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Japanese photojournalist documents nuclear crises in Chernobyl, Fukushima


Ryuichi Hirokawa, a Japanese photojournalist, has documented the world’s two worst nuclear crises — in Chernobyl three decades ago, and the 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

With this year marking the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, Hirokawa, 72, has released a photo book titled “Chernobyl and Fukushima” compiling his reports on the lives of victims of the catastrophes.

After years of reporting on the two disasters, Hirokawa said he has concluded that nuclear power “is not something human beings can handle or control.”

Born in 1943 in a Japanese community in Tianjin, China, Hirokawa was the first non-Soviet journalist to enter the Exclusion Zone following the accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in April 1986.

He has since visited the area more than 50 times and established in April 1991 a foundation for children suffering from leukemia, thyroid cancer and other diseases caused by exposure to a high level of radiation, in response to requests from their mothers.

The foundation has provided these children with medicine and medical equipment and also built recuperation facilities in Ukraine and Belarus.

One of the photos from Hirokawa’s book shows a 14-year-old Ukrainian girl named Tanya lying on a bed at her home. She was 4 years old and lived in a town close to the Chernobyl plant when the disaster occurred.

A decade later, she suddenly felt agonizing pain all over her body. Her thyroid cancer had spread, including to her brain.

I could do nothing for the girl. All I could do was watch her die,” Hirokawa said. “It was that feeling of helplessness that drove me to support sick children there.”

A quarter of a century later, another devastating nuclear disaster occurred at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings’ Fukushima No. 1 plant.

When Hirokawa rushed to the scene shortly after the calamity started, the needle of his radiation detector went off the scale in surrounding areas, including in the town of Futaba and the village of Iitate.

It was shocking because it never happened even in Chernobyl,” he said.

Maps comparing radiation levels in Chernobyl and Fukushima, which he attached at the end of his book, show that radiation levels detected in still inhabited areas in Fukushima are almost the same as those in ruined Chernobyl villages.

I can’t tolerate the Japanese government’s policy of allowing children to stay in areas contaminated by such high levels of radiation,” he said.

He has also worked to halt operations of the Sendai nuclear plant in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, in the wake of a series of strong earthquakes in Kyushu in April.

Hirokawa sent a petition to Kyushu Electric Power Co. calling on the utility to immediately halt the Sendai plant, which is the only nuclear plant operating in Japan.

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

Tepco admits molten nuclear fuel is transferred in multiple places of Reactor 2

Tepco-admits-molten-nuclear-fuel-is-scattered-in-multiple-places-of-Reactor-2-july 3 2016.png



Tepco admitted the molten fuel is transferred to multiple places in Reactor 2 by 6/30/2016.

Tepco had been implementing the muon scanning investigation with KEK (High Energy Accelerator Research Organization).

Tepco describes the research result as it is highly likely that major part of the molten nuclear fuel remains in the bottom of the reactor with structures of the inside of the reactor. They also detected a part of the molten fuel on the wall of the reactor. This means the molten fuel was separated and remaining in different locations. Tepco did not mention the percentage of the detected fuel.

Tepco did not identify the location either so it is not clear if the fuel remains inside of the Reactor Pressure Vessel or its outer structure, Primary Containment Vessel.

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

As Japan re-embraces nuclear power, safety warnings persist

An aerial view shows the No.1 and No.2 reactor buildings at Kyushu Electric Power's Sendai nuclear power station in Satsumasendai

An aerial view shows the No.1 (L) and No.2 reactor buildings at Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai nuclear power station in Satsumasendai, Kagoshima prefecture, Japan, August 11, 2015, in this photo taken by Kyodo. REUTERS/Kyodo

Japan’s re-embrace of nuclear power, on display last week with the recertification of two aging reactors, is prompting some critics to warn that Tokyo is neglecting the lessons of Fukushima.

In the first such step since the 2011 disaster, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on June 20 approved Kansai Electric Power Co’s application to extend the life of two reactors beyond 40 years.

As it became clear the NRA was going to allow the extensions, a former commissioner broke a silence maintained since he left the agency in 2014 and said “a sense of crisis” over safety prompted him to go public and urge more attention to earthquake risk.

Kunihiko Shimazaki, who was a commissioner from 2012 to 2014, said a powerful quake in April that killed 69 on Kyushu island showed the risk to some of Japan’s 42 operable nuclear reactors was being underestimated.

“I cannot stand by without doing anything. We may have another tragedy and, if that happens, it could not be something that was ‘beyond expectations’,” he said, referring to a common description of the catastrophic chain of events after the earthquake and tsunami that led to the Fukushima meltdowns.

The NRA has said it would take into account Shimazaki’s position in some of its assessments.

Separately when asked about the operating extensions of the reactors, a spokesman for the regulator referred Reuters to remarks by agency chairman, Shunichi Tanaka, on the day of the extensions, when he said: “It does not guarantee absolute safety but it means the reactors have cleared the safety standards.”

According to the World Nuclear Association, an industry body, early reactors were designed for a life of about 30 years, while newer plants can operate up to 60 years.

A 2012 Japanese law also limits the life of all reactors to 40 years, allowing for license extensions only in exceptional circumstances.


The meltdowns five years ago at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi plant after an earthquake and tsunami – the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 – were blamed in an official report on lax oversight and collusion between operators and regulators.

Kyushu Electric Power is the only utility that has been cleared to restart two reactors at its Sendai plant, while other utilities have been blocked so far by legal action from nearby residents. One more reactor may restart later this month.

After Fukushima, Japan revamped its regulator and tasked it with implementing new standards that the NRA chairman has repeatedly said are among the world’s toughest.

But an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review this year made 26 suggestions and recommendations to address shortcomings – such as a lack of communication between departments and agencies, and failures on basic radiation standards – and cited only two examples of good practice.

Tokyo is revising the law to ensure there can be unscheduled inspections of nuclear sites, a standard practice in many countries, according to a NRA document, and the regulator is taking steps to improve its internal processes.

A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Japanese regulator was still young and it would take time to build up a strong safety culture.

But opinion polls show that more than 50 percent of Japan’s population remain opposed to nuclear power following Fukushima, even if using other fuels boosts electricity prices.

The NRA faces accusations that it is caving into pressure to quickly restart an industry that used to supply a third of Japan’s electricity.

“The regulator is the guarantor for the population, not the manufacturers or the utilities, and it is failing,” said Mycle Schneider, an independent analyst and one of the authors of an annual report on the world nuclear industry.

“The first level where the NRA is failing is every single day in their oversight of Fukushima,” he said.

This week a power failure at the Fukushima site knocked out radiation monitoring and the freezing of a so-called ice wall to isolate the damaged reactors. Cooling and water circulation to keep the reactors in a safe state were not affected.

A NRA spokesman said it had not issued instructions to Tokyo Electric or released a media statement because no law was broken.

The government is not pressuring the NRA to approve restarts or interfering in its operations, said Yohei Ogino, a deputy director for energy policy in the industry ministry.

But he said the government will encourage operators “to voluntarily beef up safety, as the country has lost faith in nuclear power.”

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

Nuclear bomb tests on Bikini Atoll – the 70th anniversary

text-relevant70th Anniversary of Operation Crossroads Atomic Tests in Bikini Atoll, July 1946

EXCELLENT VIDEOS and PHOTOS,  National Security Archive Government Films and Photographs Depict Test “Able” on 1 July 1946


highly-recommendedRemoval of 167 Bikinians from the Atoll Preceded the Atomic Tests

National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 553  July 1, 2016 Edited by William Burr with Stav Geffner For more iThe Atomic Tests at Bikini Atoll, July 1946nformation contact: William Burr at 202/994-7000 or

The Atomic Tests at Bikini Atoll, July 1946 Washington, D.C., July 1, 2016 – Seventy years ago this month a joint U.S Army-Navy task force staged two atomic weapons tests at Bikini atoll in the Marshall Islands, the first atomic explosions since the bombings of Japan in August 1945. Worried about its survival in an atomic war, the Navy sought the tests in order to measure the effects of atomic explosions on warships and other military targets. The test series was named Operation Crossroads by the task force’s director, Rear Admiral William Blandy. The first test, Able, took place on 1 July 1946. Of the two tests, the second, Baker, on 25 July 1946, was the most dangerous and spectacular, producing iconic images of nuclear explosions. A third test was scheduled, but canceled. Photographs and videos posted today by the National Security Archive document Crossroads, focusing on the Able test.

Also documented is the U.S. Navy’s removal, in early March 1946, of 167 Pacific islanders from Bikini, their ancestral home, so that the Navy and the Army could prepare for the tests. The Bikinians had the impression that the relocation would be temporary but the islands remain uninhabitable due to subsequent nuclear testing in the atoll……….

Video gallery

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July 4, 2016 Posted by | indigenous issues, OCEANIA, Reference, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Governments’ denial and dismissal of climate change – a crime against humanity

poster-climate-FranceThe climate Titanic And The Melting Icebergs, COUNTER    by  — June 30, 2016

In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act” –George Orwell

March 2016 set a new record temperature for that time of year, according to NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies. The global temperature was 2.30 °F (1.28 °C) warmer than the average for March from 1951 to 1980, which is used as a baseline.

In total, CO2 levels have risen from ~280 to ~407 ppm since the 18th century, currently rising at a rate of ~3 to 4 ppm/year as measured at Mouna Loa observatory, Hawaii

Little mention is made of the existential threats posed by the climate and nuclear issues in the context of the current elections in the US and Australia.

According to the world’s climate research institutions and the bulk of the peer reviewed scientific literature, the Earth has now entered a critical stage at which amplifying feedback effects to global warming transcend points of no return. Manifestations of a shift in state of the climate include; current rise in CO2 at 3.3 parts per million per year, the fastest recorded for the last 65 million years; extreme rises in Arctic temperatures; a plethora of extreme weather events such as cyclones, floods and fires; demise of habitats such as the Great Barrier Reef where corals die due to high water temperatures and coral bleaching; and other developments.

The extreme rise of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the onset of the industrial age, and the corresponding rise in mean global temperatures as a direct result of the rise in carbon gases, pose an existential risk to the future of nature and civilization.

The consequences of further burning of the vast carbon reserves buried in sediments and in permafrost and bogs can only result in a mass extinction of species which rivals that of the five great mass extinctions in Earth history.

Thus, according to James Hansen, NASA’s former chief climate scientist:

Burning all fossilfuels would create a different planet than the one that humanity knows. The palaeoclimaterecord and ongoing climate change make it clear that the climate systemwould be pushed beyond tipping points, setting in motion irreversible changes,including ice sheet disintegration with a continually adjusting shoreline, exterminationof a substantial fraction of species on the planet, and increasingly devastatingregional climate extremes.”

Conducted with the knowledge of the consequences of continuing combustion of carbon constitutes an act whose lingual description exhausts the resources of the English language. The term‘crimes against humanity and nature’ comes to mind.

Is there anything in international and national laws which can avert the continuation of current carbon emissions?

The manifest paralysis of the global political system in the face of the climate impasse, evidenced by the failure of a succession of UN Framework Conventions on Climate Change to undertake meaningful steps to reduce CO2 emissions, requires a search for alternative avenues to limit the deleterious consequences of continuing carbon emissions as reported by the IPCC Working Group II, and pending the report by Working Group III.

Traditionally, political and economic negotiations aim ata compromise. Unfortunately, no negotiation is possible with the basic laws of physicswhich dominate the climate system.

Do global and national legalsystems offer any possibilities in this regard?

In exploring potential legal restrictions on carbon emission, I believe the following international and nationalinstrumentsare relevant.

Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the international Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum,which says:

“…crimes against humanity are particularly odious offences in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy (although the perpetrators need not identify themselves with this policy) or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority…”………

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

Confusion on parties’ nuclear policies, as Japan’s election nears

Buy politiciansflag-japanParties vague on atomic power pledges in run-up to Upper House election 

JIJI  The election pledges issued by the top political parties show they are divided and uninformed about how fast Japan should reduce its dependence on atomic power and what its energy goals for 2030 should be.

As the pivotal July 10 Upper House election approaches, the parties clearly differ over the government’s fiscal 2030 energy mix, which states that Japan will be procuring 20 to 22 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors by that time.

Five years after the Fukushima disaster shattered Japan’s nuclear safety myth, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party is promoting nuclear power as a stable, low-cost energy source, and says it intends to slowly reduce Japan’s atomic dependency.

Komeito, its coalition ally, pledges to create a society that does not rely on nuclear power. Although it is opposed to building new reactors, it won’t oppose the restarting of those idled in the wake of the triple core meltdown in Fukushima. Komeito also advocates a very gradual move away from nuclear energy.

The ruling coalition parties’ positions reflect the government’s goal: to lower Japan’s dependency on atomic power around 6 points from 28.6 percent — the level it was at before the Fukushima disaster hobbled the industry in March 2011.

Both aim to bring new and old reactors online if they pass the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety screenings, because more than 30 will be needed to achieve the government’s targeted energy mix.

In the opposition camp, the Democratic Party has vowed to rid Japan of nuclear reactors by the 2030s. While the top opposition party will accept reactor restarts, its policy is to strictly maintain the 40-year basic operating limit on reactors. The DP believes its goal will be achievable if no new reactors are built.

The Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party flatly oppose restarting any nuclear reactors.

Another, Osaka Ishin no Kai, says reactors should not be restarted unless local agreements are enshrined in law as a precondition.

All of the major parties, however, refuse to elaborate on how they will ensure the expansion of alternative energy sources, which are being choked off by Japan’s old and divided power grid.

In line with the government’s target, the LDP and Komeito have promised to almost double the proportion of renewable energy to 22 to 24 percent by fiscal 2030. The DP’s goal is 30 percent and the JCP’s goal is 40 percent.

Since no party has provided hard details on how to further the use of renewable energy and what that will cost, voters need to watch whether the parties will offer any convincing explanations about their pledges during the campaign for the Upper House election.

July 4, 2016 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Delay £18bn building of Hinkley nuclear station – EDF workers’ committee

text Hinkley cancelledflag-franceEDF workers’ committee expected to demand that nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset is delayed By CITY & FINANCE REPORTER FOR THE DAILY MAIL, 4 July 2016  EDF’S workers’ committee is expected to demand today that a nuclear power plant at Hinkley, Somerset, is delayed.

The energy firm has yet to make a decision on how to raise £18bn of funds needed for the power station, and has put off deciding until September to allow time to consult the unions.

The unions are obliged to deliver their opinion today on whether Hinkley should go ahead. But three of them issued a statement last week to say that Britain’s vote to leave the European Union added new elements of uncertainty.

It follows a legal action launched earlier this month in French courts by EDF’s Works Council, who asked for the project to be put off.

It is feared that if the unions do not support the project it could further delay Hinkley, which was due to be completed in 2017 but is currently expected to be finished by 2025.

July 4, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

India’s nuclear insurance policy aims to transfer liability risk from nuclear suppliers

insuranceIndia’s first insurance cover to NPCIL aims to transfer liability risk from nuclear suppliers, International Business Times (IBT) July 3, 2016  By   National Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL), the government-owned nuclear power generation company, received India’s first insurance policy that may offset liability risks seen as a bottleneck by foreign nuclear plant suppliers, reported IANS.

The policy — issued by government-owned non-life insurer New India Assurance Company Ltd — is compliant with the guidelines specified in the much discussed Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act, 2010, an insurance official said……

The policy, according to the report, will be applicable to all the plants of NPCIL. It covers their liability to the public in the event of accidents specified in the policy and the power plant’s “right of recourse against the equipment suppliers.”

The reinstatement premium will be decided after a claim is filed based on the insurer’s capacity to undertake further risks, said the official……He also added that the policy is devoid of ‘policy excess’, defined as the first amount uncovered by the policy and hence liable to be paid by the company……

The announcement comes after NPCIL paid Rs. 50,000 to each of the six workers who suffered burn injuries at the Kudankulam nuclear plant in May 2014 on successful intervention by National Human Rights Commission, as reported by the Indian Express.

NPCIL is currently mired in allegations of misleading people about the safety of the Kovvada plant in Andhra Pradesh.

Earlier, General Electric chairman Jeffrey Immelt also expressed reservations on building a nuclear plant in India, citing the liability law.

July 4, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, India, politics | Leave a comment

New India Assurance Company Ltd to insure nuclear reactors

insuranceNuclear plants insured, 4 July 16  India’s first insurance policy covering public liability to an atomic power plant operator has been issued to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) but the reinstat-ement of insurance value post a claim will be decided later, industry officials said.

“We recently got the insurance policy covering all our atomic power plants. The total premium came around Rs. 100 crore for a risk cover of Rs. 1,500 crore,” S.K. Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director, NPCIL, said.

The policy complies with all the provisions of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLND), said a known insurance industry official.

The Central government had announced in June 2015 the setting up of the Rs. 1,500-crore India Nuclear Insurance Pool to be managed by national reinsurer GIC Re.

The insurance policy was issued by the country’s largest non-life insurer New India Assurance Company Ltd.

The policy would cover the liability towards public as a consequence of any nuclear accident in the plants covered under the policy and also the right of recourse of NPCIL against equipment suppliers. The insurance coverage will be for all the NPCIL’s plants— like a floater cover.

Queried about the reinstatement premium, the official said it would be decided post a claim based on the capacity — to underwrite the risk — available with the insurers.

July 4, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, India, politics | Leave a comment

Antarctic is being polluted by uranium mining in Australia

Climate scientists: Australian uranium mining pollutes Antarctic
 June 30, 2016 by Beth Staples  
Uranium mining in Australia is polluting the Antarctic, about 6,000 nautical miles away. University of Maine climate scientists made the discovery during the first high-resolution continuous examination of a northern Antarctic Peninsula .

Ice core data reveal a significant increase in  concentration that coincides with open pit mining in the Southern Hemisphere, most notably Australia, says lead researcher Mariusz Potocki, a doctoral candidate and research assistant with the Climate Change Institute.

“The Southern Hemisphere is impacted by human activities more than we thought,” says Potocki.

Understanding airborne distribution of uranium is important because exposure to the radioactive element can result in kidney toxicity, genetic mutations, mental development challenges and cancer.

Uranium concentrations in the ice core increased by as much as 102 between the 1980s and 2000s, accompanied by increased variability in recent years, says Potocki, a glaciochemist.

Until World War II, most of the uranium input to the atmosphere was from natural sources, says the research team.

But since 1945, increases in Southern Hemisphere uranium levels have been attributed to industrial sources, including uranium mining in Australia, South Africa and Namibia. Since other land-source dust elements don’t show similar large increases in the ice core, and since the increased uranium concentrations are enriched above levels in the Earth’s crust, the source of uranium is attributed to human activities rather atmospheric circulation changes.

In 2007, a Brazilian-Chilean-U.S. team retrieved the ice core from the Detroit Plateau on the northern Antarctic Peninsula, which is one of the most rapidly changing regions on Earth.

More information: Mariusz Potocki et al. Recent increase in Antarctic Peninsula ice core uranium concentrations, Atmospheric Environment (2016). DOI: 10.1016/j.atmosenv.2016.06.010  Journal reference:Atmospheric Environment  websiteProvided by: University of Maine

July 4, 2016 Posted by | ARCTIC, AUSTRALIA, environment | Leave a comment

Plutonium being collected in China and Japan? Fears of another nuclear arms race

Confronting plutonium nationalism in Northeast Asia,
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 
Fumihiko Yoshida , 30 June 16,   Although President Obama trumpeted his commitment to nuclear disarmament at this year’s Washington Nuclear Security Summit and more recently during his visit to Hiroshima, the White House has so far only discussed in whispers a far more pressing nuclear weapons-related danger—that Japan and China may soon be separating thousands of nuclear bombs worth of plutonium from nuclear spent fuel each year. If this level of production occurs, South Korea and other countries will likely try to go the plutonium route. If President Obama is to have a lasting legacy of nuclear threat reduction, his administration needs to do far more than it has to clarify just how harmful this plutonium proliferation would be to keeping peace in East Asia and the world.

Japan has already accumulated about 11 metric tons of separated plutonium on its soil—enough for about 2,500 nuclear bombs. It also plans to open a nuclear spent fuel reprocessing plant at Rokkasho designed to separate eight tons of plutonium—enough to make roughly 1,500 nuclear warheads a year—starting late in 2018. The Japanese plutonium program has raised China’s hackles. China’s new five-year plan includes a proposal to import a reprocessing plant from France with the same capacity as Rokkasho. Meanwhile, South Korea insists that it should have the same right to separate plutonium as Japan has.

Each of these countries emphasizes that it wants to separate plutonium for peaceful purposes. Yet in each country, there are skeptics who respond whenever this argument is made by a neighbor. China and South Korea suspect that Japan’s large stockpile of plutonium and its plans to operate the Rokkasho plant are designed to afford Tokyo some latent form of nuclear deterrence, i.e. a nuclear weapon option. A huge new Chinese commercial plutonium separation program could give Beijing an option to make far more nuclear weapons than it already has. It is unclear what Russia might make of all of this, or North Korea. One possibility is that either might use such “peaceful” plutonium production as an excuse to further expand its own nuclear arsenal. China might do the same as deterrence to Japan. If Seoul joined in, it would be even more difficult to cap North Korea’s nuclear program………

The Obama administration and Congress need to speak more clearly. As Countryman said, “(t)here is a degree of competition among the major powers in East Asia. It is a competition that in my view extends into irrational spheres…”

The United States can stop Japan from separating more plutonium and the spread of “plutonium nationalism” in East Asia only by bringing security issues to the front burner in politics and diplomacy. If the United States clearly announces that operations at Rokkasho constitute a security concern, Japan is almost sure to listen. Having the plutonium discussion between Japan and the United States is critically important; the Abe administration puts a high priority on security issues and is also very pro-United States.

Now is the time to speak clearly on these security issues—before China and Japan lock themselves into a plutonium production rivalry that will make cooperation between them and South Korea on pressing issues, including North Korea’s nuclear program, all the more difficult to secure.

July 4, 2016 Posted by | - plutonium, China, Japan | Leave a comment

U.N. Decolonization Committee adopts French Polynesia Resolution

U.N. Decolonization Committee adopts French Polynesia Resolution, Overseas Territories Review , 3 July 16 

Highlights of the U.N. Resolution: Reaffirmed the inalienable rights of the people of French Polynesia to the ownership, control and disposal of their natural resources, including marine resources and undersea minerals, and the permanent sovereignty of the people to those resources.
Bikini-atom-bombRecognized the significant health and environmental impacts of nuclear testing conducted by the administering Power in the Territory over a 30-year period.
Directed the U.N. Secretary-General to provide continuous updates to his report on the environmental, ecological, health and other impacts of the 30-year period of nuclear testing in French Polynesia, with further details on the impacts of nuclear testing in the Territory, particularly on the consequences of exposure to atomic radiation……….

July 4, 2016 Posted by | OCEANIA, politics international | Leave a comment

New climate change strategy adopted by Small Pacific Island States

Small Island States adopt new climate change strategy The Forum Secretariat’s Alfred Schuster, 4 July 16 The Small Island States of the Pacific Islands Forum have adopted a new climate change strategy to ensure their vulnerabilities are addressed as part of the regional policy agenda.

The strategy was agreed to by leaders from the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and Tuvalu at a meeting last week in Palau.

The Forum Secretariat’s Development Co-operation Advisor, Alfred Schuster, says addressing climate change is one of the top priorities of the strategy.

He says the Small Island States want to band together when applying for climate change mitigation funding from the United Nations.

“It’ll be a new approach, from what we understand a joint proposal of countries and governments hasn’t yet been brought to the attention of the Green Climate Fund. But we’d like to think it’s a much more strategic way in light of the administrative burden and administrative requirements of the Green Climate Fund to generate the sort of revenue that’s required by the SIS.”

July 4, 2016 Posted by | climate change, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear white elephant preventing clean energy development, and energy efficiency


The nuclear white elephant that stands in the way of green growth   By Jeremy Leggett  , June 06 2016  EDF’s Hinkley Point C plant in western England will have much to do with the nuclear industry’s prospects globally — and hence for the ability of renewables to grow quickly.

I start with a set of numbers surely destined to become a classic case history for business schools.

Imagine you are the chief financial officer of a company with a market capitalisation of €18bn ($20.3bn). You are being asked to find investment of €22bn to build a nuclear plant, the first of a whole new fleet.

Without that fleet, your company cannot hope to grow, assuming it sticks with nuclear generation, and therefore without that one plant its business model will be exposed as broken.

Yet your plant is the most expensive power station in the world — one of the most expensive human construction projects ever, in real terms. And here is the thing: you carry €37bn of net debt on your balance sheet.

You have two further problems. The first is €55bn in estimated liabilities to keep a fleet of ageing reactors open beyond their long-scheduled close-down dates. The second is an unknown number of billions to fix a grave safety flaw in the steel of a pressure vessel in the forerunner of the new plant you must build.

What do you do? You resign, of course.

Which is exactly what EDF chief financial officer Thomas Piquemal did on 8 March.

Now imagine you are the abandoned chief executive, Jean-Bernard Lévy.

You face a few problems beyond the loss of your financial chief, the market signal that sends and the reasons for his departure. Moody’s has warned that your credit rating will be downgraded if you proceed with the plant, making it far more difficult for you to raise yet more debt.

Your labour unions are begging you not go ahead, and threatening to strike if you do. They are saying that they fear this single project will bankrupt the company. Worse, they have seats on the board, because the workforce are part-owners of the company.

What do you do? In a rational world, you resign too.

But now imagine you have a rock-solid belief system. You cannot conceive of a world without nuclear power, or at least your vital power plant. So instead of resigning, you announce your renewed determination to build the project.

You confer with your bosses in the French government, which owns the majority of the company. They in turn confer with your client, the British government, and your minority co-investors, the Chinese government. All are populated with people who share your belief system, so they too restate their commitment that this project will go ahead.

The British say they absolutely need the 7% of national electricity that the project would provide by 2025, the scheduled start date. That is why they have agreed an unprecedented deal with you that will pay £92.50 ($133) per MWh — more than twice the current retail price of electricity, guaranteed for 35 years, and linked to inflation, in so doing loading many billions onto future household and business energy bills.

British officials are meanwhile actively suppressing renewables and energy efficiency. Cynics suspect they are doing so in part to ensure a market for the electricity your nuclear plant will provide, when you finish it — as you say you can.

Yet still your catalogue of problems grows.

French authorities open an investigation into the faking of records at a factory making vital parts for your power station. They have identified anomalies in documents related to 400 components made for existing nuclear facilities running today.

At the UN, a committee rules that the UK government is in breach of international obligations in failing to consult neighbouring countries over the potential environmental impacts of your intended plant.

Then you realise you have left contingency out of the budget. You are forced to add a further €3bn+ to the already record-breaking bill.

The day after that, Moody’s carries out its threat to downgrade your credit rating. Standard and Poor’s goes further, cutting a significant part of your debt to junk status.

And so it goes on.

As for the denouement, the only thing yet to be resolved is the exact shape of the inevitable tragedy. Including the extent to which this white-elephant product of a broken and dying belief system can slow the growth of renewables.

Jeremy Leggett is founding director of international PV company Solarcentury. See for a free download of The Winning of The Carbon War, his account of the dramas in energy and climate from 2013 to the Paris summit. Also available for order as a printed book, with all proceeds going to SolarAid.

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

Australian government’s efforts to bully Aborigines into a nuclear waste dump on their land?

text-relevantThe plan to turn South Australia into the world’s nuclear waste dump has been met with near-unanimous opposition from Aboriginal people.

The Royal Commission acknowledged strong Aboriginal opposition to its nuclear waste proposal in its final report – but it treats that opposition not as a red light but as an obstacle to be circumvented.

Radioactive waste and the nuclear war on Australia’s Aboriginal people,Ecologist Jim Green 1st July 2016
Australia’s nuclear industry has a shameful history of ‘radioactive racism’ that dates from the British bomb tests in the 1950s, writes Jim Green. The same attitudes persist today with plans to dump over half a million tonnes of high and intermediate level nuclear waste on Aboriginal land, and open new uranium mines. But now Aboriginal peoples and traditional land owners are fighting back!

From 1998-2004, the Australian federal government tried – but failed – to impose a national nuclear waste dump on Aboriginal land in South Australia.

Then the government tried to impose a dump on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, but that also failed.

Now the government has embarked on its third attempt and once again it is trying to impose a dump on Aboriginal land despite clear opposition from Traditional Owners. The latest proposal is for a dump in the spectacular Flinders Ranges, 400 km north of Adelaide in South Australia, on the land of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners.

The government says that no group will have a right of veto, which is coded racism: it means that the dump may go ahead despite the government’s acknowledgement that “almost all Indigenous community members surveyed are strongly opposed to the site continuing.”

The proposed dump site was nominated by former Liberal Party politician Grant Chapman but he has precious little connection to the land. Conversely, the land has been precious to Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners for millennia.

It was like somebody ripped my heart out’

The site is adjacent to the Yappala Indigenous Protected Area (IPA). “The IPA is right on the fence – there’s a waterhole that is shared by both properties”said Yappala Station resident and Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Regina McKenzie.

The waterhole – a traditional women’s site and healing place – is one of many archeological and culturally significant sites in the area that Traditional Owners have registered with the South Australian government over the past six years. Two Adnyamathanha associations – Viliwarinha Aboriginal Corporation and the Anggumathanha Camp Law Mob – wrote in November 2015 statement:

“Adnyamathanha land in the Flinders Ranges has been short-listed for a national nuclear waste dump. The land was nominated by former Liberal Party Senator Grant Chapman. Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners weren’t consulted. Even Traditional Owners who live next to the proposed dump site at Yappala Station weren’t consulted. This is an insult.

“The whole area is Adnyamathanha land. It is Arngurla Yarta (spiritual land). The proposed dump site has springs. It also has ancient mound springs. It has countless thousands of Aboriginal artefects. Our ancestors are buried there.

“Hookina creek that runs along the nominated site is a significant women’s site. It is a registered heritage site and must be preserved and protected. We are responsible for this area, the land and animals.

“We don’t want a nuclear waste dump here on our country and worry that if the waste comes here it will harm our environment and muda (our lore, our creation, our everything). We call on the federal government to withdraw the nomination of the site and to show more respect in future.”

Regina McKenzie describes getting the news that the Flinders Ranges site had been chosen from a short-list of six sites across Australia: “We were devastated, it was like somebody had rang us up and told us somebody had passed away. My niece rang me crying … it was like somebody ripped my heart out.”

McKenzie said on ABC television: “Almost every waste dump is near an Aboriginal community. It’s like, yeah, they’re only a bunch of blacks, they’re only a bunch of Abos, so we’ll put it there. Don’t you think that’s a little bit confronting for us when it happens to us all the time? Can’t they just leave my people alone?”

Adnyamathanha Traditional Owner Dr Jillian Marsh said in an April 2016 statement:

“The First Nations people of Australia have been bullied and pushed around, forcibly removed from their families and their country, denied access and the right to care for their own land for over 200 years. Our health and wellbeing compares with third world countries, our people crowd the jails. Nobody wants toxic waste in their back yard, this is true the world over. We stand in solidarity with people across this country and across the globe who want sustainable futures for communities, we will not be moved.”

The battle over the proposed dump site in the Flinders Ranges will probably be resolved over the next 12 months. If the government fails in its third attempt to impose a dump against the wishes of Aboriginal Traditional Owners, we can only assume on past form that a fourth attempt will ensue……

Now Aboriginal people in South Australia face the imposition of a national nuclear waste dump as well as a plan to import 138,000 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste and 390,000 cubic metres of intermediate level waste for storage and disposal as a commercial venture.

The plan is being driven by the South Australian government, which last year established a Royal Commission to provide a fig-leaf of independent supporting advice. The Royal Commissioner is a nuclear advocate and the majority of the members of the Expert Advisory Committee are strident nuclear advocates.

Indeed it seems as if the Royal Commissioner sought out the dopiest nuclear advocates he could find to put on the Expert Advisory Committee: one thinks nuclear power is safer than solar, another thinks that nuclear power doesn’t pose a weapons proliferation risk, and a third was insisting that there was no credible risk of a serious accident at Fukushima even as nuclear meltdown was in full swing.

Announcing the establishment of the Royal Commission in March 2015, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said“We have a specific mandate to consult with Aboriginal communities and there are great sensitivities here. I mean we’ve had the use and abuse of the lands of the Maralinga Tjarutja people by the British when they tested their atomic weapons.”

Yet the South Australian government’s handling of the Royal Commission process systematically disenfranchised Aboriginal people. The truncated timeline for providing feedback on draft Terms of Reference disadvantaged people in remote regions, people with little or no access to email and internet, and people for whom English is a second language. There was no translation of the draft Terms of Reference, and a regional communications and engagement strategy was not developed or implemented.

Aboriginal people repeatedly expressed frustration with the Royal Commission process. One example (of many) is the submission of the Anggumathanha Camp Law Mob (who are also fighting against the plan for a national nuclear waste dump on their land):

“Why we are not satisfied with the way this Royal Commission has been conducted:

Yaiinidlha Udnyu ngawarla wanggaanggu, wanhanga Yura Ngawarla wanggaanggu? – always in English, where’s the Yura Ngawarla (our first language)?

“The issues of engagement are many. To date we have found the process of engagement used by the Royal Commission to be very off putting as it’s been run in a real Udnyu (whitefella) way. Timelines are short, information is hard to access, there is no interpreter service available, and the meetings have been very poorly advertised. …

“A closed and secretive approach makes engagement difficult for the average person on the street, and near impossible for Aboriginal people to participate.”

The plan to turn South Australia into the world’s nuclear waste dump has been met with near-unanimous opposition from Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Congress of South Australia, comprising people from many Aboriginal groups across the state, endorsed the following resolution at an August 2015 meeting:

“We, as native title representatives of lands and waters of South Australia, stand firmly in opposition to nuclear developments on our country, including all plans to expand uranium mining, and implement nuclear reactors and nuclear waste dumps on our land. … Many of us suffer to this day the devastating effects of the nuclear industry and continue to be subject to it through extensive uranium mining on our lands and country that has been contaminated.

“We view any further expansion of industry as an imposition on our country, our people, our environment, our culture and our history. We also view it as a blatant disregard for our rights under various legislative instruments, including the founding principles of this state.”

The Royal Commission acknowledged strong Aboriginal opposition to its nuclear waste proposal in its final report – but it treats that opposition not as a red light but as an obstacle to be circumvented.


July 4, 2016 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues | Leave a comment