nuclear tinderbox. “America’s Fukushima?” asked the resulting Newsweek cover story.

The question remains disturbingly open. Of the 28 newer double-shelled tanks, AY-102 was already known to be leaking toxic sludge into the soil. Now a second double-shelled tank, AY-101, is believed to be leaking as well, according to a report by Seattle news station KING 5. A contractor’s memo obtained by the station acknowledges “the possibility that the material is from tank waste that has escaped from the primary shell of the double-shell tank.” That material likely includes radioactive isotopes like cesium-137 and strontium-90, though nobody really knows the exact composition of the sludge in each tank.

But everyone is certain that their escape bodes poorly for the thousands who live and work in the Tri-Cities area of Washington state……

May 4, 2016 Posted by | general | 1 Comment

Radiation from Santa Susana Field Laboratory in California causing cancers, but this is hushed up

see-no-evilFlag-USACompensation denied to US nuclear workers to hush up Santa Susana radiation dangers – fmr employee  3 May, 2016 Cancer-struck workers at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory in California have been denied state compensation in order to keep the danger posed by the nuclear site to nearby residential areas out of the public eye, a former employee told RT.Hundreds of workers at the nuclear and aeronautical facility in Simi Valley, which was instrumental in the US space program from 1949 to 2006, have died or fallen ill due to exposure to radiation.

However, when those people applied for compensation in accordance with a US government program, their claims were denied, McClatchy DC reported. The Department of Energy (DOE) explained the refusal by saying that the sick employees were unable to prove that they had worked in ‘Area IV’ at Santa Susana.

Only staff from this section are eligible for compensations as ‘Area IV’ was the location of nuclear reactor experimentations and development, according to the Department of Labor, which is responsible for making payments.

The workers argue that their “fluid” contracts allowed for them to be regularly dispatched to the radioactive section, but the government failed to maintain records of their movements.

The lawyers believe that laboratory staff should not prove their presence in Area IV at all as DOE contractors used the entirety of the site. Former Santa Susana employee, William Shepler, who suffers from skin cancer and anxiety problems, was among those, who were denied their pay.

The management of Boeing, which acquired the California facility in 1996, made the decision to leaving sick and dying people without compensation because “they don’t know anything,” he told RT.

“And I think the DOE, probably, made a decision for Boeing and just told Boeing: ‘We know what to do and we’ll go along with it’,” the nuclear worker stressed.

The authorities “want to keep this small” because of the danger posed by the radioactive site, he explained.

“There are civilians living in Simi Valley and in the canyons near Santa Susana. And even in the [San Fernando] Valley. The evidence is there – there are high rates of rare cancers that are above the norm in the US,” Shepler stressed.

The situation would become “unmanageable” for DOE if the truth about the threat posed by the nuclear lab was made public, he added.

Since all reactors were considered experimental, they did not have containment structures, causing radiation leaks. “Santa Susana had no containment vessels. Chernobyl was like Santa Susana, I don’t believe it had containment for radiation,” the nuclear worker said……..

According to the 1997 Epidemiologic Study to Determine Possible Adverse Effects, Santa Susana Field Lab workers showed higher rates of some cancers.

The study said that from 1988 through 1995, the rate of some types of cancer was more than 60 percent greater among those residents living within 2 miles of the field lab than among people living within 5 miles. These people suffered more from thyroid, upper digestive tract, bladder, and blood and lymph tissue cancers.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | health, USA | 1 Comment

In USA’s Presidential campaign – Republican climate denialism is at fever pitch

USA election 2016Dahr Jamail | As Climate Disruption Advances, UN Warns: “The Future Is Happening Now” TruthOut, , 02 May 2016  By Dahr Jamail, Truthout “……… Report  Denial and Reality

The ongoing Republican presidential campaigning means that anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) denial is reaching a fever pitch.

Republican presidential candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and front-runner Donald Trump both vowed to undo several Obama administration policy efforts aimed at mitigating ACD impacts.

Meanwhile, former governor of Alaska and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin claimed that ACD was “bogus” and a myth that scientists and policy makers “are peddling” in order to advance political agendas.

Also on the denial front, the group Media Matters cataloged the questions asked during both the Republican and Democratic presidential debates, and found that of the 1,477 questions asked by the various networks to the candidates, only 22 of them (approximately 1.5 percent) were about ACD. Of all the networks that hosted debates, the one that asked the most ACD-related questions was the Spanish-language network (Univision, which is US-based).

Back to reality, recent polling shows that the vast majority of Americans now believe that ACD is real and ongoing, and that the US government needs to do something about it.

Meanwhile, scientists in a global coalition known as Climate Feedback have begun working together with the aim of sorting fact from fiction in US media ACD coverage.

According to Michael Levitin, the group’s communications coordinator, the new group will use a web platform to verify facts and annotate online articles and include their comments on top of the original story. They will then use a rating system so readers are able to judge the stories’ scientific credibility.

“Recognized by NASA, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and California Gov. Jerry Brown, among others, Climate Feedback is already improving journalistic standards by flagging misreported climate science in mainstream outlets,” Levitin said…….

May 4, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA elections 2016 | 1 Comment

‘400 irregularities’ in nuclear power plant parts – admits France’s nuclear firm AREVA

AREVA crumblingflag-franceFrance’s nuclear giant Areva admits to ‘400 irregularities’ in nuclear power plant parts, with 50 still in operation, Telegraph, UK,   Henry Samuel, Paris 3 MAY 2016 
France’s ailing nuclear giant, Areva, faced a major scandal on Tuesday after the country’s nuclear watchdog confirmed there have been “irregularities” in 400 parts produced in its reactors since 1965, and that “around 50 are currently in service in France’s nuclear power plant fleet”.

France’s independent Nuclear Safety Authority, ASN, said the “irregularities” were listed in an audit it had ordered from Areva after it detected a “very serious anomaly” in a reactor vessel in the country’s Flamanville EPR nuclear plant, the same model Britain plans to use for two new plants at Hinkley Point.

The fault in the vessel destined to house the plant’s nuclear fuel and confine its radioactivity was detected last year.

“These irregularities consist in incoherencies, modifications or omissions in manufacturing dossiers,” ASN said in a statement.

The revelation came hours after Areva’s director general admitted that 400 documents assessing whether parts of nuclear plants met required standards may have been “falsified”.

The doubts over documents supposed to rubber-stamp the quality of parts destined for new-generation nuclear power reactors will be a cause for serious concern for the British government as it is poised to finalise a controversial, multi-billion pound contract to build reactors at Hinkley Point designed by Areva.

Areva launched an audit late 2015 into anomalies at the Le Creusot Forge site, which  specialises in highly complex moulded parts for new-generation nuclear reactors.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | France, safety | Leave a comment

Serious disadvantages of the Fukushima ‘ice wall’

Experts: Fukushima ‘ice wall’ could destroy reactor units, turn site into swamp — Risk of fractures, ground movement, building subsidence — Must be frozen for 200 years — Officials: High cliffs just behind plant may become unstable — Gov’t: “Observable heaving” and deformations possible (VIDEO)

icewall march 30 2016

AP, Apr 29, 2016 (emphasis added): Fukushima No. 1 plant’s ice wall won’t be watertight, says chief architect… Even if the frozen barrier… works as envisioned, it will not completely block all water… because of gaps in the wall… said Yuichi Okamura, a chief architect… Tepco resorted to [this] after it became clear it had to do something drastic… [Okamura said,] “We have come up against many unexpected problems.” The water woes are just part of the many obstacles… No one has even seen the nuclear debris

Huffington Post, Apr 1, 2016: ‘Ice Wall’ Is Japan’s Last-Ditch Effort To Contain Fukushima Radiation… [It’s] a desperate attempt to stop radiation that’s been leaking from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for five years…

Kyodo, Mar 30, 2016: The NRA warned earlier that if the groundwater levels within the [ice] walls is reduced excessively by blocking the flow from outside, highly contaminated water within the buildings could seep out as a result.

Proposal for controlling ground water and radioactive leakage in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (by World Water and Climate Foundation): [TEPCO] has a plan to freeze soil around the plant… this idea may not be sustainable… over the 200-year period that will be required for the reactors to be decommissioned.… The problem with freezing… is that solutes may be expelled from the ice… This can result in extremely concentrated saline solutions that do not freeze even at low temperatures. It is likely that under these conditions radioactive materials could become highly concentrated in dense brines that could then flow as density currents… Also, heating and cooling during the four annual seasons in Japan may make the ground of the station site softer and wetter like a swamp, and it could create anotherrisk to the reactors, such as building destruction… The authors would like to express sincere thanks to Dr. W.F. Vincent, Dr. I. Ostrovsky, Dr. S. Kudoh and Dr. L. Legendre for their valuable comments and suggestions for strengthening this proposal.

Los Alamos National LaboratoryIntegrated model of groundwater flow and radionuclide migration at Fukushima Daiichi… we will be able to answers critical questions such as… Will the cryogenic barrier lead to salt water intrusion at the site thereby mobilizing contaminantssuch as Cs and Sr that are mobile under high salinity conditions?

U.S. Department of Energy, 2015: Independent Technical Support for the Frozen Soil Barrier… several references discuss soil heave in the context of artificial ground freezing… It is possible that some observable heaving will occur directly above and directly adjacent to the frozen soil barrier… Monitoring of temperatures, heave pressures, and deformations… would provide information to assist in managing impacts from soil heave…

Geological Survey of Japan, 2015: [T]he sustainability of the ice wall remains doubtful… Furthermore, the ice lenses will grow irregularly as per the distribution of chiller pipes, and the sediment desaturation might lead to the aquitards’ compaction and subsidence around the buildings. In effect, a decrease in pore water pressure could increase the effective stress of the ground and result in movements and the formation of fractures in the superficial units.

IAEA, 2016: The IAEA group of experts reviewed the status of groundwater inflow, countermeasures and modelling… During the visit to Daiichi NPS on 18 February 2016, groundwater seepage on the slopes [i.e. cliffs over 100 feet high directly behind plant] that have been covered with facing was observed by the IAEA experts… seepage through the facing could create geotechnical instability on the slope if horizontal drains are not installed…

Watch TEPCO’s video on the ‘ice wall’ here

May 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | Leave a comment

What’s Wrong with The Bill Gates Nuclear Vision? Well, a lot, actually

Gates'-travelling-Wave-NuclBill Gates Still Trying To Corral The “Wild” Nuclear Unicorn, Clean Technica May 3rd, 2016 by     Legendary tech billionaire Bill Gates has been pitching the idea that nuclear energy is the only technology that can be deployed quickly enough to ward off catastrophic global warming. However, Gate’s favored nuclear technology is not nearly ready to come off the drawing board. Meanwhile, solar, wind, and other clean technologies are already sweeping into the real world.

Nevertheless, Gates continues to soldier on. In the latest development, he made the case for a nuclear energy “miracle” to the readers of MIT Technology Review.

The Bill Gates Nuclear Vision

One should expect an ultra-savvy marketer like Bill Gates to come up with a far-reaching strategy for his nuclear vision, and he has. In 2006 he formed a nuclear company called TerraPower with the aim of providing the world with “a more affordable, secure and environmentally friendly form of nuclear energy.”

Gates bumped his strategy up to the next level in December 2015. In a splashy media event coordinated with the COP21 Paris climate talks, he launched a new investment group called the Breakthrough Energy Coalition.

BEC was designed as private sector companion to Mission Innovation, which also launched at COP21. Mission Innovation is a coalition of energy-producing governments that have pledged to increase public sector investment in clean energy.

Given Gate’s interest in TerraPower’s success, we’re thinking that BEC is also designed to deflect investment toward nuclear. Although Gates has positioned BEC as source-neutral, in a blog post during COP21 he laid down a pretty big hint that nuclear was the way to go:

The renewable technologies we have today, like wind and solar, have made a lot of progress and could be one path to a zero-carbon energy future. But given the scale of the challenge, we need to be exploring many different paths—and that means we also need to invent new approaches.

What’s Wrong With A Little Nuclear Energy?

Joe Romm of Think Progress has picked apart Gates’s most recent pro-nuclear pitch, concluding that:

…Gates is just wrong about everything here. He is wrong that energy miracles are needed by the industrialized countries to achieve CO2 levels in 2050 consistent with beating the 2°C target. He is wrong that achieving that target requires focusing on R&D rather than deployment. He is wrong that there is some sort of consensus to that effect. He is wrong that a carbon price isn’t important in achieving the rapid reduction the rich countries need. He is wrong to make it seem like boosting energy efficiency is not as vital a strategy as reducing carbon intensity.


Romm’s basic point is that clean energy solutions are already here and now, just not in the form that Gates would prefer to invest in.

The solar industry, of course, is one place where you’ll find a lot of agreement with Romm. One example is the graphic above, which represents the winnowing-out process used by the company Siva Power to settle on its market-ready thin film solar technology.

Last December, Siva CTO Markus E. Beck, a recognized leader in thin film technology, shared some thoughts with CleanTechnica about Gates’s nuclear solution. He emphasized that solar insiders are not the only skeptics:

The Breakthrough Energy Coalition’s premise is flawed. The BEC argues that at present there are no workable solutions to tackle the world’s increasing need for energy while reducing carbon emissions at an affordable level. Studies by Goldman Sachs, MIT, McKinsey, the IEA, Shell and others provide data supporting a counter argument — i.e. the solutions exist: namely solar (PV) and wind.

Tough Row To Hoe For Nuclear Energy

We’ll give the last word on TerraPower to the Senior Editor of MIT Technology Review, Richard Martin.

In a brief but eyebrow-raising article last fall, Martin raised some questions aboutTerraPower’s choice of nuclear technology, the traveling wave reactor. Apparently, after spending a considerable amount of time and money on traveling wave R&D, the company has modified its course and is now experimenting with a molten chloride design:

Many nuclear industry observers have been skeptical about the concept from the outset. The traveling wave is a subspecies of a sodium-cooled fast reactor, and the track record of those reactors is not encouraging.

Martin also cites M.V. Ramana, a Princeton nuclear physicist:

“The problem with sodium is that it has been pretty much impossible to prevent leaks… Fast reactors in general have never been commercially viable, and I haven’t seen anything from TerraPower that suggests that their design will fare any better………..

May 4, 2016 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change disruption – the future is happening now


Dahr Jamail | As Climate Disruption Advances, UN Warns: “The Future Is Happening Now” TruthOut, , 02 May 2016 By Dahr Jamail, Truthout | Report Each month as I write these dispatches, I shake my head in disbelief at the rapidity at which anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) is occurring. It’s as though each month I think, “It can’t possibly keep happening at this incredible pace.”

But it does.

By late April, the Mauna Loa Observatory, which monitors atmospheric carbon dioxide, recorded an incredible daily reading: 409.3 parts per million. That is a range of atmospheric carbon dioxide content that this planet has not seen for the last 15 million years, and 2016 is poised to see these levels only continue to increase.

Recently, Dr. James Hansen, a former NASA scientist and longtime whistleblower about the impending dangers of ACD, published a paper with several colleagues showing that ACD will push sea level rise into exponential levels by the end of this century. Their paper shows how melting is actually compounding itself, generating dramatically fast increases in both melting and sea level rise. We may well see the current three millimeter per year sea level rise grow to nearly five centimeters by 2056, and continue to increase in a nonlinear fashion.

Scientists in Antarctica are now astounded at the rapidity of the disintegration of the massive Antarctic ice shelves: It turns out the ice in Antarctica is far more fragile and predisposed to melting than was previously believed.

The situation is already dire enough that the conservative UN warned recently, “The future is happening now,” and called for more urgent measures to be taken to cut global carbon emissions.

“Many people now think that the problem is solved since we reached a nice agreement in Paris last year … but the negative side is that we haven’t changed our behaviors,” Petteri Taalas, secretary general of the World Meteorological Organization, told the media recently.

As if to underscore that point, March global temperatures crushed the 100-year-old record by the greatest margin we’ve seen for any month yet. February was also notably far above the long-term average, enough so that scientists described that month as a “shocker,” as well as it being “a kind of climate emergency.” Then, on the heels of February, the Japan Meteorological Agency released data showing that March was even hotter. NASA data confirms this increase, and also shows that March was 1.65 degrees Celsius higher than the 1951-1980 March average, while February was 1.71 degrees Celsius hotter than the February average over that time period.

NASA data shows that March was also the 11th straight month in a row that set a new global temperature record. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that is the longest such streak ever recorded.

The Japan Meteorological Agency also reported that the first three months of this year were 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial baseline levels……….

May 4, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

Hinkley nuclear plant – one of the most expensive projects ever on Earth

nuclear-costsUK’s proposed nuclear plant is one of the costliest things on Earth proposed Hinkley Point C reactor could cost $35 billion. Jon Fingas , @jonfingas 05.02.16 Nuclear power has been around for decades, but it still isn’t cheap… in fact, it may result in one of the most expensive objects on the planet. Cost estimates for the UK’s proposed Hinkley Point C reactor have crept up to £24 billion (about $35 billion), making even some of humanity’s more ambitious construction projects seem like small potatoes. The Large Hadron Collider cost “just” $5.8 billion to build, the BBC notes. About the only thing that rivals Hinkley on Earth is Chevron’s recently completed $54 billion natural gas plant in Australia. If you’re not picky, the International Space Station’s collective modules top everything at a total of $110 billion.

As for why it would be so absurdly pricey? Greenwich University professor Steve Thomas says it’s due to not just the inherent complexity of nuclear power, but the safety concerns. Tragedies like Chernobyl and Fukushimahave made it clear that disasters are far more costly than getting it right the first time.

Not that this is going to assuage critics of the plant, which has spent several years on ice. Greenpeace contends that it’s not just audacious in an era of budget cuts, but that the money could be better-spent on renewable energy sources like solar and wind farms. And it’s not just because they’re safer, either. They’d likely be finished much sooner, Greenpeace claims, and falling renewable energy prices could make these options more affordable. There’s no certainty that the government will listen to calls for change, but it’s clear that Hinkley Point C is the product of an era when nuclear tech still seemed like the most cost-effective way of powering the population.

May 4, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Ocean’s small shelled animals suffering from acidification due to global warming

climate-changeAcidic oceans are dissolving shells of tiny sea snails, researchers find, ABC News, 2 May 16 By Kieran Jones Small organisms are struggling to survive as the ocean becomes more acidic, researchers say, including tiny sea snails whose shells are dissolving.

Key points:

  • Acidification could severely affect the ocean’s food chain
  • Small organisms are being damaged and scientists fear it could affect large animals
  • A prominent researcher says reducing CO2 emissions would reduce acidification

Researchers fear an increase in acidification in the Southern Ocean could have a severe impact on the food chain off Australia’s south coast.

The concerns come as 350 scientists from more than 30 countries gather in Hobart for an international symposium on the impact of carbon dioxide on the world’s oceans.

Ocean acidification means the pH level of water has decreased, making it inhospitable for small organisms.

CSIRO research scientist Andrew Lenton was part of a team that developed a map of acidification around Australia.

He said the impact was already being felt.

“The changes in Australia are very close to the changes that are occurring everywhere else in the world, so this is really a global problem that Australia is part of,” he said.

“Already there are detectable changes in the Southern Ocean.”

Reducing carbon dioxide emissions would reduce acidification………The impact is also visible in tiny free-swimming sea snails call pteropods, which are a vital part of the diet of many large fish.

Researchers said the percentage of pteropods with dissolving shells observed had doubled since the pre-industrial era and was on track to triple by 2050.

Dr Richard Feely from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said reducing carbon dioxide emissions was the best way to avoid acidification.

“In order for us to address ocean acidification on a global scale we would have to add two billion tonnes of calcium carbonate,” he said………

May 4, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment