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Taro Yamamoto Defends Fukushima Victims’ Rights

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Taro Yamamoto of the Liberal Party is a member of the Chamber of Deputies. He is one of the few parliamentary members defending the rights of victims of the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster.
The Association Nos Voisins Lointains 3-11 translated the questions of Taro Yamamoto to the Chamber of Deputies’ Special Commission on Reconstruction on 18 November 2016*. The content of his questions reveals the inhuman situation faced by the victims in the framework of the Japanese government’s return policy .

 

Taro Yamamoto’s questions (video in Japanese)

 

Taro Yamamoto
Thank you. I am Taro Yamamoto from the Liberal Party. I would like to ask questions as the representative of a parliamentary group.

Declared on 11 March 2011, the state of nuclear emergency has not yet been lifted to date, 5 years and 8 months after the accident at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Today, I will address a subject that is well known by the members here present.

I will start with the subject of the radioactivity controlled area. This is a demarcated area frequented by workers with professional knowledge who are exposed to the risks associated with ionizing radiation, such as an X-ray room, a research laboratory, a nuclear power plant and so on.

Here is my question. There are rules that apply to controlled areas of radioactivity, are not they? Can we eat and drink in such a controlled area?

Government expert (Seiji Tanaka)
Here is the answer. According to the Ordinance on the Prevention of Risks from Ionizing Radiation**, eating and drinking are prohibited in workplaces where there is a risk of ingesting radioactive substances orally.

Taro Yamamoto
Of course, it is forbidden to drink or eat there. So it’s obvious that it’s not possible to spend the night there, is it? Even adults cannot stay for more than 10 hours.

You are well aware of the existence of this Ordinance. This is a rule that must be respected in order to protect workers exposed to risks related to ionizing radiation in establishments such as hospitals, research laboratories and nuclear power plants, isn’t it?

It contains the definition of a radioactivity controlled area. This is Article 3 of the Ordinance in File No. 1. It states that if the situation corresponds to the definition described in Article 3/1 or to that specified in Article 3/2, the zone shall be considered as a controlled area and a sign shall be posted there. I will read parts 1 and 2 of this article.

1: The area in which the total effective dose due to external radiation and that due to radioactive substances in the air is likely to exceed 1.3mSv per quarter – over a period of three months! When the dose reaches 1.3mSv over a period of three months, a zone is called “controlled radioactivity zone”.

Part 3/2 refers to the surface density in the attached table.
Here is File No. 2. What will it be if we do the conversion of the density of the surface per m2?

Government expert (Seiji Tanaka)

The conversion gives 40,000Bq/m2

Taro Yamamoto
Thus, with 40 000Bq / m2, the zone is classified as a “controlled zone of radioactivity”. It is therefore necessary to monitor not only radioactivity in the air but also the surface contamination, ie the ground dose of radioactive substances, ie other elements in the environment, and to manage the area in order to protect workers from radiation-related risks, isn’t it?

A radioactivity controlled area is defined both by the dose rate of the ambient radioactivity and by the surface density of the radioactive substances. The point is that the risk in a situation where the radioactive substances are dispersed is quite different from that in the situation where the radiation sources are well identified and managed.

At present, the evacuation order applied to the evacuation zones following the nuclear power plant accident is lifted when the ambient radioactivity dose rate becomes less than 20mSv / year.

Here is my question. Concerning contamination, apart from the dose rate of ambient radioactivity, are there any conditions to take into account in order to lift the evacuation order? Please answer yes or no.

Government expert (Takeo Hoshino)
Here is the answer.
Concerning the conditions necessary for the lifting of the evacuation order, as far as the radioactivity measurements are concerned, it is only the certainty that the annual cumulative dose rate of ambient radioactivity is less than 20 mSv.

Taro Yamamoto
You did not understand. I asked you to answer yes or no. Are there any other conditions other than the dose rate of ambient radioactivity? To lift the order of evacuation below 20mSv / year, what are the conditions regarding the contamination?

The fact is that regarding contamination, there are no other conditions than the dose rate of the radioactivity in the air. This is abnormal. You, who belong to this Commission, certainly understand to what extent this situation is abnormal.

In the definition of a radioactivity controlled zone, apart from the dose rate of radioactivity in the air, account is taken of the substances dispersed and then deposited, that is to say contamination in the soil etc., which means a criterion of 40 000Bq / m2 is established for surface contamination.

However, in the return policy to return populations to territories where the annual cumulative dose rate is less than 20mSv / year, the condition of soil contamination is not considered necessary.

The latter is not an evaluation criterion, the only criterion used is the dose rate of the ambient radioactivity. Politicians and officials who consider this to be a regular situation do not deserve to receive wages paid from tax revenues.

Our job is to protect the life and property of the people. Now, you lighten those conditions. You create, at your discretion, a rule that is less stringent than that applied to workers with a professional knowledge of radioactivity. What are you doing !

Following the Chernobyl accident, laws have been established in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, measuring both the dose rate of radioactivity in the air and the contamination of the soil. Why ?

That goes without saying. This is because it is difficult to grasp the amount of irradiation suffered by the population only with measurements of ambient radioactivity. In Ukraine, with 5mSv / yr, a measure corresponding to that of the controlled radioactivity zone, the population is evacuated, and even with 1mSv / year which corresponds to the limit of the average dose rate for the public, ‘they have the right to move out. This law known as the Chernobyl law is still in force.

On the other hand, what is the situation in Japan? According to the Cabinet decision of June 2015, the evacuation order is lifted if the dose rate in the air is less than 20mSv / year. There is no problem ! For example, if you stay 24 hours in a controlled area of radioactivity, you are exposed to a dose of 5.2mSv / year.

However, the criterion for the lifting of the order and the return of the population is 20mSv / year or less. The zoning is determined by a dose 4 times that of a controlled zone of radioactivity.

Go back, live there, continue your life, rebuild, what is this! I can find no other expression than “completely twisted”.

Can we still call it the State? I think it’s better to call it the mafia. It’s so inhuman!

The government appears to have adopted dose limits of 20 to 100mSv as recommended by the ICRP*** on radiation exposure limits after an accident. However, when considering the health effects on the population, the most reasonable would be to adopt 1mSv, the lowest dose measurement for radiation limit for public health, according to the global consensus.

The right to evacuate must be granted to the population until the dose rate falls below 1mSv / year. The right to decide when to return belongs to the victims. Why do you determine zoning as you wish? The State must make every effort to reduce the dose as close as possible to 1mSv / year, maximum dose in a normal situation. Then the State, the administration should warn the people, and let them make their own decisions. That would be the fairest way. The State should behave like this.

Who is responsible for this accident? It is TEPCO. Who supported it? It is the State. It is clear who the perpetrators of the crime are. And yet, only the charges of the criminals are being relieved. If it is permissible to develop zoning and associated rights to the convenience of the criminals, this world is a hell then.

In the town of Minamisoma in the coastal region of Fukushima Prefecture, three types of evacuation zone were established after the earthquake. In July 2016, the evacuation order was lifted in the “evacuation order lifting preparation area” and in the “restriction of housing” area. There is only one home with two people remaining in the “area where the return is difficult”.

According to the State, 90% of the territories of Minamisoma are safe.

There is a group called “The Measurement of Environmental Radioactivity Around the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant”**** composed mainly of residents of Minamisoma. Since 2012, its members are taking measurements of soil contamination in the vicinity of the neighborhoods of the members and in residential areas. They provided the information. Please look at File No. 3. You see a colored map ( Note from the translator: see the map here, https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/2016/11/12/the-minamisoma-whistleblowers-fukushima/ )

This is the map of soil measurements collected and measured in the territories where the decontamination works have been completed. The colors show the levels of contamination. The blue colored area indicates where the contamination measurements are below 40 000Bq / m2, ie below than the level of a radioactivity controlled zone. There is only one, at the right bottom. Apart from this one, at all other places, the colors show corresponding measurements above the measurements of a controlled zone of radioactivity. There is even a colored place in gray where the measurements exceed 1 000 000Bq / m2. There are people living there!

Compared to the extraordinary ambient radioactivity dose rate observed immediately after the accident, the dose rate of radioactivity in the air decreased considerably. It is not the same order of magnitude. However, according to the inhabitants, even with 0.1μSv / hr of ambient radioactivity dose rate, soil measurements may still be equivalent to those of a radioactivity-controlled zone.

It is senseless that only the dose rate of ambient radioactivity should be taken into account as a condition for lifting the evacuation order. It is so irresponsible and neglectful. It is exactly the opposite of protecting the life and property of the people. People do not live floating in the air at 1 meter above the ground*****. They sit down, lie on the ground, they stop to chat, standing or sitting. Children do not play on asphalted roads only. They can venture into the bushes. Children play freely. There are some who put soil in their mouth. Remember how you were when you were still a child. Gutters where contamination is concentrated provide one of the favorite playgrounds for children.

Mr. Masuchika Kono, a member of the above-mentioned project group, who was with the Engineering Department of Kyoto University, a specialist in nuclear engineering, a graduate of radiation manipulation, collected soil at the Minamisoma Michi-no-eki roadside (service and parking area), and passed it through a sieve of about 100 microns.

The measurements showed 11 410Bq / kg of Cs. These dust rises with the winds and the passages of the vehicles. In daily life, dust is inhaled by the people. You do not take internal radiation into account, do you? You calculate the amount of internal radiation by applying just a coefficient, but do not include internal radiation in real life.

Some people self-evacuated from areas outside the evacuation areas under evacuation order, as they consider that the State policies do not protect the children, their lives. To these persons, within the framework of the Disaster Relief and Disaster Relief Act******, dwellings – “temporary accommodation”******* – were made available.

However, in March 2017, next year, the free housing provision will be suspended. You are telling them that there is no more problem; Why then stay evacuated? That’s it, isn’t it? Those displaced from areas outside evacuation areas under evacuation order fled because their home and living environment are contaminated as a result of the TEPCO nuclear accident.

However, since their homes are located at some distance from the nuclear power plant, they were not included in the evacuation zones that the state established unilaterally. As a result, these displaced persons receive no public support except the provision of free housing. And even this aid will stop in March 2017.

It’s incredible to stop helping them. Moreover, what does it mean to stop the provision of free housing in March? It is the season when mobility is at its highest in the year. You expel them, force them to relocate at the time of the year when rents and costs become more expensive! You have no compassion. You are ruthless!

Here are some testimonies:

“I am afraid of the investigators of the Tokyo Metropolitan Prefecture visiting door to door. I hide under the cover for fear of hearing the ringing at the door. When I opened the door, the investigator stuck his foot into the door so that I could not close it. With a loud voice so that all the neighbors could hear, he shouted at me “you know very well that you can only live here until March”. I know, but I cannot move. “

The next person. “The Tokyo Metropolitan Prefecture demands that we move out in a fierce and haughty manner. We had to leave our home because of the accident at the nuclear power plant. I do not understand why they are expelling us again. I gave in to the pressure, and I filled up the Tokyo Metropolitan Prefecture housing application, but it was against my will. Psychologically, I can not accept the fact, and it causes me pain. They are forcing me to move into a prefecture owned housing where no one from Fukushima lives close by. It’s like abandoning the elderly in a mountain. “

The following testimony. It is a home where just a mother and her young children live. The other members of the family remained in Fukushima. They lead a double life. “If there is no more free housing provided, there is no resource to pay the rent. The only dream left to my child is his piano lesson. Do not take away that dream. “

The next person. “The deadline has not arrived …”

(Note from the translator : Taro Yamamoto can no longer hold his tears) Who does something like that? I beg your pardon. Who orders such a thing? It may be admitted that the State would ask local governments to carry out polite negotiations with the displaced. No, it is nothing but expulsion. Does not the State intend to stop such a situation? I do not allow you to say that you did not know. You see the problem before you now!

“Constant phone calls, visits without notice, and they shout at me asking what my intention is. They send documents to file, and leave passing notices in the mailbox. I am completely exhausted, physically and psychologically. “ This is understandable. They continue to live like that since the explosions of the nuclear power plant, and 5 years and 8 months later they are tracked down in a similar situation. To what extent do you want to tear the hearts of the victims? It is enough for the State to take a decision. This person says that the metropolitan prefecture of Tokyo has asked him to leave the housing, because the prefecture must return that housing for civil servants in March. It is monstrous that the State asks the Tokyo Metropolitan Prefecture to evict the evacuees and restore the house in proper condition.

These were testimonies of displaced people.

According to my research, to date there are 9327 vacancies among the housings for civil servants in the region of Kanto, including the Tokyo Metropolitan Prefecture and 6 other prefectures. It is enough for the State to take a decision, it can solve the problem, at least partially. Why should the inhabitants be expelled? Is it because, if there are tenants, those buildings could not sold during the financial bubble of the Olympic Games? It’s too cruel.

On April 4 last year, according to the newspaper Mainichi shinbun, the state does not request reimbursement from TEPCO for the rents of dwellings “considered as temporary housings”. Commission member Iwabuchi mentioned earlier that the government will oblige TEPCO to pay for the costs of the decontamination work. Why don’t you ask TEPCO to pay the rents? These people are the victims!

Finally, I would like to ask to the Minister. I would like you to answer two questions.

1st: You said that this is what the Fukushima prefecture wants. However, you are in a position to make suggestions to the Fukushima Prefecture. Please talk it over again. This situation is really irregular.

2nd: Please listen to the voices of the displaced. I think you have almost no opportunity to hear the voices of self-evacuees coming from locations outside the evacuation areas. Until then, you were too busy. Perhaps the people around you got acquainted with their testimonies. Please listen to them yourself. Today, too, they are here. There’s a break after this session. Could you give them 5 minutes? If you give us just 5 minutes today during the break, you can talk with the self-evacuees.

I would ask you to answer these two questions.

Secretary of State (Masahiro Imamura)
As I have already said, I am willing to consult with the prefecture of Fukushima, and I would like to ensure that the people concerned are not hurt. I will see to its smooth progress.

You said that self-evacuated people are here. I also have a plenary session after and I do not have time, but I will listen to them.

President (Mitsuru Sakurai)
Mr. Yamamoto, you have exhausted your time.

Taro Yamamoto
Thank you.
Please keep your promise. Thank you very much.

Credits to Kurumi Sugita from the Nos Voisins Lointains 3.11 Association for the japanese to french translation (http://nosvoisins311.wixsite.com/voisins311-france)

French to english translation by Hervé Courtois (Dun renard) from the Fukushima 311 Watchdogs (https://dunrenard.wordpress.com/)

* Source : Site web de Taro Yamamoto

** Ordinance on Prevention of Ionizing Radiation Hazards, Ministry of Labour Ordinance No. 41 of September 30, 1972, Latest Amendments: Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare Ordinance No. 172 of July 16, 2001

*** International Commission on Radiological Protection

**** Fukuichi shûhen kankyôhôshasen monitoring project

***** The measurements of ambiant radioactivity are taken at 1 meter above the ground.

****** Saigai kyûjohô, Law of assistance in case of disaster , laws N°118 of octobre 18, 1947

******* Minashi kasetsu jyûtaku. Rental housing managed by private agencies inhabited by evacuees whose rent is borne by the central government or local governments.

 

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | 3 Comments

Global review of nuclear reactors, following news of cover-up of AREVA’s manufacturing flaws

secret-agent-Smareva-medusa1Coverup at French Nuclear Supplier Sparks Global Review Inspectors say Areva unit’s files suggest manufacturing flaws in critical parts were covered up for decades, WSJ,  By MATTHEW DALTON and INTI LANDAURO in Paris and REBECCA SMITH in San Francisco, Dec. 13, 2016

Inspectors from the U.S. and other countries are investigating a decadeslong coverup of manufacturing problems at a key supplier to the nuclear power industry, probing whether flaws introduced in a French factory represent a safety threat to reactors world-wide.

Inspectors from the U.S., China and four other nations visited ArevaSA’s Le Creusot Forge in central France earlier this month to examine the plant’s quality controls and comb through its internal records.

A string of discoveries triggered the newly expanded review: First, French investigators said they found steel components made at Le Creusot and used in nuclear-power plants across France had excess carbon levels, making them more vulnerable to rupture. Then, the investigators discovered files suggesting Le Creusot employees for decades had concealed manufacturing problems involving hundreds of components sold to customers around the world.

The disclosure of flaws covered up by Le Creusot led to two reactor shutdowns this summer in France, and in September authorities ordered Areva to check 6,000 manufacturing files by hand, covering every nuclear part made at Le Creusot since the 1960s.

“I’m concerned that there keep being more and more problems unveiled,” said Kerri Kavanagh, who leads the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s unit inspecting Le Creusot. Regulators are considering returning to Le Creusot or inspecting Areva’s Lynchburg, Va., offices to deepen their probe of the plant, a U.S. official said.

On Wednesday, Paris prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation into whether Le Creusot’s activities were fraudulent and dangerous, according to a spokeswoman for prosecutors.

“What we see now at Le Creusot is clearly unacceptable,” said Julien Collet, assistant general manager at France’s Nuclear Safety Authority.

Areva executives have acknowledged the records falsifications and blamed them on a breakdown of manufacturing controls spanning many decades at Le Creusot. Areva has since tightened its controls and is cooperating with the regulators’ reviews, company officials said…….

Beyond France, regulators are trying to determine whether other nuclear facilities that relied on components from Le Creusot are safe. Finnish inspectors visiting the forge last week said they learned of potential flaws in a component slated for a reactor in the southwestern island of Olkiluoto. In the U.S., the NRC has identified at least nine nuclear plants that use large components from Le Creusot……..

Last week’s inspection has turned up a concern with one of Areva’s next-generation reactors, the European Pressurized Reactor under construction in Finland, versions of which are also planned for plants in China, France and the U.K…….http://www.wsj.com/articles/problems-at-nuclear-components-supplier-spark-global-reviews-1481625005

December 14, 2016 Posted by | France, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

USA govt acknowledges the many cancers in its nuclear test veterans

text-from-the-archivesDISEASES ACKNOWLEDGED BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT TO BE CAUSED BY PARTICIPATION IN ATMOSPHERIC TESTING OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS, Paul Langley’s Nuclear History Blog, 2 Jan 2012

Leukaemia (other than chronic Iymphocytic leukaemia)

Cancer of the Thyroid

Cancer of the Breast

Cancer of the Pharynx

Cancer of the Oesophagus

Cancer of the Stomach

Cancer of the small intestine

Cancer of the Pancreas

Multiple Myeloma

Lymphomas (except Hodgkinís disease)

Cancer of the Bile Ducts

Cancer of the Gall Bladder

Cancer of the liver (except if cirrhosis or hepatitis indicated)

Cancer of the urinary tract, which also translates to the bladder and kidneys

Cancer of the salivary glands

Incorporated into public law 100-321, 20.5.88.

“This law gives US atomic exservicemen due recognition for the unusual service they rendered, and is an expression of gratitude of the American people toward their atomic veterans The law enables Veteran Affairs benefits to flow to US atomic veterans who are afflicted. The US government m relation to nuclear veterans considers the nature of service plus the development of any of the above diseases sufficient cause to quality for Veteran Benefits regardless of recorded dose rates received. All US nuclear test service personnel are officially Veterans.”   http://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2011/12/31/diseases-acknowledged-by-the-united-states-government-to-be-caused-by-participation-in-atmospheric-testing-of-nuclear-weapons/

December 14, 2016 Posted by | health, Reference, USA | 1 Comment

Switzerland concerned over possible abnormalities in AREVA-supplied nuclear reactor components

safety-symbol-Smflag-SwitzerlandTwo Swiss nuclear plants to be checked for irregularities, SwissInfo, 13 Dec 16The Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (IFSN) has confirmed that steam generators at the Beznau and Gösgen nuclear plants must be checked for possible anomalies.

In a statement on Tuesday, IFSN said it had asked the operators of the Beznau and Gösgen nuclear plants to check the quality of steel components used in the steam generators.

Plant operators must scrutinize documents relating to the components and report to IFSN by April. They should then carry out any physical checks on materials.

The news follows reports that the French nuclear safety authority (ASN) discovered in June that certain steam generator channel heads made by two different manufacturers – Areva’s Creusot plant and Japan Casting & Forging Corp (JCFC) – could contain a zone comprising a high carbon concentration. That could weaken the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks.

“This pushed us to check the steam generators at the Beznau and Gösgen plants,” said IFSN interim director, Georg Schwarz……http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/nuclear-power_two-swiss-nuclear-plants-to-be-checked-for-irregularities/42759794

December 14, 2016 Posted by | safety, Switzerland | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy should be classed as “renewable”- says Arizona utility regulator

Utility regulator wants nuclear energy to count as renewable, The Daily Progress,  PHOENIX (AP) 13 Dec 16 — Arizona’s utility regulator has suggested that nuclear energy should count as a renewable power source, allowing it to compete with solar and wind.

text-orwell-renewable

Environmental advocates don’t generally consider nuclear power plants renewable because the uranium that fuels them must be mined, reported The Arizona Republic (http://bit.ly/2hitoC0 ). Utility regulator Andy Tobin proposed the change in a letter that implies he never supported the Renewable Energy Standard the state passed in 2006, which didn’t include nuclear energy as a renewable source.

That legislation requires utilities like the Arizona Public Service Co. to get 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025. Currently, solar, wind and geothermal energy count toward that goal but nuclear does not. Arizona Corporation Commission chairman Doug Little proposed doubling that goal in August. He said that would put Arizona more in line with the goals of other western states…..http://www.dailyprogress.com/utility-regulator-wants-nuclear-energy-to-count-as-renewable/article_cb011e4f-ecf6-5bc2-9426-1e7b1638ae9d.html

December 14, 2016 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

German government negotiates successfully with nuclear companies over costs of wastes.

flag_germanyGermany Cuts Deal With Nuclear Power Companies Over Waste Costs  Government, companies seek to put ceiling on costs related to disposal of radioactive waste, WSJ,  By  ZEKE TURNER Dec. 12, 2016  BERLIN—The German government has cut a deal with the nuclear power companies operating in the country that would guarantee them a ceiling on costs related to radioactive waste, lawmakers said Monday.

negotiation

Germany’s E.ON SERWE AG, EnBW AG and Sweden’s Vattenfall AB already set aside about €17 billion ($18 billion) to finance the disposal of radioactive waste after the government moved to ban nuclear power five years ago.

Under Monday’s deal, they would pay an additional €6 billion into a public fund but be off the hook for any further payments if the cost of processing the radioactive material were to balloon out of control in the decades to come, as many experts fear.

 The companies have also agreed to drop some of the lawsuits they filed against the government after the nuclear ban……..The deal announced by lawmakers from the CDU, its coalition partner Social Democrats and the opposition Greens party is the latest round in a recent rapprochement between the nuclear energy industry and the government.

Following a debate and vote on Thursday morning in the Bundestag, the government will negotiate the details over the fund’s capitalization with the companies……..http://www.wsj.com/articles/germany-cuts-deal-with-nuclear-power-companies-over-waste-costs-1481567999

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Germany, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear worker convicted of terrorism conspiracy – had worked for 3 years while under investigation!

exclamation-Smflag-franceFrench Nuclear Plant Technician Continued Working While Under Investigation For Terrorism, BuzzFeed News, 14 Dec 16,  Paris Rida E. was put under investigation for suspected ties to terrorist groups in Syria, but that didn’t prevent him from working for several months at a nuclear power plant.

The 31-year-old technician, referred to in court proceedings as Rida E., was permitted to access nuclear plants for several months while he was being investigated by French authorities for suspected ties to terrorist groups in Syria. He was convicted on Dec. 7 of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism……https://www.buzzfeed.com/paulaveline/rida-e-employee-of-the-tricastin-and-devoted-def?utm_term=.xtWZDAWkLe#.fnNAdXYxOD

 

December 14, 2016 Posted by | France, incidents | Leave a comment

Winter in America – wildfires! In the Arctic – sea ice melting, not freezing

global-warming1As North Pole Melts in November, Wildfires Rage Across US Well Into Winter, 12 December 2016 By Dahr JamailTruthout | Report  “……..During a time when winter usually sets in and the Arctic sea ice freezes up, ice has been melting instead of freezing. Temperatures in late November were akin to what they normally are at the end of August.

It was Gaia sending yet another unmistakable message, and it was profound enough that Bob Henson with the WeatherUnderground said, “There are weather and climate records, and then there are truly exceptional events that leave all others in the dust. Such has been the case across Earth’s high latitudes during this last quarter of 2016.”

For perspective, add 36 degrees to whatever your weather is right now, wherever you are. How normal is that? Think about how plants and animals in your area would or wouldn’t adapt to that. What would happen to your food and water supply?

To give you another idea of how dramatically things have already changed in the Arctic as the region is in the midst of an ecological disintegration, Captain Cook’s records of the region from 1778 reveal a literally different world. His expedition was stopped from sailing north of the Bering Strait by “ice which was as compact as a Wall and seemed to be ten or twelve feet high at least,” according to the captain’s journal.

In continued attempts to sail further north, Cook’s ships followed this ice edge all the way to Siberia, but to no avail.

Meanwhile, back in the 21st century, longtime climate scientists are emphasizing that we’re currently seeing an unprecedented situation. Two days after it was revealed that temperatures at the North Pole were 36 degrees above normal, Walt Meier, a research scientist with the Cryospheric Sciences Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who has tracked sea ice data going back to 1979, announced, “It looks like, since the beginning of October, that for the first time we are seeing both the Arctic and Antarctic sea ice running at record low levels.”

According to a recent report by the World Meteorological Organization, Earth is now on track to hit 1.2 degrees Celsius hotter than preindustrial temperatures before the end of this year.

According to the recently released annual “Emissions Gap Report” from the UN’s Environmental Program (UNEP), current Paris Climate Agreement emissions cuts will still result in 3.5C of planetary warming by 2100. “Current commitments will reduce emissions by no more than a third of the levels required by 2030 to avert disaster,” two UNEP leaders warned in the report’s introduction.

Recently published research in a prestigious scientific journal shows that ACD is likely already progressing so rapidly that scientists are warning it could well already be “game over.” Because the research shows that Earth’s climate could be far more sensitive to greenhouse gases than previously believed, they are warning of a temperature rise that is on the “apocalyptic side of bad:” more than 7C within one lifetime from now.

Less importantly, but still shocking and useful to consider (especially since plenty of people seem to believe economics are more important than a habitable planet): Another recent report estimates that the world economy …… http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/38689-as-north-pole-melts-in-november-wildfires-rage-across-us-well-into-winter

December 14, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Donald Trump spurns scientific advice on climate change

Trump says ‘nobody really knows’ if climate change is real, WP,  December 11 President-elect Donald Trump said Sunday that “nobody really knows” whether climate change is real and that he is “studying” whether the United States should withdraw from the global warming agreement struck in Paris a year ago.

There is a broad scientific consensus that human activity — including the burning of fossil fuels for transportation, heating and industrial manufacturing — is driving recent climate change. In its most recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that it is “extremely likely” that, since the 1950s, humans and their greenhouse gas emissions have been the “dominant cause” of the planet’s warming trend. The top 10 hottest years on record have all been since 1998, and 2016 is expected to be the hottest year since formal record-keeping began in 1880.

But it’s not the first time that Trump has disregarded that established scientific view.

During the presidential campaign, Trump referred to climate change as a “hoax” perpetrated by the Chinese, a comment he later described as a joke. But during a town hall in New Hampshire, he also mocked the idea of global warming. …..https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2016/12/11/trump-says-nobody-really-knows-if-climate-change-is-real/?utm_term=.979247e98b71

December 14, 2016 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Earthlife Africa takes legal action to stop South Africa’s nuclear power plan

legal actionEarthlife Africa goes to court to halt SA’s bid for nuclear power http://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2016/12/13/earthlife-africa-goes-court-halt-sas-bid-nuclear-power/
In a David versus Goliath battle which could determine the country’s energy future‚ an NGO will be in the Cape Town High Court on Tuesday to try halt government’s nuclear procurement deal.

In an affidavit submitted to the court‚ Earthlife Africa argues that government’s agreement with Russia to supply South Africa with multiple nuclear power plants is both unlawful and unconstitutional.

The procurement deal would be the largest in the country’s history at an estimated R1-trillion‚ and would see the building of a “nuclear fleet” that would generate nearly 10GW of power.

In September 2014‚ Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed an agreement with Russia on strategic partnership and cooperation in the fields of nuclear power and industry‚ which was then authorised by President Jacob Zuma.

The agreement was tabled before Parliament in June 2015.

In the affidavit‚ Earthlife branch coordinator Phillipine Lekalakala stated that the deal was unlawful‚ and should be reviewed and set aside. “The decision to proceed with procuring these nuclear power plants… has occurred without any of the necessary statutory and constitutional decisions having been lawfully taken‚” said Lekalakala.

“The minister and the National Energy Regulator of SA were obligated to have determined that new generation capacity is required and that the electricity must be generated from nuclear power in terms of the Energy Regulations Act (ERA).”

“No ERA requirement decision or ERA nuclear procurement system decision has been taken.”

The state opposed the application saying that the nuclear programme was a policy direction adopted by government to establish a self-sufficient nuclear industry for the industrialisation and development of the country.

The deputy director-general of the Department of Energy‚ Zizamele Mbambo‚ said that‚ as part of the nuclear programme‚ the energy and electricity needs of the country would be provided for.

“This policy direction allows the country to discharge its international obligation to reduce CO2 emissions from our historical fleet of coal-driven power stations‚” Mbambo said.

Earthlife and co-applicants in the matter‚ Southern African Faith Ministries’ Environment Institute‚ will be holding a demonstration outside the court on Tuesday. – TMG Digital/The Times

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s renewable energy growing fast, despite Eskom’s efforts to scupper it

flag-S.AfricaIn South Africa, Nuclear Energy Is Becoming A Dirty Word  Forbes, Nishtha Chugh ,  13 Dec 16

State power utility Eskom is dragging its feet on honoring government-brokered deals with private renewables companies. Its refusal to purchase 250 megawatts of power from wind and solar projects has left its Irish and Saudi Arabian suppliers fuming and in limbo. More than scuppering the deals, Eskom’s actions, critically, threaten to undermine the gains made by the country’s green energy program, which many have come to hail as the shining beacon of a renewables-based future . On the Fieldstone Africa Renewable Index or FARI, South Africa’s ranking has plummeted off the charts entirely, prompting concerns amongst investors over green energy’s future in the country. Its decline is ironic given the rainbow nation had topped the continent-wide list just four months ago.

With a cluster of over 100 solar and wind projects South Africa is still currently home to the world’s fastest growing renewables program, generating 2.2 gigawatts of energy. According to FARI the country’s program has delivered enormous economic value for South Africa, attracting R196.4 billion ($14.4billion) in investments and created 20,000 jobs…….http://www.forbes.com/sites/nishthachugh/2016/12/13/in-south-africa-nuclear-energy-is-becoming-a-dirty-word/#3738ad892b37

December 14, 2016 Posted by | renewable, South Africa | Leave a comment

New Mexico Senators slam Trump’s pick of Perry for DOE

exclamation-SmFlag-USAUdall, Heinrich slam Trump’s pick of Perry for DOE, citing labs http://nmpoliticalreport.com/134959/udall-heinrich-slam-trumps-pick-of-perry-for-doe-citing-labs/ By  , 13 Dec 16, New Mexico’s two U.S. Senators took aim at the latest cabinet level nominee announced by President-elect Donald Trump Tuesday.

Sen. Martin Heinrich called former Texas Governor Rick Perry “utterly unqualified” to lead the Department of Energy, while Sen. Tom Udall said he was “disappointed” by the selection.

Heinrich noted that those who work at the national labs in New Mexico are affected by the Department of Energy, and called the department “New Mexico’s economic lifeblood.”

Udall also mentioned that most of the DOE budget is earmarked for “its solemn and critical responsibilities regarding our nation’s nuclear security.”

Udall brought up Los Alamos National Lab and Sandia National Labs as the “crown jewels of our nuclear security complex,” as well as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southeast New Mexico.

“New Mexico is also home to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation’s only deep geologic facility that disposes of weapons-related nuclear waste, which is closed due to a radiological accident and still faces a difficult road to recovery,” Udall said. “To win the confidence of the American people and the Senate, Gov. Perry will need to demonstrate a strong understanding of these complex challenges and lay out a management vision to execute the difficult tasks before the department.”

Heinrich had a similar message.

President-elect Trump has signaled his blatant hostility to the Department and the workforce at our National Labs by nominating someone who has proposed eliminating this entire agency,” Heinrich said. “I’m not confident that Rick Perry is fully cognizant of the role that DOE plays in keeping our nuclear deterrent safe, secure and reliable.”

During his own failed presidential campaign in 2011, Perry famously said he wanted to eliminate three agencies. When naming them during a debate, he forgot the third, the Department of Energy—the very same agency that the president-elect is choosing him to lead.

December 14, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Rick Perry who aimed to abolish Dept of Energy (DOE) – to be named by trump as DOE Secretary!

exclamation-SmFlag-USAOOPS: RICK PERRY TAPPED TO LEAD DEPARTMENT HE WANTED TO ELIMINATE
The brain-frozen Texas governor gets the last laugh.
Vanity Fair, BY   , 13 Dec 16,  Continuing his trend of appointing people to lead the same departments they want to destroy, Donald Trump will reportedly announce that he will appoint Rick Perry, who famously forgot during a 2011 debate that he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy, to lead the Department of Energy.

Perry, the former governor of Texas, was previously briefly a frontrunner in the 2012 presidential race, until his fortunes cratered when he struggled to list the three departments he would eliminate as president. “Oops”, he offered sheepishly. Having forgotten that he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy (in addition to the Commerce and Education departments) is hardly the most troublesome aspect of Perry’s nomination.

While Perry spent more than a decade as the executive of a state that is a major energy producer—promoting the expansion of fossil fuel extraction even as Texas itself became a leader in wind power, with over 10 percent of the state’s energy being drawn from wind farms—the D.O.E. is mostly concerned with nuclear energy, including the safe handling of nuclear materials, oversight of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactor production, energy-related research, and developing new energy technologies…..

……Judging from his 2012 platform and his position on the board of a natural gas company, Perry, a climate-change skeptic, would tout energy independence above all and push for an increase in North American drilling and “clean coal” technologies. Trump, too, has promised to increase America’s energy production by lifting regulations limiting the extraction and production of domestic oil, coal, and gas. But neither Trump nor Perry have said much about nuclear energy, which remains the central mission of the D.O.E. http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/12/donald-trump-rick-perry-energy-department

December 14, 2016 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Rouhani orders nuclear-fuelled warships, and mounts legal challenge against US trade restrictions

RouhaniIran’s President Hassan Rouhani orders nuclear-fuelled warships as he accuses US of ‘violating’ deal http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/iran-nuclear-powered-war-ships-response-us-sanctions-a7471566.html

Leader mounting legal challenge against US trade restrictions Harriet Agerholm  @HarrietAgerholm Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has ordered the head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation to start planning the development of nuclear-powered ships in reaction to what he called the United States’ violation of their nuclear deal.

Earlier in December the US Senate voted to extend the Iran Sanctions Act by 10 years, a decision that was criticised by the Iranian foreign minister at the time who said it showed the US government had “a lack of credibility”.

In a letter read out on Tuesday on state television, Mr Rouhani condemned the move as a breach of the 2015 nuclear accord and told the nation’s scientists to begin “planning the design and production of fuel and nuclear power plants for maritime transport”.

The leader also said he had ordered the foreign minister to mount a legal challenge against the US.

The 2015 nuclear accord between Iran and six world powers lifted a variety of sanctions against the nation in exchange for restrictions on the Iranian nuclear programme.

Yet the US keeps its own set of trade restrictions against the country – separate from the agreement – which were set to expire at the end of the year.

Politicians in the Senate said the sanctions were extended not only because of nuclear issues, but also over concerns about ballistic missile-testing and human rights in the country.

President Barack Obama is expected to sign the extension into law in the coming days.

The nuclear marine propulsion technology Iran has vowed to develop uses a nuclear reactor to generate electricity on a ship. Tensions in the Middle East have grown since the US elected Donald Trump as President, Iran’s defence minister said on Sunday.

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Iran nuclear deal involves several nations – not just the USA

flag-IranNuclear agreement not a deal solely between U.S. and Iran: Daryl Kimball, Tehran Times By Javad Heirannia December 13, 2016 TEHRAN – Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington, says the nuclear deal is not a bilateral agreement between the United States and Iran that can be unilaterally abrogated by the incoming administration of Donald Trump.

“The nuclear agreement is not a deal solely between the United States and Iran,” Kimball tells the Tehran Times in an exclusive interview.

Kimball says, “If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments.”

Following is the full text of the interview:

Q: During presidential campaigns Donald Trump said he would “renegotiate” the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran. What is your prediction?

A: Yes, Mr. Trump did pledge to “dismantle” the 2015 agreement between six world powers and Iran, which has led to verifiable limits on Iran’s capacity to produce material that could be used for nuclear weapons, allowed Iran to continue peaceful nuclear activities, and led to the removal of nuclear-related international sanctions — a win-win scenario for both sides.

It is not clear at this point whether and how Trump would seek to do this or why. Trump’s campaign statements on many issues appear to have been designed to pander to hard-right elements of the Republican Party in order to obtain votes and to criticize the Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton………..

Q: If Trump violates the JCPOA, how will Washington’s European allies and JCPOA parties react?

A: If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments.

The nuclear agreement is not a deal solely between the United States and Iran. Washington worked with Russia, China, France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to build an international sanctions regime to pressure Iran to the negotiating table and then reach a deal to block Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons. None of these countries have any intention of walking away from the agreement, which is working well for them, and the people of Iran.

If the United States administration or Congress takes actions that violate the JCPOA (such as failing to renew waivers of nuclear-related sanctions under the “Iran Sanctions Act”) or measures that are clearly designed to provoke Iran to take actions that would violation the JCPOA, I think it very likely that the United States’ P5+1 partners will resist such actions and seek to insulate the JCPOA as much as possible. Many American foreign policy experts and a significant majority of the American people would also question such a cynical and counterproductive move…….

If the Trump administration walks away from the nuclear deal, it would also send a dangerous message to our European allies, Russia, and China that the United States cannot be trusted to honor agreements and commitments. After sending such a message to the international community, Trump would be hard-pressed to build an international sanctions coalition strong enough to push Iran back to the negotiating table.

On the other hand, if the IAEA finds that Iran has failed to meet its obligations under the deal, however minor the infraction, it is likely that hard-liners in Congress and in the Trump administration will seek to use this as a reason to blame Iran and walk away from the deal and reimpose sanctions. This makes it essential, in my view, for Iran to continue to meet its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA. http://www.tehrantimes.com/news/409095/Nuclear-agreement-not-a-deal-solely-between-U-S-and-Iran-Daryl

December 14, 2016 Posted by | Iran, politics international | Leave a comment