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The ‘uncanny’ in Fukushima’s nuclear aftermath: anxiety-provoking attachment to home

Yohei Koyama, doctoral researcher in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Japan and Korea, SOAS, University of London, UK.

“I’m afraid to say it, but we love Chernobyl. It’s become the meaning of our lives. The meaning of our suffering” (Alexievich 1997, 215), says Natalya Roslova. She is one of the voices in Svetlana Alexievich’s Voices from Chernobyl. Her monologue continues:

On the way back, the sun is setting, I say, “Look at how beautiful this land is!” The sun is illuminating the forest and the fields, bidding us farewell. “Yes,” one of the Germans who speaks Russian answers, “it’s pretty, but it’s contaminated.” He has a dosimeter in his hand. And then I understand that the sunset is only for me. This is my land. I’m the one who lives here. (Alexievich 1997, 216)

The monologue reveals her strange affection to Chernobyl which awakens what Freud called the uncanny. In short, the Freudian uncanny is what evokes not only fear and dread but also affection – it is the ambivalence of fear and affection (Freud 1919, 123). And this ambivalence is something that Chernobyl shares with Fukushima.

In this piece, I will shed light on the strange affection of the uncanny. Particularly, I would like to present a story of Momoko who I met during my fieldwork in Fukushima in 2014. Although she was an ordinary 30-something woman in Fukushima, extraordinary was that she forfeited marriage with her fiancé to stay in Fukushima after the nuclear accident. Her story reveals not only her strong attachment to her hometown and willingness to stay there but also her fear of radiation and anxiety about health risks. It is a manifestation of the same kind of strange affection which belongs to the realms of the Freudian uncanny.

***

Ever since Momoko was born, she has always lived in her hometown located in the western part of Fukushima. There are always people who never leave their hometowns and continue to live with their family, and Momoko is one of them. On the contrary, her ex-fiancé is not from Fukushima – his family moved to Momoko’s town when he was a child due to work circumstances. He spent some years in Fukushima, but he left for good to go to a university in Tokyo. Despite the distance, she was happy in the relationship with him for a few years before the accident. Sometimes a rural life felt inconvenient to her, but she could go to Tokyo on some weekends and even travel abroad at least once a year. She said she was not always happy about her rural life, but she was not unhappy about it either. It was perhaps a simple pastoral life, but it was about to change on 11 March 2011.

The nuclear accident was a life-threating experience for Momoko, not to mention the preceding severe earthquake and continuous aftershocks. “I thought I could die by radiation! I guess I was oversentimental and naïve at that time,” she said with a laugh. She confessed that she was feeling her own death for the first time in her life after she saw the multiple explosions at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on television and when everyone started talking about radiation. But after this initial oversentimental phase, she quickly learned radiation protection through study meetings on radiation and its health effects organized by the local government and online research. When I met her in 2014, she showed great familiarity with the terminologies such as different names of radioisotopes, units of radioactivity and radiation dosage, and with the particular situation of radiation contamination in her living environment. This very much resembles how people affected by the Chernobyl accident became heavily informed by bio-scientific knowledge – what Adriana Petryna (2002) described a biomedical subject.

In the meantime, the initial oversentimental phase never ended for her ex-fiancé. He was eager for her to evacuate not only from Fukushima but also from East Japan with his family. Although she knew she would leave her hometown to live with him once she gets married (and she was actually looking forward to the day to come), she could not leave her family and friends who were stuck in the middle of the nuclear crisis. She felt she was a part of them, and more importantly, she felt there was a growing affection for her hometown. Despite knowing the risks she was taking, she wanted to stay for one simple reason – because it was her home. So they were destined for a never-solving dispute about whether or not she should evacuate. She confessed that she had been yelled at and called “foolishly stubborn” by him over the phone. Even though she was trying to understand how much he cared about her, their relationship was falling apart. “After all,” she said, “he didn’t have a ‘home’ like I did. He would have never understood how I felt about my hometown.” A few months after the accident, she was single again.

Momoko expressed her strong affection for her hometown and self-determination to live there which eventually set her apart from her ex-fiancé, but it does not mean that she was not concerned about possible risks. Also, even though she formed her opinions of risk perception and decided to stay on her own terms, such decision making could be an art of balancing the fear with the available knowledge. Moreover, there are displays of real-time spatial radiation dose, everyday monitoring of locally-produced food, examination of human bodies and on-going decontamination works throughout the prefecture. They are all constant reminders of the presence of radiation in everyday life. In such situation, it seemed as if she was in a constant struggle with her fear. She mentioned that her willingness to learn radiation protection could be her fear of radiation just reversed. To use her own word, “I know the spatial dose is a lot lower now and radiation contamination is no longer detected in the food we eat, but it still weighs on my mind. And that’s probably why I keep checking the dose and screening results.”

Thus, Momoko’s affection for her hometown becomes extremely ambivalent which comprises her fear of radiation. In this way, it coincides with the Freudian sense of uncanny. Freud defines the particular state of feeling uncanny as “the frightening that goes back to what was once well known and had long been familiar” (Freud 1919, 123). In other words, the uncanny is something familiar that has long been repressed, and the uncanny effect arises when the repressed returns (Freud 1919, 150). To an extent, Freud’s intention here was to transgress conventional reality by this de-familiarization of the familiar. It is notable that what is de-familiarized overlaps with the excess of reality in Bataille’s sense. But for Freud, such excess could be associated with the attraction of death (1919,148). In fact, Freud (1919, 148) did not forget to mention that the uncanny could be represented by anything associated with death.

It should be noted that for many Japanese people, the word radiation is arguably the signifier of death because of its association with their collective memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Although it was five years ago Momoko closely felt her own, radiation is still present in the everyday life in Fukushima today. In this sense, her life in Fukushima remains as something that brings her own death to her consciousness and her affection for her hometown becomes the uncanny.

…for many Japanese people, the word radiation is arguably the signifier of death because of its association with their collective memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

***

I keep in touch with Momoko by email. In this April, she sent me pictures of cherry blossoms – sakura in Japanese – in full bloom. People eat and drink under fully bloomed sakura throughout Japan every spring, and it is called hanami. It looked like she had it for this year. “I think the sakura in my town is the best after all”, she said.

 

koyama-2-cherry-blossoms-sakura-photographed-by-mokomo-i-think-the-sakura-in-my-home-town-is-the-best-after-all-says-mokomo.jpg

Cherry Blossoms [Sakura] photographed by Mokomo near where she lives in Western Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. ‘I think the sakura in my home town is the best after all’ says Mokomo.

The image of people having hamami in Fukushima could be simply horrific because of radiation contamination. But for her, such image is also a landscape of her home that she loves in spite of the contamination. It is uncanny, but perhaps, it is also a manifestation of her self-determination to live with radiation.

Yohei Koyama is currently undertaking doctoral research in Japan focussing on the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident. His ongoing PhD research, supervised by Dr Griseldis Kirsch, is titled: ‘Life with Radiation: ethnography of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima’.

References:

Alexievich, S. 1997. Voices from Chernobyl. Normal; London: Dalkey Archive Press

Freud, S. 1919. “The uncanny”. In S. Freud. 2003. The uncanny. Translated by D. McLintock. New York: Penguin Books

Petryna. A. 2002. Life exposed: biological citizens after Chernobyl. Princeton, NJ; Oxford, UK: Princeton University Press

Source: https://toxicnews.org/2016/05/03/the-uncanny-in-fukushimas-nuclear-aftermath-anxiety-provoking-attachment-to-home/

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

Fukushima and the Right NOT to Return: Nuclear Displacement in a System for “Hometown Recovery”

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Bags of contaminated material seen near the town of Odaka on the edge of the Fukushima Exclusion Zone.

Dr Liz Maly, Assistant Professor in the International Research institute of Disaster Science (IRIDeS), Tohoku University

On March 11, 2011, the 9.0 magnitude Great East Japan Earthquake (GEJE) unleashed a massive tsunami devastating over 500 square kilometers of Japan’s northeast Tohoku coast. This region has experienced tsunamis every 30-40 years, but the size and impact of the waves of the 3.11 tsunami vastly exceeded any in recent memory or predictions. The tsunami swallowed buildings and places thought to be safe, killing more than 18,000 people and reducing entire communities to rubble. Damage to the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on the coastline of Fukushima Prefecture caused the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl—a nuclear meltdown which TEPCO and government officials did not publicly admit until almost 5 years later.

Over 1,000,000 house were destroyed or damaged. In the days that followed, 470,000 people evacuated to school gymnasiums or other facilities, as aftershocks and blackouts continued and cleanup efforts began. In the following months, disaster survivors moved into various temporary housing provided by government support. Five years later, 174,000 people are still displaced, living interim housing, including 99,000 from Fukushima.

For those fleeing nuclear radiation, evacuation and displacement is more complicated. In the days after 3.11, the evacuation zone around the NPP was increased to a 20km radius; people within 30km were ordered to stay inside and prepare to evacuate if necessary. However, the radioactive plume was carried further northwest by wind and rain on March 15th. Although information about the direction of the fallout was available from SPEEDI (the System for Prediction of Environment Emergency Dose Information), it was not made public until March 23, too late for people unaware they were in or evacuating directly into the path of the highest amounts of radiation.

People from areas near the NPP struggled with evacuation decisions amidst a lack of information. Some towns ordered evacuation following government directives; others outside designated areas ordered evacuation independently. Still areas were not evacuated until weeks later. Some towns’ residents evacuated collectively; others scattered to various locations inside and outside Fukushima Prefecture. Most moved multiple times. So-called “voluntary evacuees” made their own decisions to evacuate from areas officially deemed “safe.” Elderly people, especially those in nursing/care facilities, suffered severely; more people from Fukushima died as a result of physical and emotional stress related to evacuation and displacement than directly from earthquake or tsunami impact.

More people from Fukushima died as a result of physical and emotional stress related to evacuation and displacement than directly from earthquake or tsunami impact.

Restricted areas were later categorized into three zones based on contamination and possibility of residents’ return. Entry is forbidden to the most severely contaminated, euphemistically named “difficult to return” zone 1. In “residence restricted” zone 2, daytime visits are allowed. In zone 3, optimistically designated “preparing to lift evacuation orders,” daytime entry and business activities are allowed. Contamination levels are based on air samples from point sources; some municipalities include multiple zones, which have been revised several times.

Decontamination, the government’s primary measure for reducing the amount of radioactive material, involves cleaning house roofs, etc., and removing natural materials and a layer of topsoil, which is collected in black plastic bags, continuously piling up in growing storage areas.

While the promise of decontamination is every area can be made safe, there are limits.

For example, there is no way to decontaminate forested mountains; every rainfall carries material to nearby communities, in effect re-contaminating them. Government plans rely on the underlying logic of a one-track plan for the future of contaminated towns: decontamination leads to lifting evacuation orders, then residents will move back. Based on level of contamination and speed of decontamination, the progress on this timeline towards its singular goal is shortened or extended.

Lifted restrictions mean people are allowed to move back, not that they will. In September 2015 restrictions were lifted for Naraha Town; 4 months later, only 6% of former residents moved back. Long term impacts of radiation exposure in Fukushima will not be known for years. But regardless of decontamination efforts and assurances of “safety,” many people will chose not to return, especially parents unwilling to risk children’s health. Conclusions about what areas are actually safe, made on a household or individual basis, also cause rifts within families such as “atomic divorce.” However, some people desperately want to move back, primarily elderly residents less concerned about long term health effects. As Japan is already facing a national demographic crises of an aging, shrinking population, the long-term future of these towns is uncertain at best.

Japanese disaster recovery policies strongly support a one-track ‘hometown recovery’ approach. Local governments have the main responsibility for post-disaster recovery planning (and other disaster management activities). With national funding, Tohoku’s local municipalities have created and are implementing recovery plans. Varying by town, common goals include bringing residents back and helping rebuild homes and lives. Temporary housing, also government-supported, is intended as an interim support until people can go back to new houses in old hometowns; the timeline to move out of temporary housing for those in Fukushima is longer, and their future is unclear. For permanent housing reconstruction, support options include provision of access to lots for private housing reconstruction, and public housing for those unable to rebuild on their own. Fukushima Prefecture is building public housing within the prefecture for residents from contaminated area. However, the main projects supporting residential relocation for rebuilding private houses on individual lots away from coastal areas, happening throughout the tsunami-affected area at a scale never before seen in Japan, limit relocation within single municipalities.

For towns affected by the nuclear accident, the recovery planning process has a vast internal contradiction: recovery plans and policies focus exclusively on rebuilding hometowns, but some towns will not be inhabitable for many years, and in others the majority of residents don’t want to return. Existing recovery policies don’t have a way to deal with relocating partial or entire towns. Several contaminated municipalities have established temporary town halls within other towns. But it is difficult for towns to consider a recovery plan that dissolves the town itself.

How can you put a price on the loss of a house, livelihood, and community?

While displaced, “official” evacuees (those from designated evacuation areas) receive compensation payments from TEPCO (actually the Japanese government, since TEPCO was nationalized). Although these are large sums of money, the real question is not if the amount is enough, but how can you put a price on the loss of a house, livelihood, and community? Compensation payments to nuclear evacuees can’t bring back what was lost.

Japan has well-established disaster recovery policies based on social welfare support for survivors. Yet even with a sizable national disaster recovery budget and governance experience, current policies can not adequately address the actual challenges for recovering the lives of nuclear evacuees and their contaminated hometowns. Beyond the disruptions of lives and communities, the cleanup and full decommissioning of the NPP will take decades, and leave a site that will be contaminated for a very long time.

Even with highly developed disaster preparations, such as the case in Japan, it is impossible to reduce all risk from natural disasters. Yet even if a nuclear accident is caused because of a natural hazard, it is in fact a man-made disaster. Everything possible should be done to prevent another nuclear accident, including decommissioning reactors; in Japan many are located near earthquake faults or coastal areas.

Japan is the only county whose people have been victims of both an atomic bombing and a massive nuclear accident. Beyond horrendous experiences of bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, their children and grandchildren suffered stigma and discrimination (sadly, evacuees from Fukushima have also faced discrimination). The experience of having been attacked by atomic bombs did not stop development and promotion of nuclear power in Japan, strongly supported by government. After the Fukushima Daichi accident, there was a massive swell of popular anti-nuclear opposition, and operation of all 44 active nuclear reactors in Japan was stopped. However, in August 2015, despite residents’ strong opposition, the first nuclear reactor restarted operation at the Sendai Nuclear Power Plant in Japan’s southernmost island, Kyushu.

On April 14, 2016, a large earthquake struck Kumamoto City, in Kyushu, followed by a larger M7.3 quake in the early hours of April 16th; strong aftershocks continuing for a week.

As of April 20, 48 people had been confirmed dead, included several people who died during evacuation, and more than 100,000 people had evacuated from damaged homes or those in danger due to aftershocks. Heavy rains caused landslides, sections of highways were destroyed and operation of bullet trains were suspended, making it difficult to get supplies to evacuees, and any potential evacuation from a nuclear accident impossible. Despite predictions that large quakes will continue, potentially triggering more landslides, and vocal calls from inside and outside Japan, the Japanese Nuclear Authority refuses to stop the reactors, which continue to operate nearby. It seems not enough has changed since 3.11; not only do problems of Fukushima’s nuclear evacuees from remain unsolved, they are in real danger of being recreated.

Dr Liz Maly’s work centers on disaster recovery, housing reconstruction and community-based recovery planning. She has previously researched post-Katrina and post-Sandy housing recovery and land use policy in the USA, as well as the Central Java Earthquake in Indonesia. Dr Maly continues to work on long-term community recovery for groups impacted by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Her website ‘Recovering Tohoku’ is highly recommended, and you can follow her on twitter here.

Fukushima and the Right NOT to Return: Nuclear Displacement in a System for “Hometown Recovery”

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

Children Suffer Nuclear Impact Worldwide

Do children suffer worldwide from atomic power? Absolutely. CCTV host Margaret Harrington anchored a panel with Maggie Gundersen, Caroline Phillips, and Chiho Kaneko from Fairewinds Energy Education to discuss the health risks to children around the world from operating nuclear power reactors and their burgeoning waste. In the aftermath of the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi, mothers in Japan especially bear the responsibility to protect their children. As a result, they experience greater hardships in an environment where just expressing one’s legitimate concerns about radiation contamination is seen as a treasonous act. Meanwhile in Ukraine, 30-years following the atomic disaster at Chernobyl, the repercussions of massive radioactive contamination and government zoning continue to severely impact children living within 50 miles of Chernobyl’s epicenter. The United States is not immune to these worries and contentions as Tritium, Strontium-90, and Cesium 137 are radioactive releases that threaten the health of children living nearby leaky atomic power reactors and nuclear waste dumps. Learn more by watching this episode of Nuclear Free Future as the women of Fairewinds lend their voices to protect the children.

http://www.fairewinds.org/nuclear-energy-education//cctv

May 6, 2016 Posted by | Nuclear, World Nuclear | , | 1 Comment

Global danger in transporting nuclear wastes by plane

Airplane dangerWhether it is transported by sea, or even by air, there is real concern over the potential for an accident or a malicious attack that would put the public at risk.

How many nuclear weapons could be made if such material got into the wrong hands? Why risk global nuclear security by transporting this waste across the Atlantic by air?

We call for this deal to be cancelled forthwith. The waste should be stored on-site at Dounreay and not moved over 6,000 miles away.

UK-US air transports of high enriched uranium: global security at risk for commercial gain, Ecologist Ernie Galsworthy / NFLA 3rd May 2016 Planned air transports of high-enriched uranium from Dounreay in Scotland to the US state of Tennessee would risk of accident or a terrorist seizure of weapon-usable nuclear material.  The motive for the transport appears to be purely commercial – and would thus put the public at needless risk for the sake of a cut-price nuclear waste / fuel deal between US and UK authorities.

There has been a recent flurry of media reports suggesting that a proposed transport of radioactive materials from the Caithness Dounreay site to the United States could be sent by plane. Continue reading

May 6, 2016 Posted by | safety, UK, USA | Leave a comment

Continuing nuclear waste leak at Hanford

Hanford-waste-tanksNuclear Waste Leak Continues at ‘America’s Fukushima“ https://weather.com/news/news/nuclear-waste-leak-continues
The government has requested help from private contractors to construct a new, permanent facility that will have the capacity to hold the waste. However, the project to cover up “America’s Fukushima” will cost an estimated $100 billion and take at least 50 years to complete, according to Newsweek. 33 Left Ill by Radioactive Fumes By Andrew MacFarlane weather.com May 4 2016 A nuclear waste leak at the Hanford Site in Washington state that rapidly intensified last month has left 33 workers ill from possible exposure to chemical vapors, while others scramble to pump the remaining waste out of the storage facility.

Back in 2011, a leak was found on the inner hull of one of the site’s 28 double-wall storage tanks. The previous leak posed an insignificant threat, but workers came across an even larger leak in recent weeks while attempting to clear the inner hull of its remaining waste.

The number of those who have been reported ill as a result of the leak climbed into the 30s after six workers sought medical evaluation Monday, suspecting exposure to radioactive fumes left them unwell, according to the Tri-City Herald. A majority of the affected have been cleared to return to work, but voice a fear of suffering from long-term or neurological sickness.

Crews at the United States Department of Energy’s storage site in Hanford were alerted by leak detection alarms the morning of April 17, and after lowering a camera into the affected area, the staff found 8.4 inches of radioactive and chemically toxic waste had poured between the inner and outer walls of the tank, KING 5 reported.

 This is catastrophic,” former site employee Mike Geffre said soon after the leak was found. “This is probably the biggest event to ever happen in tank farm history. The double-shell tanks were supposed to be the saviors of all saviors.”

However, a State Representative in Seattle argued that the of the 56 million gallons of radioactive chemicals stored at the Hanford site, two-thirds of the total substance is radioactive waste being held in unfit tanks made sometime between 1940 and 1970.

The tanks “were not supposed to last more than 10 to 20 years, 20 years was a dream in the first place,” Gerry Pollet told RT.com. “Some of them didn’t last twenty years and we had a small explosion in the 1950s where hot waste boiled, created a steam explosion under the tank, and we were lucky we didn’t have half of Eastern Washington permanently evacuated.”
The large puncture causing the devastating leak is thought to have occurred while the three-week long pumping was taking place. An estimated 20,000 gallons of waste remain in the 800,000-gallon AY-102 tank, Q13 FOX reports.To make matters worse, a second double-shelled tank has been reported with a leak. AY-101, a tank very similar to AY-102, has had “higher-than-expected radioactivity readings” from the tank’s continuous air monitor, according to a recent KING 5 report. The new leak is an unsettling find, considering the 45-year-old AY-101 was built with thicker steel and with advanced construction methods.

“Simply put, Hanford is nearly out of double-shell tank space,” said Hanford Challenge executive director Tom Carpenter. “[There] is no other realistic option but to begin building new tanks immediately.”

May 6, 2016 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear Regulatory Commission to re-analyse costs of potential impact of severe accident At Indian Point

Indian Point nuclear plant, which the government of New York would prefer to close. Photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal NewsNRC reverses decision on Indian Point accident analysis, Westfair By Ryan Deffenbaugh May 5, 2016 Federal regulators used the wrong data to analyze the potential impact of a severe accident at Indian Point Energy Center and will have to redo the study, a panel of commissioners with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled Wednesday.

The commission reversed an earlier administrative ruling and found that the NRC analysis of the costs of a severe accident at the Buchanan nuclear facility relied on incorrect data, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act. The decision directs NRC staff to redo its analysis using other sources of data.

“While typically we decline to second-guess the [Atomic Safety and Licensing Board] on its fact-specific conclusions, here the decision contains obvious material factual errors and could be misleading, warranting clarification,” NRC officials wrote in the decision.

The NRC study was challenged by New York Attorney Eric Schneiderman, who said it systematically undercounted the costs and impacts associated with severe reactor accidents at Indian Point.

His office put out a statement Wednesday applauding the ruling.

“The commissioners’ decision requires the NRC staff to do what should have been done years ago: provide an accurate account of cost-effective upgrades at this aging nuclear plant that can prevent or minimize severe accidents,” Schneiderman said. “While some might prefer to treat severe accidents as impossibilities, the millions of people who live and work near Indian Point deserve nothing less than a full and fair assessment of the plant upgrades needed to protect them against such accidents.”……..

The federal licenses for both Indian Point’s reactors have expired and Entergy has applied for a 20-year renewal from the NRC. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has fought against the renewal, arguing that Indian Point’s location in a densely populated area makes it unsafe. He reiterated that view in a statement following the NRC’s decision Wednesday.

“Clearly, this facility poses too great a risk to the millions of people who live and work nearby,” Cuomo said. “We will work closely with NRC staff and continue to monitor Indian Point’s daily operations to ensure that a proper analysis is done regarding any unacceptable dangers to ensure that the public is protected at all times.”http://westfaironline.com/79195/nrc-reverses-decision-on-indian-point-accident-analysis/

May 6, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Former Electricite de France SA Chief Financial Officer says he quit because of financial risks of Hinkley nuclear project

scrutiny-on-costsflag-franceflag-UKEx-EDF CFO Quit Over Financial Risks From U.K. Nuclear Project, Bloomberg,    FrancoisDeBeaup   

    • Piquemal says French utility needs to strengthen balance sheet
    • EDF can’t afford significant downgrade in rating: Piquemal

Former Electricite de France SA Chief Financial Officer Thomas Piquemal said he quit two months ago to highlight the risks of proceeding with the 18 billion-pound ($26 billion) Hinkley Point nuclear power project without additional financing.

The timetable pushed by EDF Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jean-Bernard Levy for an investment decision on the U.K. project meant there wouldn’t have been time to strengthen the utility’s balance sheet, Piquemal told a hearing at the National Assembly in Paris. That would have left the company reliant on its 85 percent shareholder, the French state, providing funding and threatened EDF with the same fate as troubled nuclear-reactor builder Areva SA, he said.

“A new nuclear project is an extra risk for a company,” Piquemal said in his first public statement since quitting. “I didn’t want to approve a decision that could leave EDF in Areva’s situation one day.”……

Financial Strain

Speculation has mounted over the future of Hinkley Point since Piquemal resigned amid concerns the project would put EDF under too much financial strain, while labor unions have called for a three-year delay until similar nuclear plants built by the company start operating in France and China…….
EDF has held off on making a final investment decision even after forming a partnership with China General Nuclear Power Corp. and securing guaranteed power prices from the U.K. government at almost three times the current market rate for 35 years.Rating companies will probably downgrade EDF because large nuclear projects such as Hinkley Point will increase its risk profile, the ex-CFO said. While EDF had no financing problems at the end of 2015, it can’t afford a “significant” downgrade that would push its hybrid debt into the “junk” category because it would complicate a potential refinancing from 2020, Piquemal said. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-05-04/ex-edf-cfo-quit-over-financial-risks-from-u-k-nuclear-project

 

May 6, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

Sanders and Clinton split on future of Indian Point nuclear station

USA election 2016New York nuclear plant’s future further divides Sanders and Clinton  Sanders says Indian Point facility is ‘a catastrophe waiting to happen’, but former New York senator says he’s late to the issue and site simply needs more oversight, Guardian,  8 Apr 16,  The Indian Point Energy Center, a controversial and ageing nuclear plant near New York City, has split the Democratic presidential candidates .

As campaigning continued before the New York primary on 19 April, Bernie Sanders called the facility “a catastrophe waiting to happen”. Hillary Clinton said only that it needed more oversight.

A senior member of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the Guardian “the whole New York metropolitan area is potentially imperiled by an accident at Indian Point”.

Last week, the company that runs Indian Point revealed that 227 bolts holding the interior of a nuclear reactor at the site have “degraded” or gone missing. In February, the plant reported that a radioactive material, tritium, had leaked into groundwater.

The plant, about 40 miles north of midtown Manhattan on the eastern bank of the Hudson river, has a 40-year history of accidents, fires and complaints. Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into February’s “unacceptable” leak. He has called for the plant to close.

“In my view, we cannot sit idly by and hope that the unthinkable will never happen,” Sanders said in a statement. “It makes no sense to me to continue to operate a decaying nuclear reactor within 25 miles of New York City where nearly 10 million people live.”

The Vermont senator elaborated on his stance, calling for the US to phase out nuclear plants along with more polluting resources such as fossil fuels.

“Nuclear power is and always has been a dangerous idea because there is no good way to store nuclear waste,” he said…….

The disagreement between Sanders and Clinton mirrors their stances on fracking for natural gas. The senator has called for a ban, citinggrowing evidence that drilling causes earthquakes. The former secretary of state has called for intense regulation of the industry.

“I want the federal government to regulate much more toughly than we have in the past,” she said on Monday.

In 2014 Cuomo signed a law that banned fracking in New Yorkhttp://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/apr/07/bernie-sanders-hillary-clinton-indian-point-nuclear-plant

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

UK nuclear parts made at French plant in fakery probe

 Telegraph   Emily Gosdenenergy editor 4 MAY 2016 Parts of the Sizewell B nuclear power station in Suffolk were made at a French plant being investigated over possible fake manufacturing records, EDF Energy has confirmed.

EDF said components destined for the proposed Hinkley Point C plant were also made at the Areva-owned Le Creusot plant, where anomalies in documents related to 400 nuclear components have so far been identified.The revelations come as EDF’s former chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal, broke his silence to explain his fears over the Hinkley project that led to his resignation in March.

Mr Piquemal said he had sought a three-year delay to Hinkley as he was not prepared to “bet 60 to 70pc of [EDF’S] equity on a technology that has not yet proven that it can work and which takes 10 years to build”.

He said the proposed reactor technology involved “major construction risk”.

EDF has already postponed a decision on the £18bn Hinkley project until September as it consults with unions on a plan to shore up its balance sheet, but the problems at the Le Creusot plant have raised further doubts about the project and as well as nuclear safety at existing plants………http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/05/04/uk-nuclear-parts-made-at-french-plant-in-fakery-probe/

May 6, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Climate change is taking its toll on water supplies, and especially – on children

As Global Temperatures Rise, Children Must Be Central Climate Change Debates
Rising temperatures, rising sea levels and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather will all alter children’s lives and the lives of their own children. And yet, children are largely left out of discussions about appropriate responses to climate change, according to a journal released by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution.

Forecasts suggest that by 2050, the world could see 200 million environmental migrants, many of whom would be children. For this reason and others, children should be central to such climate change debates. They–as well as future generations–have a much larger stake in the outcome than current generations, authors argue in the latest volume of Future of Children.
https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160504121330.htm

The biggest threat of climate change is in the water, or lack of it: World Bank
A lack of water will knock down food production and economic growth in China, India, the Middle East, Africa and large population areas, a new report says.
http://www.smh.com.au/world/the-biggest-threat-of-climate-change-is-in-the-water-or-lack-of-it-world-bank-20160504-golptd.html

May 6, 2016 Posted by | climate change | Leave a comment

Month after month, global average temperatures reach record heights

climate-changeApril joins parade of record global temperatures, making it 12 months in a row,SMH, May 3, 2016  Environment Editor, The Sydney Morning Herald 

It’s the sort of anniversary you don’t want to celebrate.

Early reports indicate that April was another record hot month – by some margin – making it 12 months in a row that have set new high marks for heat.

Eric Holthaus, a US-based meteorologist took to Twitter with an estimate that sea and land-surface temperatures would again top 1 degree compared with the average for 1951-80 period used by NASA.

The previous biggest anomaly for April was recorded in 2010 at 0.83 degrees, implying that last month was easily the warmest ever registered for the month.

If confirmed by major meteorological agencies within coming weeks, the April figures would continue the remarkably warm start to 2016, with each month among a handful over the most abnormally hot months in more than 130 years of global figures.

Australia is also exceptionally warm. During the first four months of 2016, average mean temperatures were 1.28 degrees above the 1961-90 period used by the Bureau of Meteorology for its benchmark.

The previous record to this point of the year was 1.16 degrees in 2005, Blair Trewin, senior bureau climatologist, told Fairfax Media……….http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/april-joins-parade-of-record-global-temperatures-making-it-12-months-in-a-row-20160502-gokkg2.html

May 6, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

What do we know about North Korea’s nuclear program?

flag-N-KoreaNorth Korea’s nuclear program: What do we know?  Euan McKirdy, CNN 5 May 16 Despite international condemnation, North Korea has ramped up its quest to become a nuclear power, with weapons tests a very visible sign of leader Kim Jong Un’s ambitions.  This year alone has seen at least eight signs of either nuclear tests or delivery methods. Some analysts believe the regime may be gearing up for another nuclear test — its fifth.

How advanced is North Korea’s nuclear program? Each test offers an opportunity to learn from mistakes either in launch capability or the nuclear program.
Joel Wit, a senior fellow at the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, says the regime is pursuing technological developments, both on the nuclear and delivery systems sides.
In terms of developing the nuclear technology, each test gives Pyongyang’s nuclear scientists an opportunity to gain invaluable data that is helping them miniaturize the devices, reduce the amount of nuclear material needed for each bomb, and increase their yield.
They are also developing missiles that can reach targets from South Korea to the U.S., and developing more advanced technology, such as solid fuel rocket engines, larger liquid fuel rockets and submarine-based launches.
The aim, he says, is “first to grow size of nuclear stockpile, and increase the type of delivery systems to ensure second strike capacity.”………..
What are its delivery capabilities?

North Korea’s missile development program began in the 1960s, and by 1971 the country had signed an agreement with China to develop and produce ballistic missiles. It has also partnered with Iran on missile development.
By 1984, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, it had developed the Hwasong-5, a homegrown version of the Scud missile.
Since then it has developed or is developing as many as eight delivery vehicles. The submarine-based Bukgeukseong-1, a Polaris-variant, is the latest in development. North Korea is believed to have fired one off the east coast of the Korean peninsula in April.
Its intermediate-range Nodong (also called Rodong) was developed in the late 1980s and successfully test-launched in 1993.
North Korea’s arsenal has weapons which can potentially reach the continental United States. The three-stage, liquid fueled ballistic/space launch missile Kwangmyongsong, also known as the Unha-3 mod or 2 Taepodong-3, has a range of 12,000 km (7,456 miles).
n February, North Korea said it had launched a satellite into space, triggering international condemnation and a strong reaction from an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
North Korea says the launch is for scientific and “peaceful purposes,” but it is widely viewed by other nations as a front to test a ballistic missile, especially coming on the heels of North Korea’s purported hydrogen bomb test a month earlier.
In March, Pyongyang announced it had miniaturized its nuclear warheads so they could be fitted to ballistic missiles.http://edition.cnn.com/2016/05/05/asia/north-korea-nuclear-program-advancement/

May 6, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Cameco cuts back on mining uranium, as market stays slumped

burial.uranium-industryCameco scales back uranium production, WNN, 22 Apr 16Cameco is suspending production at the Rabbit Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan, curtailing production at its US uranium operations, and reducing production at McArthur River/Key Lake in response to market conditions, the company announced yesterday.

Work to transition the underground Rabbit Lake mine to care and maintenance will begin immediately and is expected to be completed by the end of August. Production at the US in situ leach operations cannot cease immediately because of the nature of the technology, and will instead decrease over time as head grades decline. The development of new wellfields will be deferred.

“Unfortunately, continued depressed market conditions do not support the operating and capital costs needed to sustain production at Rabbit Lake and the US operations,” CEO Tim Gitzel said. “These measures will allow us to continue delivering value to Cameco’s many stakeholders and support the long-term health of our company. We will provide assistance to those affected by these decisions,” he said……

The company will also reduce 2016 production at the McArthur River/Key Lake operation in Saskatchewan to 19 million pounds U3O8 (7308 tU), down from 20 million pounds (7693 tU), in response to a currently oversupplied uranium market…….http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/UF-Cameco-scales-back-uranium-production-2204167.html

May 6, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

Respiratory diseases, radioactive fumes – concerns in St Louis County, USA

landfill West Lake St LouisAIR POLLUTION, ATOMIC RISKS GROW AS TOXIC DUMP SMOLDER , URBAN NEWS SERVICEPart 2 of a 2 part series.  For part 1 visit “Near Ferguson, Ghosts of Hiroshima Haunt Fuming Landfill“.

BRIDGETON, Missouri – They can’t breathe.

Residents of this community near Ferguson — site of 2014’s police-involved shooting death of teenager Michael Brown — have complained for years about lung troubles caused by toxic fumes tied to radioactive waste linked to the atomic bombs that flattened Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services will release a study in June to gauge these concerns. Many here call this step positive, small and too late; a slow-moving, subterranean landfill fire that began in 2010, could boost the site’s toxic-gas emissions.

Some locals have been diagnosed with cancer, which they connect to nuclear waste illegally dumped at the West Lake Landfill by the Cotter Corporation in 1973. This radioactive refuse is from World War II’s top-secret Manhattan Project.

Thanks to these conditions, residents who seek government-assisted relocation feel abandoned. Lengthy fights over who ultimately should control the site have slowed cleanup efforts……..

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reportedly investigating the issue following a September 2014 study by Missouri’s health department. It found that, between 1996 and 2011, the ZIP codes around the landfill included statistically significant, higher incidences of leukemia plus cancers of the colon, prostate, kidney, bladder and brain.

“[The] recent study by St. Louis County is actually the first time that a government entity has asked people if they feel ill,” said Laura Barrett, executive director for the Center for Health, Environment and Justice…….

A 1988 Nuclear Regulatory Commission study revealed that its inspectors discovered in 1974 that the Cotter Corporation — which agreed to buy the atomic refuse from the federal government and dispose of it — mixed this waste with 39,000 tons of topsoil. Cotter illegally covered the West Lake Landfill with this irradiated earth in 1973, according to the nuclear agency’s report.

“It’s not in barrels. Some of it’s mixed in the soil and the garbage,” said Chapman. “Some of it’s just lying on the surface for over 40 years, and none of us knew about this.”……https://urbannewsservice.com/investigations/air-pollution-atomic-risks-grow-toxic-dump-smolder/

May 6, 2016 Posted by | environment, USA | 1 Comment

Leaked TTIP documents cast doubt on EU-US trade deal

Greenpeace says internal documents show US attempts to lower or circumvent EU protection for environment and public health, Guardian,  , 2 May 16, Talks for a free trade deal between Europe and the US face a serious impasse with “irreconcilable” differences in some areas, according to leaked negotiating texts.

The two sides are also at odds over US demands that would require the EU to break promises it has made on environmental protection.

President Obama said last week he was confident a deal could be reached. But the leaked negotiating drafts and internal positions, which were obtained byGreenpeace and seen by the Guardian, paint a very different picture………

Jorgo Riss, the director of Greenpeace EU, said: “These leaked documents give us an unparalleled look at the scope of US demands to lower or circumvent EU protections for environment and public health as part of TTIP. The EU position is very bad, and the US position is terrible. The prospect of a TTIP compromising within that range is an awful one. The way is being cleared for a race to the bottom in environmental, consumer protection and public health standards.”

US proposals include an obligation on the EU to inform its industries of any planned regulations in advance, and to allow them the same input into EU regulatory processes as European firms.

American firms could influence the content of EU laws at several points along the regulatory line, including through a plethora of proposed technical working groups and committees.

“Before the EU could even pass a regulation, it would have to go through a gruelling impact assessment process in which the bloc would have to show interested US parties that no voluntary measures, or less exacting regulatory ones, were possible,” Riss said……. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/may/01/leaked-ttip-documents-cast-doubt-on-eu-us-trade-deal

May 6, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, EUROPE, politics international, USA | Leave a comment