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Fukushima aftershock renews public concern about restarting Kansai’s aging nuclear reactors

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KYOTO – The magnitude-7.4 aftershock that rocked Fukushima Prefecture and its vicinity last week, more than five years after the mega-quake and tsunami of March 2011, triggered fresh nuclear concerns in the Kansai region, which hosts Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The aftershock came as the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved a two-decade extension for Mihama’s No. 3 reactor on Nov. 16, allowing it and two others that have already been approved to run for as long as 60 years to provide electricity to the Kansai region.

Residents need to live with the fact that they are close to the Fukui reactors, which are at least 40 years old. Despite reassurances by Kepco, its operator, and the nuclear watchdog, worries remain over what would happen if an earthquake similar to the one in 2011, or even last week, hit the Kansai region.

Kyoto lies about 60 km and Osaka about 110 km from the old Fukui plants. Lake Biwa, which provides water to about 13 million people, is less than 60 km away.

In addition to Kepco’s 40-year-old Mihama No. 3, reactors 1 and 2 at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui are 42 and 41 years old, respectively.

In the event of an accident, evacuation procedures for about 253,000 residents of Fukui, Shiga, and Kyoto prefectures who are within 30 km of the plants would go into effect.

But how effective might they be?

The majority does not live in Fukui. Just over half, or 128,500, live in neighboring Kyoto, especially in and around the port city of Maizuru, home to a Self-Defense Forces base. Another 67,000 live in four towns in Fukui and about 58,000 live in northern Shiga Prefecture.

Plans call for Fukui and Kyoto prefecture residents to evacuate to 29 cities and 12 towns in Hyogo Prefecture and, if facilities there are overwhelmed, to Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku. Those in Shiga are supposed to evacuate to cities and towns in Osaka Prefecture.

In a scenario put together by Kyoto Prefecture three years ago, it was predicted that tens of thousands of people would take to available roads in the event of an nuclear accident. A 100 percent evacuation of everyone within 30 km of a stricken Fukui plant was estimated to take between 15 and 29 hours, depending on how much damage there was to the transportation infrastructure.

But Kansai-based anti-nuclear activists have criticized local evacuation plans as being unrealistic for several reasons.

First, they note that the region around the plants gets a lot of snow in the winter, which could render roads, even if still intact after a quake or other disaster, much more difficult to navigate, slowing evacuations even further.

Second is the radiation screening process that has been announced in official local plans drawn up by Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.

While automobiles would be stopped at various checkpoints along the roads leading out of Fukui and given radiation tests, those inside would not be tested if the vehicle itself has radiation levels below the standard.

If the radiation is above standard, one person, a “representative” of everyone in the car, would be checked and, if approved, the car would be allowed to continue on its way under the assumption that the others had also been exposed to levels below standard. This policy stands even if those levels might be more dangerous to children than adults.

Finally, there is the question of whether bus drivers would cooperate by going in and out of radioactive zones to help those who lack quick access to a car, especially senior citizens in need of assistance.

None of the concerns about the evacuation plans is new, and most have been pointed out by safety experts, medical professionals and anti-nuclear groups.

But with the NRA having approved restarts for three Kansai-area reactors that are over 40 years old, Kansai leaders are responding more cautiously to efforts to restart Mihama No. 3 in particular.

It is absolutely crucial that local understanding for Mihama’s restart be obtained,” said pro-nuclear Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa in July, after a local newspaper survey showed that only about 37 percent of Fukui residents agree with the decision to restart old reactors.

Shiga Gov. Taizo Mikazuki, who is generally against nuclear power, was even more critical of the NRA’s decision to restart Mihama.

There are major doubts about the law that regulates the use of nuclear reactors more than 40 years old. The central government and Kepco need to explain safety countermeasures to residents who are uneasy. People are extremely uneasy about continuing to run old reactors,” the governor said earlier this month.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/27/national/fukushima-aftershock-renews-public-concern-restarting-kansais-aging-nuclear-reactors/#.WDu8kFzia-d

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A turbine at the No. 3 reactor of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture is seen on Nov. 16.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Nobel-winning Belarusian writer Alexievich speaks on nuclear disasters and the future of human hubris

Alexievich: “the wonderful civilization turned into garbage” referring to the Fukushima Triple meltdowns…

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Svetlana Alexievich, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in literature, called the nuclear catastrophes at Chernobyl and Fukushima events that people cannot yet fully fathom and warned against the hubris that humans have the power to conquer nature.

The 68-year-old Belarusian writer was in Tokyo at the invitation of researchers at the University of Tokyo, where she gave a lecture on Friday. More than 200 people attended.

The Nobel laureate, who writes in Russian, is known for addressing dramatic and tragic events involving the former Soviet Union World War II, the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster and the 1991 collapse of the communist state.

Her style is distinctive in that she presents the testimonies of ordinary people going through traumatic experiences as they speak, without intruding on their narratives.

Alexievich, who visited the Tomari nuclear power plant in Hokkaido in 2003, recalled a remark by an official there that a catastrophe like Chernobyl would not happen in Japan because “Japanese are well-prepared for quakes and are not drunken, unlike Russians.”

But 10 years later, the wonderful civilization turned into garbage,” she said through a Russian-Japanese interpreter, referring to the 2011 Fukushima core meltdowns.

Humans have occupied a position in nature that they should not. It is impossible for humans to conquer nature.

Nature is now rebelling against humans. We need a philosophy for humans and nature to live together,” she said.

Referring to the policies of Japan and other countries to stick with nuclear power even after Chernobyl and Fukushima, she said: “I think that, unless we change our thinking, nuclear power generation will continue.”

Alexievich also said that documenting catastrophes like Chernobyl and Fukushima, whose effects will last for decades, is a big burden for writers. Listening to the voices of people affected by a catastrophe is like being forced to relive it, she explained.

Yet, pointing out that fictional works on Chernobyl, such as novels and movies, have not been successful, she stressed the importance of collecting the voices of citizens.

A catastrophe has not yet been incorporated into culture. The only language that has been able to convey a catastrophe is testimonies (by people who have experienced it), she said.

She cited the story of a Soviet pilot who died of radiation exposure after splashing sand over the radiation-spewing Chernobyl plant. She remembers him as telling her: “I could not understand what I saw with my eyes. You will not understand, either. But you must record it and hand it down to future generations. Then they may understand it.”

Alexievich acknowledged that people today live in a difficult era.

People are looking to the past to find solutions for today’s problems. This trend is testified to by the rise of conservatism. Never before in the past has the vulnerability of democracy manifested itself so clearly,” she said.

Remembering that even German fascism and Soviet communism are gone, intellectuals need to encourage people so that they will not despair.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/27/national/nobel-winning-belarusian-writer-alexievich-speaks-nuclear-disasters-future-human-hubris

November 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

On shaky ground: Australian uranium and Fukushima

‘There is a clear chain of consequence from a failed nuclear facility on Japan’s East coast to the back of a big yellow truck at an Australian mine-site.’

~ Dave Sweeney

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THE POWERFUL EARTHQUAKE that struck off the coast of Fukushima prefecture in Japan last week, is a stark reminder of the deep and continuing safety concerns following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

The stricken reactor complex remains polluted and porous and every added complication leads to further contamination.

Closer to home the renewed tectonic instability highlights the need for urgent Australian government action on the industry that directly fuelled the continuing nuclear crisis.

In October 2011, Robert Floyd, the director general of the Department of Foregn Affairs and Trade (DFAT) Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO) confirmed to the Federal Parliament that

“Australian obligated nuclear material [uranium] was at the Fukushima Daiichi site and in each of the reactors.”

Rocks dug in Kakadu and northern South Australia are the source of Fukushima’s radioactive fallout. There is a clear chain of consequence from a failed nuclear facility on Japan’s East coast to the back of a big yellow truck at an Australian mine-site.

The Federal Government has cravenly ignored this fact and also remains resistant to an independent cost-benefit assessment of Australia’s uranium trade, as directly requested by the then UN secretary general Ban Ki Moon in the wake of Fukushima.

To date there has been no meaningful response from any Australian government, uranium company, uranium industry body or regulator. There have been political platitudes and industry assurances but no credible attention or action.

Indeed, instead of the requested industry review there has been a retreat from responsibility and a rush to rip and ship more uranium ore by fast-tracking risky and contested new uranium sales deals, including to India and Ukraine.

Despite Canberra’s irresponsible fire sale approach the Australian uranium sector is facing tough times.

“Rocks dug in Kakadu and northern South Australia are the source of Fukushima’s radiocative fallout.”

In June, BHP Billiton, the world’s biggest miner, confirmed that it scrapped its long planned, budgeted and approved Olympic Dam expansion in South Australia because of the impact of the Fukushima disaster on uranium demand and prices.

BHP says:

Fukushima changed everything.’ 

And the result is clear — nuclear power’s contribution to the global energy mix is shrinking and is being eclipsed by renewables. Uranium operations are on hold, extended care and maintenance or well behind planning schedules and prices, profits, share value and employment numbers have gone south.

IBISWorld’s March 2015 market report shows that less than 1,000 people are employed in Australia’s uranium industry. The uranium industry accounts for 0.01 per cent of jobs in Australia and in the 20131/14 financial year, accounted for a scant 0.19 per cent of national export revenue. Despite the uranium industry’s promises, uranium mining is not and never will be a significant source of employment or wealth in Australia.

Fukushima is a global game changer with Australian fingerprints. Like Japan, the Australian uranium sector is also on shaky ground and is in urgent need of review. This high risk, low return sector lacks social licence and it is time for less excuses and more examination of the asbestos of the 21st Century.

https://independentaustralia.net/politics/politics-display/on-shaky-ground-australian-uranium-and-fukushima,9778#.WDuZLkVVYdk.facebook

November 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

2nd Fukushima boy speaks up about bullying in new schools

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A junior high school boy from Fukushima Prefecture recounts his experiences of bullying after he moved to Tokyo with his family as a second-grader in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on Nov. 24

In a troubling development, the bullying of students who fled the Fukushima nuclear disaster is apparently more widespread than the boy whose ordeal in Yokohama recently attracted much media attention and generated public sympathy.

A junior high school boy in Tokyo also has recounted his agonizing experiences of becoming the target of harassment, which continued off and on in his first and second elementary schools in the capital.

Unless a person who experienced it speaks up, a true picture of bullying cannot be conveyed to the public,” the boy, accompanied by his parents, told of his decision to come forward in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun.

When the boy evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture in 2011, following the nuclear accident in March that year, he was in the second grade. All he could take with him from his home in the scramble to flee were a few clothes. He could not bring his school backpack or textbooks.

At his new school, he soon found himself being bullied by his classmates, including girls.

Your germs will infect us,” one said, while another jeered, “What you touch will be contaminated.”

Still another commented, “You are living in a house for free.”

He took down a drawing that was on a classroom wall alongside those of other children after he found some classmates had scribbled disparaging comments on it.

At the school, students formed small groups with their desks when they have school lunch. But students in his group avoided doing so with him.

After the boy tried to join them by pushing his desk toward theirs, a homeroom teacher called his parents to urge him to improve his behavior, saying that their son was “restless.”

The boy finally began to refuse to go to school.

I cannot stand up due to pain in my legs,” he complained to his parents.

His mother decided to transfer him to a new school only several months after he was enrolled in the Tokyo school.

But the boy quickly discovered that the new situation was not much different from his former school.

A teacher introduced him as a Fukushima evacuee in front of the entire school. Soon children asked him how much compensation money his family had received. They also told him that his family must live in a nice home for free just because they were evacuees.

In the face of such bullying at his new school as well, the boy made the wish that he would be strong enough to persevere through the difficulties.

His mother finally took action to help her son when he was a fifth-grader. She brought up his troubles during her talks with his homeroom teacher.

Until then, though concerned, she restrained herself from speaking out in the crowd as several Fukushima evacuees were also attending the school.

If I spoke out in a strong tone, I might have caused trouble for other evacuees,” the mother said of her feelings at the time.

But her patience ran out.

In response to her pleas, the boy’s homeroom teacher asked her to “wait three months,” and the bullying stopped.

But the harassment continued at the boy’s cram school.

A few children from the same school were also enrolled at the cram school, and they, coupled with students from other schools, continued taunting him where the homeroom teacher’s oversight did not reach.

After a child dropped the boy’s shoe in the lavatory basin, he was told, “This is your home.”

The boy mustered the courage to resist when another child, showing him a pet bottle containing leftover food, said the bullying would stop if he consumed it.

The mother, alerted by her son, reported the harassment to cram school officials and the situation improved after that.

The boy said his relationships with his new classmates were good after he entered a junior high school away from his home.

Although he did not reveal that he is an evacuee, he did not become the target of bullying even after his classmates later found out by accident.

I was under the impression that I was not equal to my peers as I was an evacuee at my elementary school,” the boy said. “Children were in an environment that barely accepts individuality and those with differing backgrounds, and an evacuee was viewed as an individual with an abnormal trait.”

The parents said his family, evacuating from outside the evacuation zone, did receive compensation, but only a fraction of the sum a family from the evacuation zone was entitled to.

The family’s access to free housing will end in March.

I am so worried about my future because I have no clue as to our life after that,” he said.

Yuya Kamoshita, who heads a group of evacuees in the Tokyo metropolitan area, said the organization received five other complaints about bullying, in addition to the boy’s case.

He said many children from Fukushima are routinely derided as “a germ” or “dirty” in association with the disaster at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

People around the children who call out those taunts must know about their behavior,” he said. “School officials should make a firm response.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611270040.html

A junior high school boy from Fukushima Prefecture recounts his experiences of bullying after he moved to Tokyo with his family as a second-grader in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun on Nov. 24

November 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Shame on TEPCO For Taking Kids into Fukushima Exclusion Zone for Damage Control Campaign

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On November 18, 2016, Tokyo Electric Power Company, a.k.a. TECPCO, took a group of 13 students wearing dosimeters from Fukushima High School into the exclusion zone around the hobbled Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant for an educational tour. It is the opinion of the EnviroNews World News Editorial Board that this is unacceptable, and should not happen again until all radiation is cleaned up at the site.

The Asahi Shimbun reported, “It was the first tour by youngsters since the disaster as plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. had deemed the radiation risk was too high.”

To be clear, epidemiology and medical science have firmly established there is no “safe” amount of radiation to be exposed to — period — end of story. With each subsequent exposure, no matter how small, the bombarded organism experiences an increase in cancer risk.

Knowing that science has firmly established that there is no “safe” limit of radiation to be exposed to, it is the opinion of the EnviroNews World News Editorial Board that TEPCO should be ashamed of itself for taking a class of high school students into the still radioactive exclusion zone around the crippled power plant as part of what has been a continuous damage control campaign since the accident’s inception. Furthermore, TEPCO should apologize to the families, and commit publicly to not take any more children into the exclusion zone until all radioactivity has been removed.

FUKUSHIMA’S EXCLUSION ZONE: STILL A VERY DANGEROUS PLACE

The exclusion zone around the demolished Fukushima Daiichi power plant is a dangerous place. But when a person goes there, the invisible dangers that lurk don’t threaten to kill or maim right away — the hazardous radioactive rays and particles around Fukushima threaten to kill or harm them at some point years down the road — and those same radioactive exposures can also predispose and mutate their unborn children and grandchildren with birth defects, disease and cancer.

The gestation period of cancers from radiation ranges from as low as four years, to as high as fifty years or more. If an 80-year-old person is exposed to radioactivity, it is likely that other causes, either natural or unnatural, will lead to their demise before maladies caused by radiation will. However, for a very young person subjected to radioactivity, this is not the case, and for this reason, again, TEPCO should be ashamed of itself for taking children who may want to later have children themselves, into the exclusion zone for a publicity stunt. A physical trip to the location is not necessary to educate youth about the Fukushima accident, or nuclear power in general. To make a physical trip to the site with children is highly irresponsible. Less risky means of education must be used instead.

TEPCO AND JAPAN’S CONTINUOUS DAMAGE CONTROL CAMPAIGN

To suggest that TEPCO has been engaging in a continuous campaign of damage control and coverup is not a stretch at all. Earlier this year, TEPCO finally confessed publicly that it lied to the press and the entire world immediately following the meltdowns, downplaying the severity, and not admitting full meltdowns had occurred until several months later, when in fact, the company knew within hours that meltdowns were underway. This blatant lie put many thousands at risk and hampered evacuation strategies. Shortly after the company’s admission, former TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, and two former Vice Presidents, Sakae Muto and Ichiro Takekuro were indicted for “professional negligence resulting in deaths and injury.”

Japan as a country, also has a serious PR problem with the ongoing Fukushima crisis — and that PR issue translates into economic problems, hence, Japan has done anything possible to slap a happy face on the disaster from the get-go.

Though it’s possible to display many examples of this, the country’s fervent and costly effort to host the 2020 Olympics, despite many concerns about Fukushima from the international community, may be the grandest. Japan has done much to stifle and stymie the voices of anti-nuclear protestors, while maintaining everything is “under control” at the rubbled plant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It is the opinion of the EnviroNews World News Editorial Board that TEPCO, and the Japanese government, should come fully clean, relinquish their pridefulness, and engage the international community for help in the cleanup effort.

FUKUSHIMA: A SPEWING NUCLEAR DRAGON STILL ON THE LOOSE

To be clear on another point: the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi is in no way under control — quite the opposite. It is still out of control in many regards. For example, the radioactive waste water pileup problem at Fukushima is beyond critical, as over 1,100 massive storage tanks have engulfed nearly the entire area, filling the crumpled nuke site to the brim with deadly radioactive water. The operator has on multiple occasions had to discharge large amounts of tainted H2O out to sea. Secondly on this point is the fact that deadly uranium and plutonium contaminated water have been leaching into the ocean from under the reactor buildings on a continuous basis due to groundwater seepage.

Japan is a country that has been torn to shreds by radiation poisoning, possibly more than any other. Furthermore, Japan is one of only a couple dozen or so nations on earth suffering population decline, but scarily, Japan’s population is starting to contract at an alarming speed due to a low birth rate. The last thing organizations need to be doing is risking the genetic integrity and fertility of Japan’s youths by taking them to nuclear meltdown ground zeros. TEPCO should hang its head in front of the media, apologize, and agree to engage in no further publicity stunts that endanger the country’s children.

NUCLEAR COMPANIES SHOULD BE LIMITED, OR KEPT OUT OF SCHOOL-BASED NUCLEAR EDUCATION ENTIRELY

On another relevant topic, EnviroNews has long taken issue with nuclear companies being invited to participate in the educational process on nuclear issues, as our research has shown that children’s opinions are easily swayed when “educated” on the topic by nuclear companies. Many of the campaigns we’ve seen represent borderline indoctrination on the pros of nuclear power, while typically failing to mention catastrophes and the practically boundless risks and uncleaned waste sites still plaguing the planet today. Teachers and administrators should use more discretion on a topic as controversial as nuclear, and recognize that the industry’s propaganda campaigns know no boundaries.

One of many examples of these industry-driven “nukewashing” campaigns was witnessed by EnviroNews when EnergySolutions, a nuclear waste disposal company stationed in Utah, “educated” a class of students in Salt Lake City about the “benefits” of radiation. Before the event around three-quarters of the class was opposed to nuclear energy, but when surveyed again after EnergySolutions was finished, around three-quarters of the students had changed their stance to a pro-nuclear position. Naturally, the teacher failed to bring in an educator from any anti-nuclear groups who would paint a different picture entirely. Sadly, the U.S. Government, via the Department of Energy (DOE), has also gotten involved in the nukewashing with a curriculum based program called, the Harnessed Atom.

With that stated, it is the further opinion of the EnviroNews World News Editorial Board that nuclear companies should be kept out of the educational process on nuclear issues entirely — or at least limited to situations where anti-nuke organizations are allowed to present opposing views on the dangers and downsides of nuclear simultaneously.

“The tour made me realize that we should arm ourselves with accurate information if we want to change people’s perceptions of Fukushima as a scary place,” said Keika Kobiyama, a first-year student in the Fukushima High School tour group. Sadly Keika, the leaking radioactive nightmare at Fukushima Daiichi is still a very “scary place,” and should be recognized as such — and if TEPCO told you otherwise, the company is, well, full of radioactive crap. 

http://www.environews.tv/world-news/editorial-shame-tepco-taking-kids-fukushima-exclusion-zone-damage-control-campaign/

 

 

 

November 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Contrary to World Nuclear Association propaganda, the nuclear industry is an economic basket case

To say that the French nuclear industry is in crisis is perhaps an understatement. There are obviously flow on effects on the European power industry

in China solar and wind projects are on steep cost declines, while the cost of nuclear builds continues to rise.

text nuclear hypeNuclear Industry Challenged: Solar And Wind Winning The Low Carbon Competition, Seeking Alpha ,  

  • Significant delays in nuclear implementation in China, with targets not met.
  • France has 20 of 58 nuclear reactors out of action.
  • Vietnam abandons plans to build nuclear reactors with Japan and Russia.
  • Switzerland can’t give its reactors away.

World Nuclear Association figures continue to paint a misleading picture of the industry.

With substantial action on climate change and efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions becoming a major focus, one might expect that the nuclear industry would be a substantial beneficiary.

The big picture on nuclear power

recent report (The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2016) examines the proposal for decarbonising the world economy and there is a section comparing proposals involving renewable energy (solar, wind power) in comparison with nuclear initiatives. The report is comprehensive and provides a lot of factual information about the industry.

Perhaps a key fact is that in 2015, despite it being a good year for the nuclear industry, with nuclear power increasing by 31 TWh (almost all of it in China), renewable energy increase was 250 TWh (8x more than new nuclear capacity).

Ten reactors started up in 2015. While this was more than for any year since 1990, construction of ALL of these reactors was commenced prior to the Fukushima disaster.

In 2010 there were 15 constructions started; in 2015 there were 8 starts, while in the first half of 2016 no construction starts happened.

The number of units under construction has declined for the third year in a row. There were 8 early closures of nuclear plants in 2015.

In 9 of 14 countries currently building nuclear plants, all projects are delayed and mostly by several years. Chile suspended and Indonesia abandoned nuclear plans in 2015.

In 2015 globally, wind power grew by 17%, solar by 33% and nuclear by 1.3%.

Some highlights/lowlights

The above describes the key insights in the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2016.

Here I show that recent developments in France, China, Switzerland and Vietnam are even more challenging for the nuclear industry, notwithstanding major pressure on fossil fuel exploitation as a result of the COP21 agreement becoming binding.

France……. France is not at the end of this crisis yet. All told there are 87 irregularities concerning operational EDF reactors in France, plus 20 issues concerning parts for the Flamanville 3 EPR reactor. There are also other irregularities indicating unacceptable practices in the French nuclear industry.

Since France has been a major figure in the worldwide nuclear industry, questions are being asked about reactors in other parts of the world, including China, Finland, Belgium and the UK. Japanese steel forger JCFC has built partsfor a number of Japanese nuclear reactors, including the Sendai No 2 reactor, which is one of the few Japanese nuclear reactors in operation.

It isn’t suggested that these problems suggest imminent failure, but EDF is being cautious considering the massive implications for a nuclear accident. Recent evaluation has suggested carbon content of the steel in some components (0.39%) being almost double the design specification of 0.22% carbon.

It has been reported as of 25 October to a French Parliamentary hearing that 1-2 more years are needed to check out the reported irregularities. The situation as of October 2016 is that 6 affected French nuclear plants have been given approval to restart, while 7 are being inspected as part of planned outages. Five more have been ordered off-line for checks; 3 more are scheduled to be unavailable through the winter and 1 has been shut down following detection of an irregularity.

To say that the French nuclear industry is in crisis is perhaps an understatement. There are obviously flow on effects on the European power industry….

UK

Will the above issues confronting the French nuclear industry impact the recent UK decision to proceed with the major Hinkley Point C development?

Given that the (still under development) French Flamanville 3 reactor is affected by the French nuclear problems and no new generation reactor is yet operable, one wonders whether the Hinkley Point C project will ever see commercial operation. Indeed the steel casing for EPR reactors in China (two reactors in Taishan) and that proposed for Hinkley Point C (2 reactors) uses/plans to use construction with a similar Areva forging technique used at Flamanville 3.

China

China is the country which carries the future of the nuclear industry. Nuclear power has been part of China’s plans to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, along with hydropower, solar and wind energy. Hydro, solar and wind have all overachieved in terms of China’s initial goals.

Nuclear developments have been more problematic after Fukushima, which led to a review of the program. Today the goal is for 58 GW of nuclear power to be installed and operational by 2020. Currently there are 31.4 GW operating and 19.3 GW under construction. This leaves a shortfall of 7.3 GW, so that the 58 GW goal seems almost certain not to be met.

Just as is happening everywhere else in the world, in China solar and wind projects are on steep cost declines, while the cost of nuclear builds continues to rise.

Vietnam

The Vietnamese Parliament has decided to stop nuclear plans……..

World Nuclear Organisation

Given the slowdown in China, the disaster in France, Vietnam’s decision to stop two nuclear developments and aging nuclear fleets around the world, there are few reasons for optimism, especially for nuclear power in the developed world. India is perhaps the exception.

However, an uncritical viewing of the World Nuclear Organization website exhibits none of these concerns.

Indeed the World Nuclear Association continues to claim 436 operable nuclear reactors worldwide, notwithstanding that a significant proportion of these reactors (notably in Japan) have not operated for more than 5 years.

recent report “World Nuclear Performance Report 2016, Asia Edition” presents an optimistic view of the industry. It is perhaps relevant to read that report with the knowledge of the kinds of announcements that provide the content in this article.

Conclusion

The Fukushima nuclear accident changed the course of the nuclear industry, not only in Japan but globally. The recent problems in France exacerbate the problem and raise issues about new projects such as Hinkley Point C. Developments in other countries (Switzerland, Vietnam) all point to acceleration of the trend away from nuclear power as the world decarbonises. Unlike China’s continued acceleration of renewable energy build, its nuclear program is not meeting its targets.

On the other hand while there is controversy about oversupply of solar PV panels and many solar companies (e.g. First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR)) are trading near year lows, there is every sign that solar companies will become major beneficiaries from the COP21 agreement and declining prospects for the nuclear industry. Of course wind is an essentially carbon free energy source that complements solar PV. Contrarian investors with a long term view might well look at opportunities in solar and wind before these companies come out of the shadows….http://seekingalpha.com/article/4026366-nuclear-industry-challenged-solar-wind-winning-low-carbon-competition

November 28, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment

Pilgrim Nuclear Station – a disturbing example of America’s radioactive trash crisis

stranded“…….the slow and expensive process of transferring some of the older, colder fuel rods—no longer potent enough to efficiently power the reactor, but still hazardous for millennia—into dry casks. The concrete-and-steel canisters, eighteen feet tall and weighing a hundred and eighty tons, have now begun to line up on Pilgrim’s concrete pad, a football field’s length from the Bay. Many in the scientific and activist communities see dry-cask storage as preferable to pools, but the fear among those in Plymouth and surrounding towns is that the casks will become a permanent fixture on the Cape. As John Mahoney, a town selectman in Plymouth, told us, “They’re going to stand on a concrete pad overlooking Massachusetts Bay for centuries, just like those statues on Easter Island.”…

the spent fuel would be moved from plants in thirty states to a handful of regional, aboveground storage facilities—what Kevin Kamps, a waste specialist at the watchdog Beyond Nuclear, has called “parking-lot dumps.” There the waste would sit, on concrete pads similar to the one at Pilgrim, for twenty, forty, maybe even a hundred years, until the federal government finds a more permanent scheme.

radiation-truckDry casks must be hauled on heavy, slow-moving trucks, or on freight trains, which at times pass through densely populated parts of the country. Moving the casks once is arduous and expensive enough, but the D.O.E.’s proposed solution—bringing them to a temporary way station, then to a final resting place—requires doing it at least twice. “Interim storage is, in my mind, a waste of time, money, and resources,” Gregory Jaczko, a physicist and former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told us.

terroristIn the meantime, the casks are stacking up, vulnerable not only to the powerful storms and rising seas that come with climate change but also to deliberate attack. A terrorist group could sabotage the plant’s power supply or cooling system, mount a direct assault on its personnel, fire a rocket

PILGRIM’S PROGRESS: INSIDE THE AMERICAN NUCLEAR-WASTE CRISIS, New Yorker, By  and NOVEMBER 25, 2016, “…..Pilgrim is one of the worst-rated nuclear facilities in the United States. Ever since it generated its first kilowatt of electricity, in December of 1972, it has been beset with mechanical failures and lapses in safety. In a single four-week stretch this summer, the plant was offline for a total of fifteen days because of a malfunctioning steam-isolation valve, elevated water levels in the reactor, and other problems. For years, Pilgrim’s detractors have kept steady pressure on Entergy and state officials through local protests, a sit-in at the governor’s office, and legal action. Last October, in a partial victory for activists, the company announced plans to shutter the plant, citing the expense of keeping it running in the face of cheap, abundant natural gas and increasingly competitive “renewable-energy resources.” The reactor is scheduled to go dark on May 31, 2019.

In the past two years, Entergy has started the slow and expensive process of transferring some of the older, colder fuel rods—no longer potent enough to efficiently power the reactor, but still hazardous for millennia—into dry casks. The concrete-and-steel canisters, eighteen feet tall and weighing a hundred and eighty tons, have now begun to line up on Pilgrim’s concrete pad, a football field’s length from the Bay. Many in the scientific and activist communities see dry-cask storage as preferable to pools, but the fear among those in Plymouth and surrounding towns is that the casks will become a permanent fixture on the Cape. As John Mahoney, a town selectman in Plymouth, told us, “They’re going to stand on a concrete pad overlooking Massachusetts Bay for centuries, just like those statues on Easter Island.”…

With waste still piling up at Pilgrim and sixty-some sites across the country, the federal government has been forced to pay the nuclear industry hundreds of millions of dollars each year for breach of contract—money that plant operators are not specifically required to spend on storage. “We are really much, much further behind than we were in 1983,” Arjun Makhijani, a nuclear engineer and the president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, said……

The Department of Energy, the agency with ultimate responsibility for the nation’s roughly seventy thousand tons of nuclear waste, has a plan—or, at least, a plan for a plan.  This spring and summer, the D.O.E. held forums in cities across the country, including Boston, to discuss a “consent-based siting initiative.” This initiative—not the identification of places to put the waste, per se, but a framework for gaining buy-in from a mistrustful public—could result in any number of storage scenarios. “We’re trying to continue making progress toward the development of what we call an integrated waste-management system,” John Kotek, the acting assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, told us.

One option is consolidated interim storage. Under this plan, the spent fuel would be moved from plants in thirty states to a handful of regional, aboveground storage facilities—what Kevin Kamps, a waste specialist at the watchdog Beyond Nuclear, has called “parking-lot dumps.” There the waste would sit, on concrete pads similar to the one at Pilgrim, for twenty, forty, maybe even a hundred years, until the federal government finds a more permanent scheme. The D.O.E. sees this interim plan as a way to relieve communities like Plymouth of their waste burden (and the U.S. government of its payouts to the industry). But critics offer a weighty list of objections, chief among them that removing the waste from one community’s back yard requires putting it in another’s, creating more contaminated sites requiring future cleanup. The D.O.E. expects that some communities will step up and take the waste on anyway, but many people at this summer’s forums accused the agency of using public consent as a substitute for scientific and regulatory rigor.

Once sites are identified, then there’s the problem of transportation. Dry casks must be hauled on heavy, slow-moving trucks, or on freight trains, which at times pass through densely populated parts of the country. Moving the casks once is arduous and expensive enough, but the D.O.E.’s proposed solution—bringing them to a temporary way station, then to a final resting place—requires doing it at least twice. “Interim storage is, in my mind, a waste of time, money, and resources,” Gregory Jaczko, a physicist and former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told us. Diane Turco, who retired early from her job as a special-education teacher to devote more time to the Cape Downwinders—she is now the organization’s president—doubts that the government could make the plan happen anyway. “We think it’s just a big show to placate the public,” she said. “We don’t see it going anywhere.” Some local officials and residents, recognizing that progress is liable to be slow, have asked the government to compensate them for serving as a de-facto nuclear dump.

In the meantime, the casks are stacking up, vulnerable not only to the powerful storms and rising seas that come with climate change but also to deliberate attack. A terrorist group could sabotage the plant’s power supply or cooling system, mount a direct assault on its personnel, fire a rocket from the Bay, or launch a suicide attack from the air—not such a difficult proposition, as Rifkin’s helicopter experiment proved. ….

a radioactive sword of Damocles, to a federal government legally obligated to solve America’s ever-growing nuclear-waste crisis. “If we don’t do something,” Allison Macfarlane, the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 2012 to 2014, said, “if we don’t have a plan, there’s a one-hundred-per-cent guarantee that this stuff gets into the environment.” ….http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/pilgrims-progress-inside-the-american-nuclear-waste-crisis

November 28, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

World anxiety at Donald Trump in charge of the nuclear weapons codes

TrumpDonald Trump will soon learn the nuclear codes. What will he do with them?, The Age, 27 Nov 16 

Tim Johnson  “……By all accounts, the nuclear briefings a president-elect receives before inauguration are both complex in detailing procedures for a nuclear launch and awe-inspiring in explaining the physical consequences of selecting a target, launching an attack and girding for the fallout.
“These are the aspects that reportedly left President Kennedy ashen-faced,” said Peter D. Feaver, a security and conflict expert at Duke University, who worked on the National Security Council under the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.

Those familiar with the nuclear briefings say they demand a sharp focus……..

Mr Trump will learn how a launch order would “send key people to underground bunkers,” Mr Crowley said. “That’s a critical dimension of this. Even for the Strategic Command out in Nebraska, this would send an airborne command up in the air.”

The black satchel operates with a dual key system, and part of the system is for the president to take a card from his pocket to input the correct codes.

“The card itself is critical to begin the process that activates the system,” Mr Panetta said.

While the system is designed with overlapping triggers that ensure that nuclear weapons are not launched by mistake, it is also designed for a president to make a snap decision.

“It’s a very short period of time, measured in minutes,” Mr Feaver said.

After Barack Obama received his nuclear briefings, he laid out a vision of “a world without nuclear weapons.”

“If we believe that the spread of nuclear weapons is inevitable, then in some way we are admitting to ourselves that the use of nuclear weapons is inevitable,” Mr Obama said in Prague in April 2009, promising to make nuclear nonproliferation a top priority.

In theory, no one stands in the way of the commander in chief and a nuclear launch……..

Some voice concern about what they see as Mr Trump’s imprudence.

“He seems to be quite impulsive. He sends off tweets in the middle of the night,” said Ira Helfand, co-president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, an anti-nuclear advocacy group. “You can’t backtrack a nuclear weapon once it’s been fired.”

During the campaign, Mr Trump offered many points of view, saying limited proliferation was inevitable, nuclear war would be horrific and that the United States should always leave nuclear use as a possibility.

“I don’t think you could predict with confidence where he is going to come down on a question like this,” said Mr Feaver, the Duke University expert……. Whether those proliferation issues are addressed in further briefings for Mr Trump will depend largely on his level of interest, experts said…. http://www.theage.com.au/world/donald-trump-will-soon-learn-the-nuclear-codes-what-will-he-do-with-them-20161126-gsyc1e.html

November 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Marshall Islands, ,nuclear bombed decades ago, still afflicted by American bombing today

Bikini-Atoll-bombBikini was just the beginning, bombs still threaten the islanders, New Internationalist DECEMBER 2016  John Pilger visits the Marshall Islands and its bomb survivors, still blighted by US nuclear weapons. “……..The explosion vaporized an entire island, its fall-out spreading over a vast area. There was a ‘miscalculation’, according to the official history; the wind ‘changed suddenly’. These were the first of many lies, as declassified documents and the victims’ testimony have since revealed.

Gene Curbow, a meteorologist assigned to monitor the test site, said, ‘They knew where the radioactive fall-out was going to go. Even on the day of the shot, they still had an opportunity to evacuate people, but [people] were not evacuated; I was not evacuated… The United States needed some guinea pigs to study what the effects of radiation would do.’

The secret of the Marshall Islands was Project 4.1. Official files describe a scientific programme that began as a study of mice and became a study of human beings exposed to the radiation of a nuclear weapon. Most of the women I interviewed had suffered from thyroid cancer; many in their communities did not survive.

The US Navy returned the population of Rongelap atoll, which is downwind of Bikini, even though the food was unsafe to eat and the water unsafe to drink. As a result, reported Greenpeace – which eventually sent a ship to rescue them – ‘a high proportion of their children suffered from genetic effects’.

Archive film refers to them as ‘amenable savages’. A US Atomic Energy Agency official boasts that Rongelap is ‘by far the most contaminated place on earth’, adding, ‘It will be interesting to get a measure of human uptake when people live in a contaminated environment.’

Holding a photograph of herself as a child, with terrible facial burns and most of her hair missing, Nerje Joseph told me, ‘We were bathing at the well. White dust started falling from the sky. I reached to catch the powder. We used it as soap to wash our hair. A few days later, my hair started falling out.’

Lemoyo Abon said, ‘Some people were in agony. Others had diarrhoea. We were terrified. We thought it must be the end of the world.’

Human radiation experiments

As a nine-year-old, Tony de Brum witnessed the Bravo bomb. He became foreign minister of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, an indefatigable voice demanding justice for his people. Clutching the evidence, he stood up at the United Nations in 2005 and said, ‘United States government documents clearly demonstrate that its scientists conducted human radiation experiments with Marshallese citizens. Some of our people were injected with or were coerced to drink fluids laced with radiation. Other experiments involved the resettling of people on islands highly contaminated to study how human beings absorbed radiation from the food and environment.’

The Marshall Islands were, until 1986, a Trust Territory administered by the United States with a legal obligation to ‘protect the inhabitants against the loss of their land and resources’ and to ‘protect their health and well-being’. In 2004, the US Cancer Institute reported to Congress that future Marshallese generations were likely to contract 530 cancers.

The US relinquished direct control of the islands only after the Marshallese had agreed to accept a mere $150 million as compensation for their suffering and to allow the huge US base on Kwajalein atoll, with its ‘mission to combat communist China’ and known as the Ronald Reagan Missile Test Facility.

Commanding the Pacific all the way to Asia and China, the base continues to subject the islanders to the testing of weapons of mass destruction. Missiles are launched at night, or fired into the lagoon from California. Following each ‘shot’, islanders fall sick with a ‘mystery illness’. The Environmental Protection Agency says fish in the bay cannot be eaten; fish was once the staple. The cost of firing one missile is $100 million, or two-thirds of the compensation paid to the islanders……..

In 2014, President Obama announced that the US was ‘creating the world’s largest marine reserve in the Pacific, banning fishing and other commercial activities across pristine sea dotted with coral atolls’.

In fact, as part of Obama’s military build-up in the Pacific, known as the ‘pivot to Asia’, the US has taken control of nine million square miles of ocean – an area double the size of the mainland United States. Under cover of a marine reserve, a ‘marine range complex’ will be run by the Pentagon, with torpedoes, underwater mines and numerous other detonations. Bikini was just the beginning. https://newint.org/features/2016/12/01/bikini-was-just-the-beginning/

November 28, 2016 Posted by | OCEANIA, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Dangerous history of Chernobyl’s shattered nuclear power plant, and the latest effort to contain radiation

Giant new dome set to keep Chernobyl safe for generations http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/27/world/giant-new-dome-set-keep-chernobyl-safe-generations/#.WDtMp9J97Gh
AFP-JIJI  NOV 27, 2016  CHERNOBYL, UKRAINE – The world’s largest metal moveable structure will be unveiled Tuesday over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant’s doomed fourth reactor in Ukraine to ensure the safety of future generations across Europe.  
The giant arch — nearly as long as two soccer fields and taller than New York’s Statue of Liberty — will edge into place over an existing crumbling dome that the Soviets constructed in haste when disaster struck three decades ago on April 26.

Chernobyl-tomb-14

 Radioactive fallout from the site of the world’s worst civil nuclear accident contaminated Ukraine and spread across three-quarters of Europe.

Work on the previous safety dome began after a 10-day fire caused by the explosion was contained but as radiation still spewed. “It was done through the superhuman efforts of thousands of ordinary people,” the Chernobyl museum’s deputy chief Anna Korolevska said. “What kind of protective gear could they have possibly had? They worked in regular construction clothes.”

About 30 of the cleanup workers known as liquidators were killed on site or died from overwhelming radiation poisoning in the following weeks. The toll from the accident caused by errors during an experimental safety check remains under dispute because the Soviet authorities did their best to cover up the tragedy.

Kiev held a May Day parade as invisible contamination spread over the city while then-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev only admitted on May 14 that something had gone terribly wrong.

A United Nations estimate in 2005 said around 4,000 people had either been killed or were left dying from cancer and other related disease. But the Greenpeace environmental protection group believes the figure may be closer to 100,000. The authorities maintain a 30-kilometer-wide (19-mile-wide) exclusion zone around the plant in which only a few dozen elderly people live.

Concerns over the safety of the disintegrating concrete shelter — built by 90,000 people in just 206 days — prompted the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to spearhead a 2.1-billion-euro ($2.2 billion) project to install a new safety dome.

The numerous problems with the Soviet-era solution included the fact that the protective structure only had a 30-year lifespan. Yet its deterioration began much sooner than that. “Radioactive dust inside the structure is being blown out through the cracks,” Sergiy Paskevych of Ukraine’s Institute of Nuclear Power Plant Safety Problems said.

Paskevych added that the existing structure could crumble under extreme weather.“This would especially be a potential problem if there was a tornado or an earthquake,” Paskevych said.

The new arch should be able to withstand tremors of 6.0 magnitude — a strength rarely seen in eastern Europe — and tornados the likes of which strike the region once every million years.

Chernobyl’s dangers are real but Kiev complains Europe’s help took a long time coming. The EBRD found 40 state sponsors to fund a competition in 2007 to choose who should build a moveable dome the likes of which the world had never seen. A French consortium of two companies known as Novarka finished the designs in 2010 and began construction two years later.

The shelter was edged toward the fourth reactor in just under three weeks of delicate work this month that was interrupted by inclement weather and other potential dangers. It will later be fitted with radiation control equipment as well as air vents and fire protective measures.

That equipment inside the arch is due to start working by the end of 2017.

“And only then will we begin to disassemble the old, unstable structure,” the head of Ukraine’s State Nuclear Regulation Inspections agency Sergiy Bozhko said.

But he said no time frame had yet been set for the truly hazardous work of removing all the remaining nuclear fuel from inside the plant or taking apart the old dome. “Those decisions will be made based on future studies,” Bozhko said.

Novarka believes that its arch will keep the continent safe from nuclear fallout for the next 100 years.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

UN General Assembly climate meetings ignored the oceans – the primary drivers of climate.

ocean-heatingThe Big Blue Elephant in the Room, A Medium Corporation Dr. Sylvia A. Earle & John Bridgelan, 26 Nov 16 

Although the recent UN General Assembly meetings in New York City included the largest gathering of world leaders ever to address climate change, the largest factor in our climate cycle was missing from the discussions — the ocean.

Disregard for the ocean as the primary driver of climate and weather might be forgiven 50 years ago, but now we know: the living ocean governs planetary chemistry; regulates temperature; generates most of the oxygen in the sea and atmosphere; powers the water, carbon, and nitrogen cycles; and holds 97 percent of Earth’s water and 97 percent of the biosphere. Quite simply, no ocean, no life. No blue, no green. If not for the ocean, there would be no climate to discuss or anyone around to debate the issues……

Whatever the rationale, it is not rational that Earth’s dominant feature is not sufficiently addressed in important policy discussions about energy, the environment, economy, health, and security. It is especially perplexing that the ocean is getting short shrift in the current climate policy discussions.

Much attention is given to the impact of burning of fossil fuels on accelerated warming, inundated shorelines, and adaptation strategies for where and how people will live in the future. Far less note is being accorded to the changes in ocean chemistry as excess carbon dioxide absorbed by the ocean is increasing the acidity of the water. This is why it is so important to have Years of Living Dangerously helping to document the climate change impacts in our oceans and sharing it with the public. In Episode 5, Joshua Jackson travels to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef to look at the devastating impacts of ocean warming on the world’s largest reef system, and he explores the predicted impact of ocean acidification. In the Philippines, he looks at the impact of climate change in a place where hundreds of millions of people rely on healthy reefs for food, income and protection from storms……..https://medium.com/@yearsoflivingdangerously/the-big-blue-elephant-in-the-room-29d1a0c5f423#.p6e58alfv

November 28, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

Russia kept secret about an explosion at a nuclear power plant

 https://realrussiatoday.com/2016/11/22/explosion-at-nuclear-power-station-in-russia/6th reactor building of the Novovoronezh nuclear power plant, that was built based on an experimental reactor VVER-1200, could only work a few weeks at full capacity until an accident occurred.

Locals reported a powerful explosion at the nuclear power plant, reports Russian ecological media Bellona.ru.

At the same time, Russian state-owned media traditionally kept extremely silent regarding the details of the incident. In particular, news agency RIA Novosti reported that “the 6th power unit of Novovoronezh nuclear power plant was disconnected from the grid due to failure of the power generator.” Meanwhile, independent environmental organizations found out that the problem is actually much more serious.

“Turning off the 6th unit at the night of November 10 was preceded by an explosion that smashed the turbine hall,” writes the local media “Notebook Voronezh”, citing eyewitness of the accident. “Alarm systems in all vehicles in the area were screaming for at least 15 minutes. The generator in the turbine hall of the 6th unit burned down beyond repair. Also, a transformer blown, and all electrics burned. A state commission is working at the station, the situation is an emergency.”

Employees of Novovoronezh NPP deny the information about an explosion. They say that a loud sound was caused by a fault trip.

“During the power test, an electrical generator failure occurred, which led to the shutdown of the power grid,” told a representative of Novovoronezh NPP administration on a condition of anonymity. “When you disconnect a power generator and a turbine, a system triggers that prevents building up pressure of the steam over the limit. The loud sound was caused by a rapid opening of valves.”

Source: rusjev.net

November 28, 2016 Posted by | incidents, Russia | Leave a comment

Swiss reject hasty exit from nuclear power, but not by a huge vote

Swiss reject plan to speed up exit from nuclear energy  Herald Courier, Associated Press |BERLIN (AP) , 27 Nov 16, — Swiss voters rejected a plan to accelerate the country’s exit from nuclear energy in a referendum Sunday, turning down an initiative that would have forced their government to shut the last plant in 2029.

The plan promoted by the Green party would have meant closing three of Switzerland’s five nuclear plants next year. Polls ahead of the referendum had shown a tight race, but voters shot down the initiative by 54.2 percent to 45.8 percent.

Under Switzerland’s direct democracy system, proposals need support from both a majority of the country’s cantons (states) and of the national vote to pass. Only six of Switzerland’s 26 states backed the nuclear shutdown plan.

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, the Swiss government adopted a gradualist approach toward transitioning the country to renewable energy by 2050.

It said nuclear plants should continue to operate as long as they are deemed safe, but didn’t set a precise timetable. The government said it needs time to switch to other sources such as wind, solar and biomass energy.

If successful, the initiative would have limited the lifespan of nuclear plants to 45 years and meant the closure next year of the Beznau 1, Beznau 2 and Muehleberg reactors. The newest of the plants, in Leibstadt near the German border, started operating in 1984 and would have had to close in 2029.

The nuclear plants currently generate around a third of Switzerland’s electricity.

“We would have liked to win, that’s clear, but 45 percent for ‘yes’ is a good result,” Regula Rytz, the Greens’ chairwoman, told SRF television. Her party isn’t part of Switzerland’s broad coalition government.

“The problems haven’t been resolved with this referendum Sunday,” Rytz said. “We will keep at it on safety, on financial security … and on expanding renewable energies.”….

The referendum result “is a disappointment for all who had hoped for clarity on when the last nuclear power station in Switzerland will go offline,” Rita Schwarzeluehr-Sutter, a deputy German environment minister, said.

Nuclear power is “an outdated model in Switzerland, too,” she said, adding that the country has some of the world’s oldest reactors and “their days are numbered anyway.” http://www.heraldcourier.com/news/swiss-cast-ballots-on-referendum-on-nuclear-energy/article_92960829-a9d6-57a4-9cce-031054b7ab3a.html

November 28, 2016 Posted by | politics, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Restart of Kansai’s aging nuclear reactors causes anxiety, with recent Fukushima quake after-shocks

safety-symbol-SmFukushima aftershock renews public concern about restarting Kansai’s aging nuclear reactors http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/27/national/fukushima-aftershock-renews-public-concern-restarting-kansais-aging-nuclear-reactors/#.WDs4zdJ97Gg  BY   STAFF WRITER  The magnitude-7.4 aftershock that rocked Fukushima Prefecture and its vicinity last week, more than five years after the mega-quake and tsunami of March 2011, triggered fresh nuclear concerns in the Kansai region, which hosts Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama plant in Fukui Prefecture.

The aftershock came as the Nuclear Regulation Authority approved a two-decade extension for Mihama’s No. 3 reactor on Nov. 16, allowing it and two others that have already been approved to run for as long as 60 years to provide electricity to the Kansai region.

Residents need to live with the fact that they are close to the Fukui reactors, which are at least 40 years old. Despite reassurances by Kepco, its operator, and the nuclear watchdog, worries remain over what would happen if an earthquake similar to the one in 2011, or even last week, hit the Kansai region.

Kyoto lies about 60 km and Osaka about 110 km from the old Fukui plants. Lake Biwa, which provides water to about 13 million people, is less than 60 km away.

In addition to Kepco’s 40-year-old Mihama No. 3, reactors 1 and 2 at the Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui are 42 and 41 years old, respectively.

In the event of an accident, evacuation procedures for about 253,000 residents of Fukui, Shiga, and Kyoto prefectures who are within 30 km of the plants would go into effect.

But how effective might they be?

The majority does not live in Fukui. Just over half, or 128,500, live in neighboring Kyoto, especially in and around the port city of Maizuru, home to a Self-Defense Forces base. Another 67,000 live in four towns in Fukui and about 58,000 live in northern Shiga Prefecture.

Plans call for Fukui and Kyoto prefecture residents to evacuate to 29 cities and 12 towns in Hyogo Prefecture and, if facilities there are overwhelmed, to Tokushima Prefecture in Shikoku. Those in Shiga are supposed to evacuate to cities and towns in Osaka Prefecture.

In a scenario put together by Kyoto Prefecture three years ago, it was predicted that tens of thousands of people would take to available roads in the event of an nuclear accident. A 100 percent evacuation of everyone within 30 km of a stricken Fukui plant was estimated to take between 15 and 29 hours, depending on how much damage there was to the transportation infrastructure.

But Kansai-based anti-nuclear activists have criticized local evacuation plans as being unrealistic for several reasons.

First, they note that the region around the plants gets a lot of snow in the winter, which could render roads, even if still intact after a quake or other disaster, much more difficult to navigate, slowing evacuations even further.

Second is the radiation screening process that has been announced in official local plans drawn up by Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures.

While automobiles would be stopped at various checkpoints along the roads leading out of Fukui and given radiation tests, those inside would not be tested if the vehicle itself has radiation levels below the standard.

If the radiation is above standard, one person, a “representative” of everyone in the car, would be checked and, if approved, the car would be allowed to continue on its way under the assumption that the others had also been exposed to levels below standard. This policy stands even if those levels might be more dangerous to children than adults.

Finally, there is the question of whether bus drivers would cooperate by going in and out of radioactive zones to help those who lack quick access to a car, especially senior citizens in need of assistance.

None of the concerns about the evacuation plans is new, and most have been pointed out by safety experts, medical professionals and anti-nuclear groups.

But with the NRA having approved restarts for three Kansai-area reactors that are over 40 years old, Kansai leaders are responding more cautiously to efforts to restart Mihama No. 3 in particular.

“It is absolutely crucial that local understanding for Mihama’s restart be obtained,” said pro-nuclear Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa in July, after a local newspaper survey showed that only about 37 percent of Fukui residents agree with the decision to restart old reactors.

Shiga Gov. Taizo Mikazuki, who is generally against nuclear power, was even more critical of the NRA’s decision to restart Mihama.

“There are major doubts about the law that regulates the use of nuclear reactors more than 40 years old. The central government and Kepco need to explain safety countermeasures to residents who are uneasy. People are extremely uneasy about continuing to run old reactors,” the governor said earlier this month.

November 28, 2016 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

John Pilger’s new documentary, The Coming War on China

FilmJohn Pilger’s documentary, The Coming War on China, is in cinemas in the UK from 1 December, beginning at the BFI on London’s Southbank. On 5 December, Picturehouse cinemas will hold a nationwide with John Pilger. The website is picturehouses.com. On 6 December, ITV will broadcast the film and a DVD will be available the same day. The Australian release is early in 2017; SBS Australia will broadcast the film nationwide.

For worldwide distribution enquiries, contact Dartmouth Films:christo@dartmouthfilms.com. The film’s website address is thecomingwarmovie.com

November 28, 2016 Posted by | weapons and war | Leave a comment