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Fukushima Untreated Bypass Groundwater Dumped into the sea

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Up to October 14, 2016, Tepco has discarded 137 times Fukushima Daiichi untreated groundwater from the bypass into the sea, all totalling now 222,816 tons (58,861,760 gallons).

That not including the 300+ tons a day of untreated groundwater flowing through the plant and into the ocean 24/7 for 5.6 years now.
http://www.tepco.co.jp/nu/fukushima-np/info/baypassold-j.html

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October 15, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | 1 Comment

Fukui poised to benefit from decision to scrap Monju

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Big money pull a million strings
Big money weave a mighty web
Big money draw the flies
— Rush, “The Big Money”

Last month’s announcement that the Monju experimental fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, would likely be decommissioned was an acknowledgement of what had been obvious for decades. Namely, that Monju was too fraught with technical and political problems to have ever stood a chance of success.

For Kansai, the decision brought a feeling of relief among those concerned about a plutonium-producing plant in their backyard, but a feeling of “now what?” among everyone else. No political leader in Osaka, Kyoto, Nara or Kobe either wistfully eulogized or passionately protested the recommendation that Monju, which has cost more than ¥1 trillion, be scrapped. In Fukui, however, it was a different story.

For more than four decades, Fukui’s leaders have finessed the art of extracting (extorting?) as much money from Tokyo as possible in exchange for cooperation in continuing not only Monju but also 13 commercial nuclear reactors, a concentration of nuclear power plants said to be the densest in the world.

Massive amounts of tax money were funneled into the prefecture by the Liberal Democratic Party for all sorts of uses. Some were noble (construction of modern train stations, schools, hospitals and social welfare facilities). Some were corrupt (propaganda museums that played down the risks of nuclear power, all expense-paid “study” tours to Europe’s nuclear reactor towns for local residents that included sightseeing trips to Paris).

Nobody really knows how much money, directly and indirectly, went to Fukui and Tsuruga over the decades for “bearing the burden of Monju.” Unofficial guesses put the figure in the billions of yen. But what has residents in Kansai, and elsewhere, concerned is how much it will cost them, in the form of future government payoffs to Fukui, to be rid of Monju.

The prefecture certainly has friends in high places looking out for its interests. Defense Minister Tomomi Inada, a favorite of Shinzo Abe, represents Fukui’s 1st district. That’s the one without nuclear power plants, but she’s very close to those in Fukui who support them. Then there’s Tsuyoshi Takagi, who served as reconstruction minister. He’s from Tsuruga and represents Fukui’s 2nd district in the Lower House, an area that hosts those 13 commercial nuclear reactors. In short, Fukui has powerful allies who will work hard to ensure all manner of new funding flows to the prefecture and to Tsuruga over the coming decades.

Making matters better for Fukui but worse for taxpayers elsewhere, three commercial reactors will be decommissioned over the next few decades. You can be sure Fukui politicians from the governor on down are drawing up a long wish-list of pork barrel projects they will demand the central government, as well operator Kansai Electric Power Co., fork out in exchange for consenting to each reactor’s decommissioning plans — plans that might include disposing high-level radioactive waste generated by decommissioning in Fukui, over the objections of residents.

In short, decommissioning means big money for Fukui in the years ahead in the form of subsidies, jobs and service-industry income. And not just at Monju, where the basic cost was recently estimated at ¥540 billion.

With predictions it might cost ¥8 trillion to scrap the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, and perhaps a dozen commercial reactors probably heading for the scrap heap in the next decade, Japan has entered the “age of nuclear power decommissioning.”

There’s big money involved that will draw a swarm of flies, especially in towns and prefectures hosting the power plants. Taxpayers elsewhere, therefore, will need to be especially vigilant and handy with the flyswatters and insect repellent.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/15/national/fukui-poised-benefit-decision-scrap-monju/#.WAJ1fCQzYU1

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Cost of pulling plug on reactors

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In its latest discussions on electricity market reform, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is reportedly considering a measure to financially help major power companies with decommissioning their nuclear plants. METI is reportedly weighing having new entrants to the liberalized power retail market shoulder part of the decommissioning cost, which would be added to the electricity bills of their customers. That would be nothing less than welfare for the major suppliers that are seeing nuclear power lose its cost advantages in the face of power retail deregulation since April. The government should avoid policies that could distort the principles of electricity business liberalization.

In its discussions launched in late September, the ministry says the committee will weigh establishing a system that would have power suppliers respond to “issues of public interest,” such as investments to prepare for decommissioning nuclear plants and severe nuclear accidents amid market liberalization. That sounds like a legitimate question to consider, but the measures contemplated by the ministry pose many problems.

One is a change to the accounting system for decommissioning nuclear power plants. Tokyo Electric Power faces massive financial problems in dealing with its Fukushima No. 1 plant, which suffered triple meltdowns after it was hit by the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami. The cost to decommission the crippled plant is certain to far exceed the estimated ¥2 trillion — in fact it is impossible to grasp the total cost at this stage since the technology to remove molten nuclear fuel from its reactors has not yet been established. Compensation for victims of the nuclear disaster, which was estimated in 2014 at ¥4.9 trillion, has already topped ¥6 trillion. The cost to decontaminate areas polluted with radioactive fallout from the plant is likely to top ¥2.5 trillion in the government’s plan.

Even in the absence of a major disaster like the Fukushima catastrophe, the major utilities operating nuclear power plants face a shortage in financial reserves to pay for decommissioning as they needed to scrap the plants earlier than scheduled in response to the tightened plant regulations following the Fukushima disaster, along with the overshooting of the cost of decommissioning from earlier forecasts. Besides Tokyo Electric, five major power firms have made decisions to decommission six of their reactors — one each for Kyushu Electric, Chugoku Electric, Shikoku Electric and Japan Atomic Power and two for Kansai Electric.

To cover the bloated expenses of decommissioning, the ministry is thinking of having all electricity suppliers — including new entrants to the market that do not run nuclear power plants — share the cost in the form of surcharges to the fees that they pay for accessing power transmission lines to service their customers. The cost will then be added to customers’ electricity bills.

Under the current system, the major suppliers operating nuclear power plants can include the cost of decommissioning them in the future — along with all other expenses in their power generation — in their electricity charges. But that system will be abolished in 2020, when their power transmission and distribution sections are to be separated from the power generation operations in the final phase of the reform. The idea of having all suppliers — and consequently all consumers — pay for the cost of decommissioning nuclear plants is intended to cope with this change. However, such a measure will blur the responsibility of major power companies that have relied heavily on nuclear power generation and miscalculated the related costs.

That will also have the effect of denying consumers the right to refuse to pay for electricity generated by nuclear power. The retail market liberalization in April enabled consumers to choose power suppliers, instead of being tied to regional monopolies. Some suppliers offer electricity mainly generated by renewable sources such as solar and wind. But applying the surcharge to all suppliers will result in forcing all consumers — including those who may not want to buy electricity from the former monopolies that run nuclear plants — to shoulder the cost of decommissioning.

The ministry’s committee is also reportedly weighing a scheme to enable suppliers that operate large-scale thermal power plants to receive a certain amount of revenue for keeping the plants even without running them — based on their power-generation capacity. The idea represents another relief measure for major power companies whose thermal power plants saw their operating ratio fall with the sharp rise in renewable sources in recent years. The scheme is touted as necessary to maintain thermal power capacity as a buffer in case the supply from renewable sources decreases. But experience in other countries indicates that such a mechanism is not essential to managing possible fluctuations in the supply of renewable energy.

The government has long based its energy policy on the argument that nuclear power is cheaper than most other forms of power generation. But the fact that it is seeking to introduce a relief measure for major suppliers that run nuclear plants indicates that argument is no longer tenable. The government needs to reflect on the real meaning of the measures it is contemplating.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2016/10/15/editorials/cost-pulling-plug-reactors/#.WAJK0yQzYU0

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Industry minister Seko inspects Ikata nuclear plant

Ikata Nuclear Power Plant is located in Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku, across from the Bungo Channel that separates Kyushu and Shikoku.

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Ikata Nuclear Power Plant with pressurized water reactors by Mitsubishi Heavy Electric sits extremely close to Japan’s Median Tectonic Line, the largest fault in Japan, part of which is active.

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MATSUYAMA (Kyodo) — Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko on Saturday inspected a recently restarted reactor at the Ikata nuclear power plant in western Japan to assess the safety measures there.

Seko visited an observation deck that overlooks the entire complex of Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s plant in Ehime Prefecture, as well as a facility to store spent nuclear fuel in the radiation-controlled area and other locations.

Seko was briefed on a system to provide electricity in the event of earthquakes and other emergencies by Seizo Masuda, the chief of the plant, and expressed satisfaction at the multiple backups available.

The No. 3 reactor at the Ikata plant was reactivated on Aug. 12, having cleared a set of safety requirements imposed in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011.

The 890-megawatt reactor shifted to commercial operation on Sept. 7 following final checks by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The unit had not operated since it was taken off-line in April 2011 for regular checks.

Some snags occurred around the time of its reactivation, including a problem with a pump for the reactor’s primary cooling water and a leakage in a drainage pipe in related equipment.

The reactor is currently the sole unit in operation in Japan running on plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel, which contains plutonium extracted from reprocessing spent fuel.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161015/p2g/00m/0dm/070000c

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Judges may order gov’t to submit redacted report in lawsuit over Fukushima disaster

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A judge presiding at a trial over the Fukushima nuclear crisis said the judges in charge will decide by the end of this year on whether to order the government to submit some of its investigation committee’s reports on the disaster that have been withheld.

Presiding Judge Akihiko Otake at the Tokyo District Court made the remark on Oct. 13 during an oral proceeding of the suit filed by shareholders of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the operator of the crippled nuclear plant, to clarify the responsibility of former TEPCO board members over the disaster.

Otake also said the judges in charge will conduct an in camera review on other documents, part of which has been blacked out before they were disclosed, to deem whether the measure is appropriate.

Specifically, the judges will examine documents recording statements by the now deceased Masao Yoshida, who headed the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant at the time of the outbreak of the disaster in March 2011, and those by two officials of the then Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The documents were disclosed after the names of individuals and some other information were blacked out. The court said it has already ordered the Cabinet Office to submit the documents with the blacked-out parts unveiled. The Cabinet Office has reportedly responded that it intends to comply with the order by the end of this week.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161014/p2a/00m/0na/005000c

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

An obscure election race in Japan may decide the fate of the world’s biggest nuclear plant

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A visitor is silhouetted next to binoculars as he looks at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant, which is the world’s biggest, at an observatory of its exhibition hall in Kashiwazaki

NIIGATA, Japan (Reuters) – A regional election north of Tokyo between candidates most Japanese have never heard of may decide the fate of the world’s biggest nuclear plant and mark a turning point for an industry all but shut down after the Fukushima disaster.

The campaign for governor of Niigata Prefecture has boiled down to two men and one issue: whether to restart the seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station.

Reviving the seven-reactor giant, with capacity of 8 gigawatts, is key to saving Tokyo Electric Power, which was brought low by the 2011 Fukushima explosions and meltdowns, and then the repeated admissions of cover-ups and safety lapses after the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Tepco, as the company supplying about a third of Japan’s electricity is known, is in turn vital to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s energy policy, which relies on rebooting more of the reactors that once met about 30 percent of the nation’s needs.

But Ryuichi Yoneyama, 49, an anti-nuclear doctor-lawyer who has never held office and is backed by mostly left-wing parties, has made a tight race for governor of Niigata against an initially favored veteran politician from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear party, Japanese media say.

In a sign that Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party also sees a tough contest, party heavyweights were dispatched to campaign for Tamio Mori, 67. The former mayor and construction ministry bureaucrat is seen more likely to allow Kashiwazaki-Kariwa to restart.

Distrust of Tepco, put under government control in 2012, is so high in Niigata that this election has become a litmus test for nuclear safety and put Abe’s energy policy and Tepco’s handling of Fukushima back under the spotlight.

The government wants to restart units that pass safety checks, also promoting renewables and burning more coal and natural gas.

Radiation leaks

Only two of Japan’s 42 reactors are running more than five years after Fukushima, but the Niigata plant’s troubles go back further.

Several reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa have been out of action since an earthquake in 2007 caused radiation leaks and fires in a disaster that prefigured the Fukushima calamity and Tepco’s bungled response.

A Tepco spokeswoman said the company could not comment on the election and was committed to boosting safety at the plant.

On the campaign trail in Niigata, help for Tepco is in short supply.

Yoneyama has promised to continue the outgoing governor’s policy of refusing to allow a restart unless Tepco provides a fuller explanation of the Fukushima disaster.

He has run for local office unsuccessfully four times but says this time he feels different, as the public supports his anti-nuclear, anti-Tepco message.

Yoneyama, who has worked as a radiological researcher, says Tepco doesn’t have the means to prevent Niigata children from getting thyroid cancer in a nuclear accident, as he says has happened in Fukushima. And he says the company doesn’t have a solid evacuation plan.

“As I go from town to town and village to village, I hear the same thing: ‘We want you to protect this town. We want you to protect our hometown, our lives and our children’s future,'” he told a crowd in Nagaoka this week.

The LDP’s Mori has toned down his support for restarting the plant as the race tightens, media say, and now insists that safety is the top priority for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, while promoting the use of natural gas and solar power in Niigata.

LDP heavyweight Shigeru Ishiba, a former cabinet minister and party secretary-general, told Reuters the party sent him to Niigata to campaign for Mori because “we can’t take anything for granted”.

“Mr. Mori is not a person who just acquiesces to what the national government says,” Ishiba said. “He has courage and will stand up to the government if he thinks our policies are wrong.”

http://uk.businessinsider.com/r-japan-election-key-to-worlds-biggest-nuclear-plant-and-abes-energy-policy-2016-10?r=US&IR=T

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Sharp Increase in Autism Rate Among California Kindergartners: Could Increase be Linked to Fukushima Fallout?

To reiterate, the article is reporting that autism cases grew 17% in kindergartners in 2015.

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I was searching for the new autism diagnostic rate and discovered that California has a significant increase in autism incidents among kindergartners:

Reese, Phillip. July 18 2016. Autism rates in California public schools jumped 7 percent in 2016. Sacramento Bee, http://www.sacbee.com/site-services/databases/article90300877.html#storylink=cpy

The increase was especially sharp among kindergartners, where autism cases grew by 17 percent last year [2015]. More than one of every 65 kindergartners in California public schools is classified as autistic

To reiterate, the article is reporting that autism cases grew 17% in kindergartners in 2015.

Wow! While some experts will attribute the increase to more screening, I wonder whether the increase is linked to Fukushima fallout.

Ernest J. Sternglass and Steven Bell argued in 1983 that radioactive iodine from nuclear fallout could impact cognitive development in the womb and early infancy:

Ernest J. Sternglass and Steven Bell. 1983. Fallout and SAT Scores: Evidence for Cognitive Damage during Early Infancy. The Phi Delta Kappan, Vol. 64, No. 8 (Apr., 1983), pp. 539-545. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20386800 Accessed: 12-10-2016 17:25 UTC

[exceroted] This fallout acts on the thyroid of the developing fetus in the mother’s womb and during infancy, when the thyroid is known to control the development of cognitive functions. In this article we will present the most recent evidence sup porting this hypothesis, as contained in newly available state-by-state data on SAT scores and data collected by the U.S. Public Health Service on radioactive fission products in pasteurized milk (p. 539)

In 1962, Harold Knapp described how radioiodine from a single deposition in pasture-land bioaccumulates and biomagnifies, producing substantial and injurious radiation doses for children consuming milk.[i]

Declassified NRC transcripts of conference calls that occurred on 17 March 2011 concerning Fukushima fallout reveal that the agency had projections of a 40 millisievert (annualized) dose to the thyroid from radioactive iodine for a one-year old child in California: 

The DITTRA result was four rem [40,000 microsieverts or 40 millisieverts] to the thyroid of a one year-old child based on one year integration of uptake.’[ii] 

Parents in North America were not warned about the dangers of radioactive iodine in dairy products.

California children born in 2010 would have been exposed to Fukushima fallout of radioiodine (I-29, I-131, I-133) and other radionuclides in early infancy.  According to Wikipedia there are 37 known isotopes of iodine and all are radioactive except for 127 (Isotopoes of Iodine Wikipedia).

Radioiodine wasn’t the only radioactive element that came down in Fukushima’s black rain. Strontium, in particular, can be accumulated in the brain as a substitute for calcium.

Hence, it is possible that the uptick in autism diagnoses could be explained in part by Fukushima fallout.

Fukushima impacts could be investigated in two ways:
1. Thyroid screening of California children diagnosed with autism or PDD
2. Baby teeth screening for radiostrontium, which bioaccumulates in teeth and bones

Of course, thyroid anomalies cannot be proven to have been caused by Fukushima (see Japan as the case example on this matter).

But higher rates of thyroid anomalies when correlated with evidence of radiostrontium in baby teeth would provide enough circumstantial evidence to force public attention to potentially catastrophic health (and environmental) effects from our increasingly radioactive and toxic environment.

It is imperative that potential Fukushima fallout effects be investigated by impartial actors who will conduct impartial science (to the extent possible) to investigate health and reproductive effects across generations.

I am not convinced that this happening in Japan (via the Fukushima Health Management Survey) and it is most definitely not happening in the US despite evidence collected by the US Geological Survey of Fukushima fallout throughout the western US.


[i] S. Kirsch (2004) ‘Harold Knapp and the Geography of Normal Controversy: Radioiodine in the Historical Environment’, Osiris, 19, 167-181.
[ii] U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission (17 March 2011) ‘Official Transcript of Proceedings of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi ET Audio File’, http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1205/ML12052A109.pdf, p. 187, date accessed November 5, 2012.

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2016/10/sharp-increase-in-autism-rate-among.html

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | 1 Comment

Autoradiograph – visualizing radiation – Satoshi Mori / Masamichi Kagaya

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Whether in Tokyo, Fukushima, or even in front of the destroyed nuclear reactor buildings, we are exposed to radiation that we are unaware of. It is too small to see, it cannot be heard and it is odorless. Therefore, despite living in a region contaminated with radioactive particles, to this day, we are not consciously aware of the radiation. NaI (TI) scintillation detectors and germanium semiconductor detectors are used to measure the amount of radioactive contamination in soil, food, and water in units called Becquerels (Bq). Radioactivity is further measured in Sieverts (Sv), which is an index of the effects of radioactive levels in the air, doses of exposure, and so on.

Nevertheless, from such values, it is impossible to know how the radioactive particles are distributed or where they are concentrating in our cities, lakes, forests, and in living creatures. These values do not enable us to “see” the radioactivity. Thus, radioactive contamination has to be perceived visibly, something that can be done with the cooperation of Satoshi Mori, Professor emeritus at Tokyo University. Professor Mori is using autoradiography to make radioactive contamination visible.

Today, dozens of radiographic images of plants created by Professor emeritus Mori since 2011 are on display together with radiographic images of everyday items and animals.

This collection of radiographic images (autoradiographs) is the first in history to be created for objects exposed to radiation resulting from a nuclear accident. It is with hope that visitors will come away with a sense of the extent of contamination in all regions subject to the fallout — not just those in and around Fukushima.

At the same time, It is hoped that this exhibition will remind visitors of the large region extending from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant to Namie Town, Iitate Village and the dense forests of the Abukuma Mountain Area that, to this day, remain restricted areas. The radiation affects animals that continue to live in these areas and be exposed to heavy radiation, as well as the 140,000 people that had to evacuate and who lost personal assets (homes, property, work, interpersonal relationships). These people are in addition to the victims who directly breathed in the radioactive materials, subjecting them to internal exposure — victims that include anyone from the residents near the plant to people in Tokyo and the Kanto Region.

Although what can be done is limited, new progress has made it possible to record the otherwise invisible radioactivity and make it visible. The history of needless nuclear accidents occurring in the United States, the Soviet Union (Russia) and Japan over the last several decades may still potentially be repeated elsewhere in the world, but hopefully future generations will see the cycle be broken. Through exhibitions and other means of disseminating knowledge about radioactivity, future generations may learn to leave behind dependence on nuclear power and be free from the dangers of nuclear accidents and nuclear waste.

http://www.autoradiograph.org/en/app/

https://itunes.apple.com/fr/app/autoradiograph-visualizing/id1074077814?mt=8

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

One plant illustrates the bleak outlook for the country’s idle reactors

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THE Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the world’s largest, is a hub of activity. Its 6,619 employees dutifully clock on and off every day. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), its owner, spent ¥606 billion ($5.8 billion) last year maintaining it and its other nuclear plants. Yet Kashiwazaki-Kariwa has not generated a single watt of electricity since 2011, when it was shut down along with the rest of Japan’s nuclear reactors after the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear accident.

TEPCO has applied to Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) to restart two of the plant’s seven reactors. But even if the regulators approve the request, politics may stymie it. On October 16th voters in Niigata, the prefecture in which Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is located, will elect a new governor. The two leading candidates have not been as vocally opposed to the restart as Hirohiko Izumida, the outgoing governor, but public opinion is strongly against

Before the disaster, Japan had 54 working reactors. The six at Fukushima Dai-Ichi (pictured) are to be decommissioned. Of the remaining 48, the NRA has received applications to restart 26. It has approved only eight of them so far, and just two reactors are currently operating (see map). A third is closed for maintenance. Local officials—who have some say over restarts—adverse court rulings and other glitches have held up the others. Meanwhile, an anti-nuclear governor is suing to get one of the two working reactors shut down again.

Before the disaster, Japan got 25% of its electricity from nuclear plants. The government of the day was hoping to raise that to 50% by 2020. The present government hopes nuclear power will supply 20-22% of its electricity by 2030. But the slow progress on restarting mothballed plants is calling its plans into question. Nuclear plants currently supply less than 1% of Japan’s electricity; few see that rising beyond 10% by 2030. “Nuclear’s comeback will be modest and brief,” predicts Robert Feldman of Morgan Stanley, a bank.

Concerns about public safety are understandably acute in one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries. No deaths have been linked to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi accident (though many fear that cancer rates will increase in future), but at least 150,000 were displaced from the vicinity of the plant, almost all of whom still live in temporary housing. (More than 15,000 people were killed by the earthquake and tsunami that led to the disaster.)

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Regulators’ authority has been hugely enhanced since the creation of the NRA in 2012. It has introduced a host of new safety requirements. TEPCO has spent ¥470 billion ($4.6 billion) upgrading Kashiwazaki-Kariwa alone. Employees point to its many fail-safes: a 15-metre-high sea wall to protect it from tsunamis (the main cause of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi meltdown), multiple backup power sources, scores of fire engines and a huge reservoir of cooling water. In one room, instructors watch as trainees respond to simulated emergencies. Today’s involves turbine trouble.

Yet problems remain. Posters at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa encourage workers to adopt a “questioning attitude”—part of an attempt to change a culture of deference to authority. This is “a work in progress”, says Dale Klein, a former head of America’s nuclear regulator who now chairs TEPCO’s safety commission. Mr Izumida argues that evacuation plans for people living close to the plant are inadequate. “It is unclear how we will get the 10,000 buses needed to transport the 440,000 people living in the vicinity of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa,” he says. It doesn’t help that responsibilities in an emergency are not clearly apportioned among the utilities, the central government and municipalities.

Anti-nuclear groups maintain that concerns over the financial health of Japan’s utilities are playing too big a part in the government’s decisions about nuclear power. They maintain that Japan can do without nuclear by boosting the role of renewables. Energy demand is rising only modestly, since the population is shrinking and the country has become far more energy-efficient since the disaster. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, an NGO, ranks it as the second most frugal country in the world, after Germany.

But the lack of nuclear power leaves Japan heavily dependent on imported energy, points out Jun Arima of the University of Tokyo. Before the disaster, imported fossil fuels accounted for 64% of the electricity it generated; now that share has risen to 82%, one of the highest among rich countries (see chart). Steady imports require good relations with the Middle East, a combustible region. The expense of importing more natural gas, the main substitute for the lost nuclear capacity, has prompted power prices to soar. That is unpopular with the public, and has contributed to a deteriorating trade balance.

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The loss of nuclear generation has environmental consequences, too. Power plants that run on natural gas (and, worse, the old coal-fired plants that have been started up again to make up for the lack of nuclear power) emit far more greenhouse gases. Coal alone accounts for 31% of the country’s total energy mix, compared with 25% in 2010; add in oil and natural gas, and the total contribution of fossil fuels has risen from 61% in 2010 to 85% today. All this makes it highly unlikely that Japan will meet its pledge to cut its carbon-dioxide emissions by 26% by 2030.

Moreover, even if Japan manages to restart a few more of its reactors, many of them are old. If restarting the current fleet is unpopular, building new ones would be toxic to many voters. And then there is the question of what to do with Monju, a fast-breeder reactor (one that generates more fuel than it consumes) which cost $10 billion to build but has generated power for only one hour since its inauguration in 1995 owing to a series of accidents. Even if the government decommissions it, there will be no nuclear-power plants to consume the fuel it has already produced.

http://www.economist.com/news/asia/21708727-one-plant-illustrates-bleak-outlook-countrys-idle-reactors-stop-start?fsrc=rss

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

Toyama tritium researcher’s data targeted in cyberattacks

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Research data and personal information may have been stolen from a personal computer belonging to a researcher of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, at the University of Toyama’s Hydrogen Isotope Research Center, the university said.

In addition to research data, hackers may have stolen personal information such as email addresses on some 1,500 people, including other researchers, the school said Monday.

Most of the possibly affected research data were those that have already been published or were slated to be published, and no highly confidential information was compromised, it said.

According to the university, two staff members of the center received emails containing a virus in November 2015 and a PC of one of them, a member of the teaching staff, was infected. The PC continued questionable communications with an outside party for about six months.

The center learned of the virus infection in June following an alert from an outside organization.

The university, based in the city of Toyama, briefed the education ministry on the cyberattacks in mid-June. Earlier in October, it started informing researchers who may have been affected.

The center conducts research on hydrogen, deuterium and tritium, including their use for energy.

Tritium is regarded as a candidate for fuel in nuclear fusion reactors, and is also one of the contaminants in the water building up at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/11/national/crime-legal/toyama-tritium-researchers-data-targeted-cyberattacks/#.WAJGziQzYU1

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Debate in South Korea over defense strategy

flag-S-KoreaSeoul Questions Own Defense Strategy as North Korea Nuclear Threat Grows  South Korean defense spending is up and a debate is growing over the nuclear option. WSJ,  By ALASTAIR GALE Oct. 13, 2016 SEOULNorth Korea’s nuclear push is triggering a military buildup here and adding fuel to a hot debate over South Korea’s defense strategy—including whether the country should have its own nuclear option.

A few conservative politicians and a small majority in opinion polls have for years supported South Korea getting access to nuclear weapons. Lately, some prominent new voices have joined them, including Kim Jin-pyo, a four-term lawmaker from the main, left-of-center opposition party, who said Seoul needed a “balance of terror” to match North Korea’s threat.

Mr. Kim said nuclear weapons in South Korea would also pressure China and Russia to deal with North Korea more seriously……..

The government, however, strongly resists a nuclear option, citing the U.S. umbrella and the negative diplomatic and economic repercussions of opting out of the international nonproliferation regimen. Asked about the experts’ report, the president’s spokesman said: “Our government’s position remains unchanged and we are committed to a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.”

Under a separate bilateral treaty renewed last year, South Korea is barred from creating nuclear material for weapons in return for U.S. fuel for its atomic-power reactors.

American officials say there has been no discussion about redeploying nuclear weapons here. One senior South Korean government official said privately that calls for Seoul to deploy them were “bullshit.”

But as North Korea advances toward a more-threatening arsenal, including nuclear-tipped missiles that could be fired from submarines, discussion in the South over how to respond has intensified. Talk from military officials of pre-emptive strikes if a nuclear attack appears imminent has become frequent.

Uncertainty over Pyongyang’s progress has amplified fears. “The South Koreans are so nervous because they don’t know what they’re looking at,” said Robert Kelly, a professor of political science at Pusan National University in South Korea………

Against the rising hawkish voices, some South Korean politicians question the effectiveness of nuclear weapons or shows of force in deterring Mr. Kim.

Joo Seung-young, a member of a minor opposition party, said this month that U.S. bomber flights “might just heighten nuclear tension” on the Korean Peninsula……. —Min Sun Lee contributed to this article.

Write to Alastair Gale at alastair.gale@wsj.com       http://www.wsj.com/articles/seoul-questions-own-defense-strategy-as-north-korea-nuclear-threat-grows-1476350823

October 15, 2016 Posted by | South Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

European institutions unwise to be backing Ukraine’s dangerous nuclear reactors

On the domestic front, opposition to nuclear decision-making is silenced. Our colleagues in Ukraine, who have been voicing safety concerns, were sued in 2015 by Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear operator, and the state nuclear regulator joined in later. Eventually, the court backed the plaintiffs, who argued the public critique of the nuclear revival programme was inappropriate. Meanwhile, EU institutions keep on paying to support Ukraine’s aging nuclear fleet and claim to support democracy and rule of law in the country. 

New life for Ukraine’s aging nuclear power plants  https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/iryna-holovko-dana-marekova/new-life-for-ukraine-s-aging-nuclear-power-plants IRYNA HOLOVKO and DANA MAREKOVA 14 October 2016 European institutions are helping Ukraine extend its already outdated nuclear operations — increasing short-term risks and halting energy alternatives for the future. In the past few weeks, two of Ukraine’s Soviet-era nuclear reactors received a lease on life for an additional 10 years beyond their originally projected life-span. Units 1 and 2 at the Zaporizhska nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest, are the fifth and sixth units to have their expiry dates extended by Ukraine’s nuclear regulator. This is a dangerous move, which violates international law and democratic principles.

Map-Ukraine-nuke-reactors

Nuclear proponents, Ukrainian governmental officials and the state nuclear power operator Energoatom argue these extensions are necessary. But is it really? And who benefits from the continued operation of Ukraine’s aging nuclear fleet? Continue reading

October 15, 2016 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Political importance of Niigata Prefecture ‘s election

Abe,-Shinzo-nukeJapan election key to world’s biggest nuclear plant and Abe’s energy policy, Reuters   By Kentaro Hamada Additonal reporting by Osamu Tsukimori; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by William Mallard and Nick Macfie NIIGATA, JAPAN, 14 OCT 16, 

A regional election north of Tokyo between candidates most Japanese have never heard of may decide the fate of the world’s biggest nuclear plant and mark a turning point for an industry all but shut down after the Fukushima disaster.

The campaign for governor of Niigata Prefecture has boiled down to two men and one issue: whether to restart the seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Station.

Reviving the seven-reactor giant, with capacity of 8 gigawatts, is key to saving Tokyo Electric Power, which was brought low by the 2011 Fukushima explosions and meltdowns, and then the repeated admissions of cover-ups and safety lapses after the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Tepco, as the company supplying about a third of Japan’s electricity is known, is in turn vital to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s energy policy, which relies on rebooting more of the reactors that once met about 30 percent of the nation’s needs.

But Ryuichi Yoneyama, 49, an anti-nuclear doctor-lawyer who has never held office and is backed by mostly left-wing parties, has made a tight race for governor of Niigata against an initially favored veteran politician from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pro-nuclear party, Japanese media say.

In a sign that Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party also sees a tough contest, party heavyweights were dispatched to campaign for Tamio Mori, 67. The former mayor and construction ministry bureaucrat is seen more likely to allow Kashiwazaki-Kariwa to restart.

Distrust of Tepco, put under government control in 2012, is so high in Niigata that this election has become a litmus test for nuclear safety and put Abe’s energy policy and Tepco’s handling of Fukushima back under the spotlight.

RADIATION LEAKS
Only two of Japan’s 42 reactors are running more than five years after Fukushima, but the Niigata plant’s troubles go back further.

Several reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa have been out of action since an earthquake in 2007 caused radiation leaks and fires in a disaster that prefigured the Fukushima calamity and Tepco’s bungled response.

A Tepco spokeswoman said the company could not comment on the election and was committed to boosting safety at the plant.

On the campaign trail in Niigata, help for Tepco is in short supply.

Yoneyama has promised to continue the outgoing governor’s policy of refusing to allow a restart unless Tepco provides a fuller explanation of the Fukushima disaster.

He has run for local office unsuccessfully four times but says this time he feels different, as the public supports his anti-nuclear, anti-Tepco message.Yoneyama, who has worked as a radiological researcher, says Tepco doesn’t have the means to prevent Niigata children from getting thyroid cancer in a nuclear accident, as he says has happened in Fukushima. And he says the company doesn’t have a solid evacuation plan.

“As I go from town to town and village to village, I hear the same thing: ‘We want you to protect this town. We want you to protect our hometown, our lives and our children’s future,'” he told a crowd in Nagaoka this week……..http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear-election-idUSKBN12E12D

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Germany’s leading utilities to start contributing to nuclear waste storage fund

German power firms to shift funds in landmark nuclear deal , Reuters 14 Oct 16 

* Bill of 23.6 billion euros for waste storage – draft law

* Utilities can pay in instalments to 2026

* First payment must be 20 pct of total sum

* Shares in E.ON, RWE, EnBW rise on clarity (Recasts, adds funding breakup, details)

By Markus Wacket BERLIN, Germany’s leading utilities will start contributing next year to a 23.6 billion euro ($26.4 billion) fund as a condition for shifting liability for nuclear waste storage to the government, giving investors greater clarity over their future finances.

The new legislation, seen by Reuters on Friday, will remove uncertainty about the costs of storing waste — the most complex and costly aspect of nuclear decommissioning — which has been a major drag on German utility stocks.

The utilities will remain responsible for dismantling the country’s nuclear plants, the last of which will be shut down in 2022 as part of Germany’s abandonment of the technology, a decision triggered by Japan’s Fukushima disaster five years ago.

The German cabinet is set to approve the law on Oct. 19, bringing to an end lengthy negotiations between Berlin and the country’s four major energy groups — E.ON, RWE , EnBW and Vattenfall — on a waste storage deal proposed in April.

With a combined liability of about 16.7 billion euros, E.ON and RWE will have to stump up most of the funds. E.ON has said it might carry out a share sale to raise about 2 billion euros to help achieve this……..

The utilities had been pushing to get favourable terms from the government, arguing they have been hammered by plunging power prices, a shift towards renewable energy and Germany’s nuclear exit, which has taken its toll on their finances…….http://www.reuters.com/article/germany-nuclear-waste-idUSL8N1CK1X4

October 15, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, Germany, politics | Leave a comment

Pakistan may be building a new uranium enrichment complex

Satellite Images Appear to Show Construction of New Nuclear Site in Pakistan.  https://sputniknews.com/asia/201609161045390824-pakistan-nuclear-site/  Amid the frenzy surrounding North Korea’s recent nuclear test, a new analysis suggests that Pakistan may also be beefing up its stockpiles of atomic weapons.
A report posted to 38 North on Thursday estimates that North Korea could be in possession of roughly 20 atomic bombs by the end of the year. Its [DPRK] ability to field an ICBM fitted with a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the United States is still a long way off – perhaps 5 to 10 years, but likely doable if the program is unconstrained,” the report reads.

But as the global community reacts to Pyongyang, an analysis from IHS Jane’s reveals that Pakistan may also be increasing its nuclear stockpiles, building a new uranium enrichment complex.  “The area of interest is approximately 1.2 hectares and is located within the secure area of the Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), in the southwestern part of the complex,” the analysis states.

“Roughly rectangular in shape and approximately 140 x 80 meters, the new structure is surrounded by scrubland and trees that provide an additional measure of security on the ground,” IHS Jane reports.

The report is based on satellite surveillance of the site, located in the town of Kahuta, roughly 30 kilometers east of Islamabad. “It is sited within an established centrifuge facility, has strong security and shows some of the structural features of a possible new uranium enrichment facility. This makes it a strong candidate for a new centrifuge facility,” said Karl Dewey, an analyst with IHS Jane’s, according to the Indian Express.

If true, this development could cause problems for Pakistan’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group.
It is difficult to see how these actions are consistent with the principles of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, a group of responsible nuclear exporters which Pakistan is seeking to join,” Ian Stewart, head of Project Alpha at King’s College London, told the Indian Express.

Pakistan conducted its first nuclear test in 1998 and is believed to be in possession of roughly 120 nuclear weapons. The country relies on three commercial nuclear power plants and plans to construct 32 additional plants by 2050.

October 15, 2016 Posted by | Pakistan, weapons and war | Leave a comment