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North Korea is targeting USA, not Japan, says Japanese lawmaker

North Korea’s nuclear program is targeting U.S., Japanese lawmaker says, WP. 4 By Anna Fifield September 13 

TOKYO — North Korea’s nuclear program is directed at the United States, a close adviser to Kim Jong Un said after last week’s atomic test, according to a Japanese lawmaker who just returned from Pyongyang.

The warning came as two U.S. military B-1 bombers flew over the southern half of the peninsula in a show of force against North Korea, and top military brass and diplomats alike warned Pyongyang the United States was prepared to take all steps to contain and punish the regime.

North Korea defied United Nations resolutions and international warnings by detonating its fifth and largest nuclear weapon Friday, declaring that it was a warhead that could be used to counter “the American threat.”

Antonio Inoki, a former professional wrestler who now serves in Japan’s parliament, returned Tuesday from a five-day visit to Pyongyang saying that Japan need not worry about the North’s nuclear program.

“This is not directed at Japan. The nuclear development is toward the United States,” Inoki quoted Ri Su Yong, an elder statesman of North Korean foreign affairs who is particularly close to Kim, as saying……..https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-koreas-nuclear-program-is-targeting-us-japanese-lawmaker-says/2016/09/13/73faa86a-f52e-4559-9923-7f8e8cf31011_story.html

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September 13, 2016 Posted by | Japan, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

USA-China rivalry complicates their reaction to North Korea’s nuclear testing

Simmering US-China rivalry prompts North Korea nuclear test finger-pointing, CNBC News, @huileng_tan, 13 Sept 16  China has lashed out at the U.S. after Washington accused Beijing of not doing enough to arrest North Korean‘s nuclear ambitions, underscoring tensions between the two world powers in the geopolitically sensitive Korean Peninsula.

 At the Chinese foreign affairs ministry’s regular press conference on Monday, spokesperson Hua Chunying said U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter was being “unnecessarily modest” for thrusting the responsibility of handling Pyongyang solely on China.

“The cause and crux of the Korean nuclear issue rest with the U.S. rather than China,” added Hua in an official transcript from the foreign affairs ministry. “The core of the issue is the conflict between (North Korea) and the U.S. It is the U.S. who should reflect upon how the situation has become what it is today, and search for an effective solution. It is better for the doer to undo what he has done. The U.S. should shoulder its due responsibilities,” she said.

Hua was responding to Carter who singled out the East Asian giant at a news conference in Norway as bearing the responsibility for North Korea’s recalcitrant nuclear testing……..

On Tuesday, two U.S. B-1 bombers flew over South Korea in a show of solidarity with South Korea while Sung Kim, the U.S. envoy on North Korea, said the world’s largest economy remained open to a meaningful dialogue with Pyongyang, Reuters reported……..

The Chinese foreign affairs ministry’s Hua urged for dialogue among all parties to address security concerns. “It has been proven time and again that sanctions alone cannot solve the problem,” she added………

“China is very worried about the North Korean regime but it does not want a collapse of that regime and a unified Korea under the current the South Korea regime which they would regard as a mortal threat to their interest (with) American security forces right alongside their border,” he told CNBC’s “Squawk Box“.

That explained Beijing’s intense opposition to the deployment of the U.S. Thaad defense system on South Korean soil even though Seoul was an ally which had repeatedly explained that the weapon was for self-defense.

“(There is) a larger sense that China feels that they are in a long term rivalry (with the U.S.)… In my view, there is a troubling chill over U.S.-China relations and I don’t see either presidential candidates really offering a sensible way to lower the temperatures in this rivalry. But if China is locked into this rivalry as it sees it, then it is taking measures that we don’t like at all,” Lyle Goldstein, a professor at the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College told CNBC. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/13/simmering-us-china-rivalry-prompts-north-korea-nuclear-test-finger-pointing.html

September 13, 2016 Posted by | China, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear anxieties as South Korea experiences biggest earthquake

South Korea’s biggest earthquake triggers nuclear safety concerns, Reuters,  By Jane Chung | SEOUL, 13 Sept 16, Two earthquakes that jolted South Korea on Monday night, including the largest ever recorded in the country, prompted concerns about the safety of nuclear plants clustered in the quake-prone southeast.

Korea’s Meteorological Agency said the two earthquakes, of magnitude of 5.1 and 5.8, occurred near the city of Gyeongju. They could be felt in the capital Seoul, over 300 km (186 miles) to the northwest.

Fourteen people were injured but there were no reports of serious damage, a Ministry of Public Safety and Security official said.

Nonetheless, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co shut down four nuclear reactors at the Wolsong complex in Gyeongju as a precaution.

South Korea’s reactors are designed to withstand a magnitude 6.5 or 7.0 earthquake, according to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

Orders were given to nuclear operators to upgrade old reactors to that standard after the disaster at Japan’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

“That will be completed by next year,” said Shim Eun-jung, a spokeswoman at the nuclear watchdog……….

As in many countries, nuclear power is controversial in South Korea, especially after a 2012 scandal over parts being supplied with fake certificates prompted shutdowns.

Park Jong-kwon, head of an anti-nuclear civic group in South Gyeongsang Province, said no more nuclear reactors should be built in southeastern cities like Ulsan and Gyeongju as they are close to an active fault line.

“Even though nuclear reactors are designed to withstand an earthquake of a magnitude 7.0, if they are hit by 4.5 and 5.8 magnitude earthquakes several times, they can be knocked down by a real 7.0 magnitude earthquake at a single blow,” Park said…….

Greenpeace Korea filed a lawsuit against the nuclear watchdog on Monday, before the earthquakes, urging it to scrap a plan to add two more reactors in Ulsan.

Koreans living near the nuclear power plant in Gyeongju city also voiced anxiety……http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southkorea-nuclear-quake-idUSKCN11J0R2

September 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

September 13 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “Meet the mom litigating the ‘biggest case on the planet'” • Julia Olson is litigating what should be considered the most important court case in the United States: She’s helping 21 kids, as young as age 9, sue the Obama administration over its insufficient action on climate change. Olson will attempt to make their case for the future. [CNN]

Julia Olson, chief legal counsel of Our Children's Trust Julia Olson, chief legal counsel of Our Children’s Trust

World:

¶ India floated a draft document aimed at auctioning 1,000 MW of rooftop photovoltaic capacity to be installed atop government buildings. The Ministry of New & Renewable Energy issued the document, which divided the 1,000 MW capacity allocation into two modes, one based on total project cost, and the other on the tariff. [CleanTechnica]

¶ Hitachi has announced the development of a new 5 MW offshore wind turbine, the HTW5.2-136, featuring a 15% larger rotor…

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September 13, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Going nuclear is highly inappropriate for the Philippines

Nuclear Philippines is a future full of costly risks, Inquirer.net, By:  @inquirerdotnet, 13 Sept 16  CAMBRIDGE, Massachusetts—The Duterte administration recently floated the revival of a white elephant of the martial law period—the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)—to meet the country’s burgeoning energy needs. “Revival” actually is an inapt word; the facility never went online in the first place.

Going nuclear is a highly inappropriate option because of its potential to cause catastrophic damage due to accidents, sabotage or terrorism; to produce very long-lived radioactive wastes; and to exacerbate nuclear proliferation. It is also water intensive, slow to construct, and very expensive. With many countries already phasing out nuclear power in favor of renewable energy technologies, the nuclear option is but a costly and risky diversion for the Philippines……..

Large-scale property damage and evacuation costs from nuclear accidents are the key liabilities of having a nuclear facility in an earthquake-prone country like the Philippines. In a matter of hours, a nuclear disaster could generate global fear and horror; this has been illustrated in the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, that brought about the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Managing radioactive waste produced by nuclear reactors is another challenge. If we cannot even effectively attend to simpler solid waste management problems, how can we ensure that we will have the capacity to store radioactive wastes for thousands of years?……

The best energy option for the Philippines is not nuclear but the already proven and demonstrated renewable energy technologies. These are relatively less risky, environmentally benign, socially acceptable, and economically plausible options. These include utility-scale and distributed solar, wind, micro-hydro, and geothermal installations. Our equatorial, geographic and archipelagic location, which translates into a tremendous renewable energy potential, is a natural blessing many countries are envious of.

Projects that transform our huge wind, water, sunlight and geothermal resources into our much-needed energy can be constructed quickly, within two to five years, but without the risks and costs attached to nuclear. Wind farms, for example, take one to three years in the development stage—that is, the time required to identify a site, purchase or lease a land, monitor winds, install transmission, negotiate a power-purchase agreement, and obtain permits—and between one and two years to construct. Solar farms take almost the same time………

Bringing the BNPP—or any nuclear energy facility for that matter—online is nothing but a risky and costly digression to an effective approach to our energy supply problem. Adopting this most expensive and very risky remedy only curbs what we can (and must) spend on the more promising approaches. For this administration to be truly concerned about the future of energy in the Philippines, renewables, not nuclear, is the way forward. http://opinion.inquirer.net/97258/nuclear-philippines-future-full-costly-risks

September 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

New York downstate lawmakers resent subsidising upstate nuclear reactors

text-my-money-2Feeling the heat: Downstate legislators aren’t keen on subsidies for upstate nukes Watertown Daily Times , SEPTEMBER 12, 2016 Some downstate lawmakers don’t appreciate the fact that their constituents must now subsidize a form of energy produced in upstate regions.

The legislators take issue with the state Public Service Commission’s decision to include subsidies for nuclear power in the Clean Energy Standard approved Aug. 1. The CES calls for half of New York’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2030.

The nuclear energy subsidies, though, will benefit power plants located hundreds of miles away from the districts of these legislators.

“Members of the New York State Assembly, including James Brennan from Brooklyn, Amy Paulin from Westchester County, Jeffrey Dinowitz from the Bronx, and Charles Lavine and Stephen Englebright from Long Island, sent a letter to Audrey Zibelman, chair of the New York State Public Service Commission, saying that the commission’s order forcing downstate electric customers to pay nearly 60 percent of the electric rate increase to bailout the Exelon Corp. and keep four upstate nuclear units was unfair,” according to a news release issued Wednesday. “They said there was no way downstate electric customers used 60 percent of the output of the nuclear reactors and that the amounts should be reduced. Electric generation in the NYC-Westchester service territory, and purchases of electricity from other sources, account for the overwhelming percentage of the use of electricity there. Long Island’s situation is similar — the overwhelming percentage of its power does not come from upstate New York.”…

September 13, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Debra White Plume On Dakota Access Pipeline; Uranium Contamination of Pine Ridge Water; Uranium Mining, Wounded Knee and More

Mining Awareness +

Interview by Amy Goodman-DemocracyNow.org:
Lakota Activist Debra White Plume from Pine Ridge: Why I am a Water Protector at Standing Rock, SEPTEMBER 12, 2016

While Democracy Now! was covering the standoff at Standing Rock earlier this month, we spoke to longtime Lakota water and land rights activist Debra White Plume, who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and lives along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. She described what the Dakota Access pipeline means to her.

GUEST
DEBRA WHITE PLUME longtime Lakota water and land rights activist who was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and lives along the banks of Wounded Knee Creek. She is executive director of Owe Aku.

While Democracy Now! was covering the standoff at Standing Rock earlier this month, we spoke to longtime Lakota water and land rights activist Debra…

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September 13, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Safety flaw casts fresh doubt on Hinkley reactor

EDF may have to cut output or walk away, The Times, Robin Pagnamenta, A nuclear power station being built in France using the same design earmarked for Hinkley Point in Somerset may have to restrict its output or could be abandoned because of the costs of correcting safety flaws, experts have warned.

France’s nuclear safety regulator, the ASN, is testing the strength of steel used in the reactor pressure vessel at the plant in Flamanville in Normandy.

Last year, it warned of “very serious anomalies”, including weak spots in the steel component which houses the reactor. An investigation is under way and a decision is expected next year.

The same design has been…(subscribers only) http://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/hinkley-style-reactor-has-serious-safety-flaw-wg50jzxhd

September 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Canadian political parties forced to reimburse illegal SNC-Lavalin donations

Liberals, Conservatives reimburse illegal SNC-Lavalin donations, ROBERT FIFE AND DANIEL LEBLANC OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail, Sep. 08, 2016 The federal Liberal and Conservative parties were forced to reimburse the government after the commissioner of elections found they had received $117,803 in illegal donations from SNC-Lavalin’s political slush fund.

The unlawful contributions span from March, 2004, to May, 2011, and showcase how dirty money that funded Quebec political parties also found a home in the federal arena.

The Liberal Party received the bulk of the illegal donations from the Quebec engineering giant, amounting to $109,615, while the Conservatives got $8,187. As part of its reimbursement, the Liberal Party covered $12,529 in donations that SNC-Lavalin gave in 2006 to the leadership campaigns of Michael Ignatieff, Bob Rae, Stéphane Dion and Gerard Kennedy.

 Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin has been mired in corruption and bribery scandals over the past decade involving attempts to curry favour with politicians and other influential players to win lucrative engineering and construction contracts in Canada and abroad. The RCMP has raided SNC-Lavalin’s offices a number of times over the years.

The Commissioner of Canada Elections, Yves Côté, announced Thursday morning that the company had signed a compliance agreement with the federal agency and committed to put in place a series of steps to ensure it does not make illegal donations in the future.

SNC-Lavalin has already admitted it made more than $1-million in illegal donations to Quebec political parties during the 2000s. Like other engineering firms in the province, managers and family members made personal donations to parties, which were then reimbursed with salary bonuses.

A commission of inquiry found that officials inside the Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Québécois were aware of SNC-Lavalin’s political slush fund, although there is no evidence the federal political parties knew the donations were illegal.

The Liberal Party said it was informed of the illegal donations by the Commissioner of Canada Elections last month, and immediately reimbursed the Chief Electoral Officer……….

An elections commissioner investigation found that senior SNC-Lavalin executives illegally donated $83,534 to the Liberal Party of Canada; $13,552 to various Liberal riding associations; $12,529 to contestants involved in the 2006 Liberal leadership race; $3,137 to the Conservative Party; and $5,050 to Conservative riding associations………

Facing the threat of getting barred from future federal contracts, SNC-Lavalin signed an “administrative agreement” last year with the Public Services and Procurement Department under the government’s new integrity regime. The agreement allows companies that have federal charges pending against them to continue to contract with or supply the government. As part of the deal, SNC agreed to strict conditions and third-party oversight of its business practices. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/snc-lavalin-violated-elections-act-with-contributions-to-liberals-tories/article31762290/?cmpid=rss1&click=sf_globe

September 13, 2016 Posted by | Canada, Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Fire at E. I. Hatch Nuclear Power Station in Georgia USA?

Mining Awareness +

The reactor status for Hatch Reactor 1 was reported as 50% on Sept. 11th and Sept. 12th, which seems to support the possibility of a fire on site. It was at 96% on Sept. 10th. Satellite imagery noted an apparent fire at the Hatch Nuclear Power Station, when passing over at 18.29 UTC, 14.29 (2.29 pm) EDT on Sept. 11th. While the image shows it as most likely in the transformer yard, a fire could have been elsewhere, as it is not perfectly precise.
Hatch NPS Fire Detection Date: 11 Sep 2016 Detection Time: 18:29 UTC
Detection Date: 11 Sep 2016, Detection Time: 18:29 UTC, Confidence: 45 http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/index.php

E. I. Hatch is one of many nuclear power stations which has potentially defective Schneider Masterpact breakers: “The higher contact resistance at any one finger contact could cause an unacceptable temperature rise at that connection point. At very high temperatures, the springs that maintain the finger contact pressure could relax, which would further…

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September 13, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

September 12 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “Beginning of the End for Fossil Power” • The prospectus of E.ON’s conventional generation spin-off, says, “Conventional generation of power faces the risk of losing competitiveness against renewable energy and thus market share, and, over the long term, even faces the risk of disappearing completely from the market.” [Bloomberg]

Beginning of the end for fossil fuels (Photo by Bill Allsopp / Loop Images) Foreseeing its own end (Photo by Bill Allsopp / Loop Images)

Science and Technology:

¶ Sheets of carbon an atom thick could soon double the amount of electricity stored in smartphone batteries, as 2D materials present a picture of the future of energy storage. At small scales, electrons obey the exotic laws of quantum mechanics very different from those we experience in the macroscopic world. [Horizon magazine]

World:

¶ Vattenfall won the Danish nearshore wind tender and will develop two wind farms with a total capacity of 350-MW at Hvide Sande and Thyborøn on the west…

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September 13, 2016 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Gov’t making final arrangements to scrap Monju reactor: sources

EN-433551-thumbx300 monju.jpg

 

The Japanese government is making final arrangements to scrap the trouble-prone Monju fast-breeder reactor, given the huge cost expected for its resumption, government sources said Tuesday.

The move comes as the government judged it cannot obtain public support for the huge amount of money needed to restart the reactor in Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.

If realized, decommissioning of the reactor would require a drastic change in the nation’s nuclear fuel-recycle policy, in which Monju is designated to play a key part.

http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/09/433630.html

September 13, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima plant building exposed as TEPCO opens old wounds

reactor-1-13-sept-2016

The outer layer of the crippled No. 1 reactor building at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is exposed as Tokyo Electric Power Co. removes one of the panels covering the facility at 6:22 a.m. on Sept. 13.

The devastated outer layer of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s No. 1 reactor building has been exposed for the first time in almost five years in the painstaking reactor decommissioning process.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. began removing on Sept. 13 the exterior walls of the cover installed around the structure to prevent the dispersal of radioactive materials on Sept. 13.

Shortly past 6 a.m., a large crane began removing a massive piece of the cover installed around the reactor building. The panel dismantled that day measured 23 by 17 meters and weighed 20 tons.

The cover was installed in October 2011 as a temporary measure after a nuclear meltdown occurred following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March that year. The meltdown caused a hydrogen explosion, blowing the walls off the building.

Once the cover is dismantled, the operator can assess the state of the building’s interiors and remove the debris fallen onto the spent fuel pool inside.

Steady progress is necessary in reconstruction, but we hope they will carry on the procedure with safety as the No. 1 priority,” said a Fukushima prefectural government official.

TEPCO said that it plans to remove the remaining 17 panels of the covering by the end of the year. The portion covering the roof has already been removed.

Once the cover is removed, the utility will begin drawing up plans to remove the 392 fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool and melted nuclear fuel from inside the building.

The plant operator said that it plans to be extra careful during the procedure. It will shroud the building in tarpaulins once the cover is removed as a precautionary measure against dust and other materials containing radioactive materials from being carried aloft by the wind.

The utility and central government’s joint schedule for the decommissioning process of the reactor states that the removal of the fuel rods from the pool will start in fiscal 2020.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609130070.html

TEPCO resumes removal of Fukushima plant cover

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has resumed work to remove a temporary cover from a damaged reactor building.

Tokyo Electric Power Company had covered the partially collapsed No. 1 reactor building to prevent radioactive materials generated by the 2011 accident from spreading.

It started the removal process in July last year, the first step in the retrieval of spent nuclear fuel from a storage pool in the building.

The operation was suspended after sheets from the roof area were removed to assess the building’s condition.

On Tuesday, cranes were used to detach the panels from the side of the building, and the debris inside was exposed for the first time in 5 years. Each panel is 23 by 17 meters and weighs 20 tons.

TEPCO officials say they will spray chemicals to ensure that radioactive substances do not disperse even in strong winds.

They say they plan to complete the operation by the end of November, so that the debris can be removed. The removal of spent fuel is due to begin in 2021.

Industry ministry official Masato Kino who monitored the progress at the scene said difficult procedures will continue, but the first step has been taken. He said he hopes to carefully and safely proceed.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160913_28/

 

Removal of the top southwest panel off reactor 1 today
2016.09.13_06.00-09.00.Unit1 side

 

September 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Backlash Hits Japan Prime Minister

Nuclear power may never recover its cachet as a clean energy source, irrespective of safety concerns, because of the ongoing saga of meltdown 3/11/11 at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Over time, the story only grows more horrific, painful, deceitful. It’s a story that will continue for generations to come.

Here’s why it holds pertinence: As a result of total 100% meltdown, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) cannot locate or remove the radioactive molten core or corium from the reactors. Nobody knows where it is. It is missing. If it is missing from within the reactor structures, has it burrowed into the ground? There are no ready answers.

And, the destroyed nuclear plants are way too radioactive for humans to get close enough for inspection. And, robotic cameras get zapped! Corium is highly radioactive material, begging the question: If it has burrowed thru the containment vessel, does it spread underground, contaminating farmland and water resources and if so, how far away? Nobody knows?

According to TEPCO, removing the melted cores from reactors 1,2 and 3 will take upwards of 20 years, or more, again who knows.

But still, Japan will hold Olympic events in Fukushima in 2020 whilst out-of-control radioactive masses of goo are nowhere to be found. TEPCO expects decades before the cleanup is complete, if ever. Fortunately, for Tokyo 2020 (the Olympic designation) radiation’s impact has a latency effect, i.e., it takes a few years to show up as cancer in the human body.

A week ago on September 7th, Former PM Junichiro Koizumi, one of Japan’s most revered former prime ministers, lambasted the current Abe administration, as well as recovery efforts by TEPCO. At a news conference he said PM Shinzō Abe lied to the Olympic committee in 2013 in order to host the 2020 Summer Olympics in Japan.

That was a lie,” Mr Koizumi told reporters when asked about Mr Abe’s remark that Fukushima was “under control,” Abe Lied to IOC About Nuke Plant, ex-PM Says, The Straits Times, Sep 8, 2016. The former PM also went on to explain TEPCO, after 5 years of struggling, still has not been able to effectively control contaminated water at the plant.

According to The Straits Times article: “Speaking to the IOC in September 2013, before the Olympic vote, PM Abe acknowledged concerns but stressed there was no need to worry: “Let me assure you, the situation is under control.”

PM Abe’s irresponsible statement before the world community essentially puts a dagger into the heart of nuclear advocacy and former PM Koizumi deepens the insertion. After all, who can be truthfully trusted? Mr Koizumi was a supporter of nuclear power while in office from 2001-2006, but he has since turned into a vocal opponent.

Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan in Tokyo, Mr Koizumi said: “The nuclear power industry says safety is their top priority, but profit is in fact what comes first… Japan can grow if the country relies on more renewable energy,” (Ayako Mie, staff writer, Despite Dwindling Momentum, Koizumi Pursues Anti-Nuclear Goals, The Japan Times, Sept. 7, 2016).

Mr Koizumi makes a good point. There have been no blackouts in Japan sans nuclear power. The country functioned well without nuclear.

Further to the point of nuclear versus nonnuclear, Katsunobu Sakurai, mayor of Minamisoma, a city of 70,000 located 25 km north of Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, at a news conference in Tokyo, said: “As a citizen and as a resident of an area affected by the nuclear power plant disaster, I must express great anger at this act… it is necessary for all of Japan to change its way of thinking, and its way of life too – to move to become a society like Germany, which is no longer reliant on nuclear power,” (Sarai Flores, Minamisoma Mayor Sees Future for Fukushima ‘Nonnuclear’ City in Energy Independence, The Japan Times, March 9, 2016).

In March of 2015, Minamisoma declared as a Nonnuclear City, turning to solar and wind power in tandem with energy-saving measures.

Meanwhile, at the insistence of the Abe administration, seven nuclear reactors could restart by the end of FY2016 followed by a total of 19 units over the next 12 months (Source: Japanese Institute Sees 19 Reactor Restarts by March 2018, World Nuclear News, July 28, 2016).

Greenpeace/Japan Discovers Widespread Radioactivity

One of the issues surrounding the Fukushima incident and the upcoming Olympics is whom to trust. Already TEPCO has admitted to misleading the public about reports on the status of the nuclear meltdown, and PM Abe has been caught with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar, but even much worse, lying to a major international sports tribunal. His credibility is down the drain.

As such, maybe third party sources can be trusted to tell the truth. In that regard, Greenpeace/Japan, which does not have a vested interest in nuclear power, may be one of the only reliable sources, especially since it has boots on the ground, testing for radiation. Since 2011, Greenpeace has conducted over 25 extensive surveys for radiation throughout Fukushima Prefecture.

In which case, the Japanese people should take heed because PM Abe is pushing hard to reopen nuclear plants and pushing hard to repopulate Fukushima, of course, well ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics since there will be events held in Fukushima Prefecture. After all, how can one expect Olympians to populate Fukushima if Japan’s own citizens do not? But, as of now to a certain extent citizens are pushing back. Maybe they instinctively do not trust their own government’s assurances.

But, more chilling yet, after extensive boots-on-the-ground analyses, Greenpeace issued the following statement in March 2016: “Unfortunately, the crux of the nuclear contamination issue – from Kyshtym to Chernobyl to Fukushima- is this: When a major radiological disaster happens and impacts vast tracts of land, it cannot be ‘cleaned up’ or ‘fixed’.” (Source: Hanis Maketab, Environmental Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Will Last ‘decades to centuries’ – Greenpeace, Asia Correspondent, March 4, 2016).

That is a blunt way of saying sayonara to habitation on radioactive contaminated land. That’s why Chernobyl is a permanently closed restricted zone for the past 30 years.

As far as “returning home” goes, if Greenpeace/Japan ran the show rather than PM Abe, it appears they would say ‘no’. Greenpeace does not believe it is safe. Greenpeace International issued a press release a little over one month ago with the headline: Radiation Along Fukushima Rivers up to 200 Times Higher Than Pacific Ocean Seabed – Greenpeace Press Release, July 21, 2016.

Here’s what they discovered: “The extremely high levels of radioactivity we found along the river systems highlights the enormity and longevity of both the environmental contamination and the public health risks resulting from the Fukushima disaster,” says Ai Kashiwagi, Energy Campaigner at Greenpeace Japan.

These river samples were taken in areas where the Abe government is stating it is safe for people to live. But the results show there is no return to normal after this nuclear catastrophe,” claims Kashiwagi.

Riverbank sediment samples taken along the Niida River in Minami Soma, measured as high as 29,800 Bq/kg for radiocaesium (Cs-134 and 137). The Niida samples were taken where there are no restrictions on people living, as were other river samples. At the estuary of the Abukuma River in Miyagi prefecture, which lies more than 90km north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, levels measured in sediment samples were as high as 6,500 Bq/kg” (Greenpeace).

The prescribed safe limit of radioactive cesium for drinking water is 200 Bq/kg. A Becquerel (“Bq”) is a gauge of strength of radioactivity in materials such as Iodine-131 and Cesium-137 (Source: Safe Limits for Consuming Radiation-Contaminated Food, Bloomberg, March 20, 2011).

The lifting of evacuation orders in March 2017 for areas that remain highly contaminated is a looming human rights crisis and cannot be permitted to stand. The vast expanses of contaminated forests and freshwater systems will remain a perennial source of radioactivity for the foreseeable future, as these ecosystems cannot simply be decontaminated” (Greenpeace).

Still, the Abe administration is to be commended for its herculean effort to try to clean up radioactivity throughout Fukushima Prefecture, but at the end of the day, it may be for naught. A massive cleanup effort is impossible in the hills, in the mountains, in the valleys, in the vast forests, along riverbeds and lakes, across extensive meadows in the wild where radiation levels remain deadly dangerous. Over time, it leaches back into decontaminated areas.

And as significantly, if not more so, what happens to the out-of-control radioactive blobs of corium? Nobody knows where those are, or what to do about it. It’s kinda like the mystery surrounding black holes in outer space, but nobody dares go there.

Fukushima is a story for the ages because radiation doesn’t quit. Still, the Olympics must go on, but where?

http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/12/fukushima-backlash-hits-japan-prime-minister/

September 13, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

80% of disaster-hit municipalities want legal revision to meet needs: survey

A large majority of municipalities that were hit by massive earthquakes and other disasters in recent years called for expanding the coverage of a law aimed at providing financial assistance for rebuilding damaged homes, a Mainichi Shimbun survey has learned.

The survey, conducted on Sept. 11, covered 61 cities, towns and villages in six prefectures that suffered enormous damage from the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, the September 2015 Kanto-Tohoku floods and the April 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes. It found that 80 percent of those municipalities believe the Act on Support for Reconstructing Livelihoods of Disaster Victims should be revised, underscoring the fact that the law is not sufficiently catering to the needs of victims in disaster areas.

Under this law, up to 3 million yen each is provided to those whose homes were entirely destroyed in disasters, and those whose homes were partially damaged and require extensive repair work can also receive financial assistance. However, other partially damaged homes are not covered by the law. The most common answer among the disaster-hit municipalities was to update the law to provide aid to households whose homes were partially destroyed but are not covered by the law. The second most common response was to raise the amount of relief money provided to affected households. The central government, however, is reluctant to review the support law.

Specifically, the survey covered 12 municipalities in Iwate Prefecture, 15 in Miyagi Prefecture, 10 in Fukushima Prefecture, five in Ibaraki Prefecture, four in Tochigi Prefecture and 15 in Kumamoto Prefecture. Of them, 57 municipalities responded except for four municipalities that suffered extensive damage from Typhoon Lionrock.

Forty-nine municipalities responding to the latest survey said the support law needs to be improved. Asked to choose from eight options for improvement, 24 municipalities said the financial assistance should be expanded to cover those whose homes were partially damaged; 17 municipalities said the amount of financial relief should be raised; and nine municipalities called for flexibility in recognizing damage to residences.

The Tochigi Prefecture city of Nikko called for expanding the law’s coverage to partially damaged houses, with a municipal government official saying, “There are partially destroyed houses whose status is infinitely close to damage requiring major repair work, and it is difficult to win victims’ understanding just by drawing such a simple line.” An official with the Iwate Prefecture city of Rikuzentakata said, “There is an enormous gap between households whose homes were partially damaged (and are thus cast out of the law) and other households that benefited from the support law.”

In areas damaged by the 2011 disaster, the most common request for the central government was to raise the amount of financial assistance provided to affected households. Behind the results are rising costs due to the reconstruction boom in disaster areas. “Construction costs are skyrocketing,” said an official with the Iwate Prefecture town of Yamada. As some victims lost all their furniture and other assets to tsunami, the Miyagi Prefecture city of Higashimatsushima proposed raising the amount of aid for those whose homes were swept away by tsunami.

Seven municipalities raised questions about the way subsidies are provided on a household-by-household basis under the law and the definition of households — though these were not among prearranged response options. “The amount of subsidies provided to each household is the same regardless of the number of members in a household. If the law takes the number of family members into account, we can provide assistance for their livelihood reconstruction in accordance with the realities they face,” said an official with the Kumamoto Prefecture city of Yatsushiro.

In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake, around 400,000 homes were either completely or partially destroyed, according to the National Police Agency. Of them, only about 193,000 households were eligible to receive financial aid under the support law to rebuild or repair their homes.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office provided a negative view toward legal revision when it was reached by the Mainichi, saying, “Because financial resources are limited, we’d like to respond to the matter by supporting self-help efforts, such as promoting subscriptions to private insurance.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160912/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

September 13, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment