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Taiwan to hold off on plans for problematic Japanese food imports

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Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇)

 

Taipei, Dec. 16 (CNA) The government is to put on hold a planned opening of food products from radiation-affected prefectures in Japan amid public misgivings about food safety, a Cabinet spokesman said Friday.

Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) said in a news conference Friday that the Cabinet “has to first ensure a sound inspection and management mechanism,” before talking about any opening to food products from the affected areas of Japan.

Hsu pointed out that Premier Lin Chuan (林全) has stressed the importance of “rebuilding public trust in the government’s management of food safety,” after presiding over a cross-agency meeting the previous day.

The premier also said that “without a sound inspection and management mechanism, there can be no question of such an opening,” according to Hsu.

Taiwan banned food imports from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant meltdown following a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11, 2011.

Amid reports that the government is planning to lift its ban on food imports from the radiation-affected prefectures except for Fukushima, several brands of Japanese natto containing packets of soy sauce from Chiba and Ibaraki have recently been found in Taiwan.

Hsu said that although food products from Fukushima and the surrounding prefectures are banned, there are composite packaging foods, such as the condiment sashets in packages of instant noodles, that have not been subjected to scrutiny.

“The government will review the issue and plug the loopholes,” Hsu said.

Before establishing a sound management mechanism, the government will not make a decision, “and there is no timetable for any such opening,” Hsu said.

He said that there will be three more public hearings on imports of controversial Japanese food products, saying that holding the public hearings is significant in three ways.

They are aimed at establishing a model for future public hearings, then at clarifying false information, as the public has seen all kinds of rumors flying recently.

The public hearings will also be presided over by civic groups rather than by government officials as in previous hearings, in a bid to collect views from the public on how to plug loopholes for the reference of the government, he said.

Sheu Fuu (許輔), director of food safety office under the Executive Yuan, said that all questions raised by the civic groups will be discussed and clarified one by one.

The Cabinet held 10 public hearings on the safety of Japanese products around Taiwan from Nov. 12-14 after announcing them Nov. 10, but critics saw them as essentially being held for show to pave the way for lifting the ban.

Questions were raised about why the government seemed in such a rush to hold the hearings, and some of them ended in chaos amid protests.

Sheu said that if the public still cannot accept the situation after the three public hearings, the government will review the contentious points, and if it cannot resolve such points and effectively manage food safety, “it will not rule out the possibility of maintaining the current ban.”

http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aipl/201612160007.aspx

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December 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima evacuee poll finds kids in eight Yokohama-area households had experienced bullying

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YOKOHAMA – Eight households that evacuated from Fukushima following the 2011 nuclear disaster said their children have experienced bullying at their new schools, according to a survey of 61 families suing the government and the nuclear plant operator.

Of the 61 households, 30 have children in elementary or junior high school, and eight said their children had been verbally abused or even physically assaulted at schools in and around Yokohama, according to sources involved with the lawsuit.

One of the sources quoted a plaintiff as saying that person was “unaware of a causal relationship between evacuation and bullying.” But the source also noted there may also be more bullying because some children don’t want to talk about being bullied.

In reality, it seems there are more cases,” the sources said in a statement.

Lawyers conducted the survey after it was revealed last month that a 13-year-old in Yokohama was bullied by classmates after evacuating from Fukushima, and called “germ” and extorted for money while at elementary school.

That bullying case drew public attention, prompting the Yokohama Board of Education to investigate.

Among the children of the eight households citing bullying in the survey, a male student was told such things as “Keep away from us!” and “Fukushima people are idiots,” while attending a junior high school in Kawasaki, the sources said.

The survey did not count as bullying cases in which parents said their children did not get accustomed to their new schools or could not make friends, the sources said.

In the lawsuit filed with the Yokohama District Court, 174 plaintiffs from 61 households are demanding ¥4.07 billion ($34.4 million) from the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant where three reactors melted down after a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/16/national/social-issues/fukushima-evacuee-poll-finds-kids-eight-yokohama-area-households-experienced-bullying/#.WFQRJFzia-c

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 Newly Erected Platform’s Enigma

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A bird’s eye view of Units 1 and 2 from the hill

 

On December 15, 2016, the newly elected Kashiwazaki mayor, Mayor Masahiro Sakurai, who has called for a conditional restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, one of the world’ largest nuclear plants, when he was elected mayor of this coastal city in Niigata Prefecture, northwestern Japan on Nov. 20, visited the Fukushima daiichi nuclear plant.

TEPCO, operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, eager to restart reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, invited him to tour the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant, so as to show him that they fully control the situation there.

During the election campaign, Masahiro Sakurai said he would “approve a restart of the halted nuclear plant if safety is confirmed and certain conditions are fulfilled.”

One condition is the construction of a road that residents can use for evacuation in case of an emergency at the nuclear plant. Masahiro Sakurai also promised to start decommissioning older reactors at the plant.

Tepco made Mayor Sakurai visit the Fukushima Daiichi plant site, some of its buildings, its central control rooms 1 and 2, and the land side frozen by the impermeable ice wall.

On the same day, Tepco released 6 photos of Mayor Sakurai’s visit. One of the pictures was taken while Sakurai viewed  Units 1 and 2 from the hill, it shows a new platform erected by Tepco around unit 2. This new platform with extensive stairwells and levels running the length of the building, might be part of some work to remove the refueling floor so as to replace it with a defueling building.

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No information was yet provided by Tepco regarding that platform purpose.

Source : http://photo.tepco.co.jp/date/2016/201612-j/161215-01j.html

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Food Products Imported from Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Zone Recalled in Taiwan and Hong-Kong

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Muji ready meals, natto food products imported from Fukushima nuclear disaster zone recalled in Taiwan

TAIPEI – Two types of Muji ready meals were removed from shelves in Taiwan after they were found to have come from areas affected by the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The Japanese lifestyle store removed 638 packets of the products from Tochigi prefecture voluntarily, Taiwan’s China Times reported on Wednesday (Dec 14).

The two products are the conger eel rice kit and the crab rice kit, said Ms Qiu Xiu-yi, northern district head of the Food and Drug Adminstration of Taiwan.

Muji Hong Kong said on Thursday that it was recalling the two products, following the reports in Taiwan. 

“In consideration of customers’ concern, Muji Hong Kong has removed the related products from sales floor immediately and is recalling the related products,” it said on its website. “Customers can bring their purchased products to Muji stores in Hong Kong for refund.”

In Taiwan, natto or fermented soybean products imported by Yu Mao Trading were also found to have come from Chiba prefecture, another affected zone.

Five natto products, or 1,465 items in total, were recalled.

Companies which do not report the origin of food imports accurately can be fined NT$30,000 to NT$3 million (S$1,350 to S$135,0000), the Taiwanese report said.

http://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/muji-ready-meals-natto-food-products-imported-from-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-zone

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Another Fukushima evacuee bullied at school: support group

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KAWASAKI, Kanagawa — A high school student who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture in the wake of the 2011 nuclear disaster was bullied at a junior high school here, according to a legal team supporting evacuees.

The Kawasaki Municipal Board of Education has stated that there are currently no cases of bullying toward any pupils who have evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture in any of the city’s elementary or junior high schools. Since the student in question has come forward about bullying, however, the education board has begun an investigation into junior high school graduates as well, which would include this pupil.

According to the legal team, the pupil entered Kawasaki Municipal Junior High School in April 2012, and was verbally abused by classmates who told him, “People from Fukushima are stupid,” and, “Don’t come near me.” He was also punched and kicked, the team said. The pupil’s family consulted with the school but no solution was reached as his classmates denied any bullying.

The pupil’s parents appeared at the Yokohama District Court for a class action lawsuit filed by evacuees to demand compensation from the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, and stated that although they have had a tough time over the past few years, they have received support from people around them.

At this lawsuit, the parents of a boy who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture to an elementary school in Yokohama said, “My son stopped attending school as a result of bullying.”

Meanwhile, it has been learned that another male student from Fukushima Prefecture was bullied in Yokohama.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161215/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , | Leave a comment

Rising costs for Vogtle Nuclear Reactors- Georgia Public Service Commissioners to Decide on Who Pays

Georgia Public Service Commissioners to Decide on Increasing Costs for New Plant Vogtle Nuclear Reactors http://www.cleanenergy.org/2016/12/12/georgia-public-service-commissioners-to-decide-on-increasing-costs-for-new-plant-vogtle-nuclear-reactors/

On December 20, the Georgia Public Service Commissioners will decide whether to put utility customers on the hook for cost increases while rewarding Georgia Power and its partners for the bungled expansion of nuclear Plant Vogtle. The Commissioners are considering a settlement that approves all costs spent-to-date ($3.68 billion) on the two reactors and pre-approval of an additional $2 billion in yet-to-be-spent capital costs. Watch a new TV INTERVIEW with SACE staff here.

The PSC Commissioners need to hear from Georgia Power customers about this out-of-control nuclear boondoggle!

Despite having only 36 percent of construction complete more than seven years into the project, the water-intensive Vogtle reactors along the Savannah River are likely 45-months delayed and Georgia Power’s estimated costs have increased by over $2 billion.

Once-projected “benefits” have completely disappeared. Since 2011, over $1.8 billion has been collected from Georgia Power customers for financing costs charged in advance due to anti-consumer state legislation.

Now a proposed settlement offers Georgia Power a sweetheart deal – Vogtle’s costs will increase significantly and the majority of the burden will fall on the Company’s customers, not shareholders.

The PSC Commissioners need to hear from you TODAY! Find more information here. Help spread this action on social media by sharing on Facebook or Twitter.

Contact the Commissioners before December 20, 2016 and reference “Docket#29849 – Vogtle Supplemental Information Report.”

December 16, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

A high school protest led to stopping Quebec’s uranium industry

How a high school student helped block Quebec’s uranium industry Financial Post, Damon van der Linde, Dec. 15, 2016, MISTISSINI, Que. — Hunting grouse on a snowy road that cuts through the forest north of his home in the Cree community of Mistissini, Justice Debassige reflects on why, as a 17-year-old high school student in 2012, he started a petition against a uranium exploration project 215 kilometres away.

“I read research on how it damages the land and the water, so that was what drew me in,” he said, while searching for birds down the road towards the now-shuttered site owned by Boucherville, Que.-based Strateco Resources Inc. “It’s something to really think about when we’re out here.”

Debassige said he couldn’t have imagined at the time that his petition would be the catalyst for a complete moratorium against exploration of the radioactive mineral across Quebec, result in a $200-million lawsuit by Strateco Resources against the government and pit the federal nuclear safety agency against a provincial environmental commission.

But it did, and The Matoush Project — named after the Cree family that traditionally use the land for hunting, fishing and trapping — in northern Quebec’s Otish Mountains has lost its glow…….

Debassige and two other classmates collected about 200 signatures from students and staff in opposition to the project, which caught the attention of Shawn Iserhoff, Mistissini’s youth chief at the time. He raised the concerns with the Mistissini Band Council and in the spring of 2012, Strateco arranged two days of hearings in the community………

“The traditional Cree way of life is based on the land,” said Thomas Coon, former president of the Cree Trapper’s Association, in an office that has a map showing how the entire vast territory is covered by family trap lines that are passed down through generations.

“As much as possible we try to avoid any dangerous, damaging project. With uranium, it’s damage that can never be repaired.”…….

As Strateco’s stock plummeted, anti-uranium activism grew in both the Cree and environment organizations. A group of Cree youth garnered media attention in late 2014 by walking 850 kilometres from Mistissini to Montreal and the movement also drew support from the global anti-nuclear activists. ……. the MiningWatch Canada advocacy group argues uranium’s current lack of social acceptability is based on the long-term risks of storing millions of tonnes of the radioactive mining waste.

“If the industry can show that they can handle the waste with a risk factor that is acceptable, maybe the social acceptability will change in the future, but at the moment it’s not there,” said Ugo Lapointe, spokesperson for MiningWatch in Quebec………

Debassige, now 22, won a Nuclear-Free Future Award in 2015 on behalf of the Mistissini youth for his efforts against uranium development on Cree land. Today, bringing home two birds he shot for his family’s dinner, he still doesn’t think the potential economic benefits of uranium mining are worth risking what he and his community already have.

“There’s vast open space where I can possibly one day teach my children what my father taught me: how to survive out on the land,” he said. “We’re connected to the land spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally.”

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Canada, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Financially strapped French company AREVA gets a lifeline. EDF in dire financial straits, too.

AREVA EDF crumblingAreva receives offer for 10% stake in spun-off nuclear unit , Ft.com, 15 Dec 16
Deal would help recapitalise troubled French group 
Areva, the struggling French nuclear group, received a firm €500m offer for a 10 per cent stake in a new nuclear fuel company that will be split off from its parent in a wider reshaping of the French nuclear industry.

Areva is preparing to split off its uranium mining and nuclear fuel activities into NewCo as part of a government-backed rescue after the group was forced to the brink of collapse under the weight of its own debt this year.

Earlier this year it was agreed that the other half of Areva, the troubled reactor business, would be taken over by EDF, the larger French nuclear group, in a deal that values that part of the business at about €2.5bn.

 On Thursday evening the company said it had received a firm offer for 10 per cent of the new company.The deal, if it goes ahead, will go another step towards recapitalising Areva. This will all come on top of a state-backed capital raising planned for early next year……..

EDF, the other major company in the sector, lost more than a tenth of its stock market value on Thursday after it warned of lower 2017 earnings becasue of an expected drop in power prices…….

Shares in EDF were down 12 per cent on Thursday. The stock has fallen 23 per cent over the past year after repeated warnings of weak profits. https://www.ft.com/content/4a1d5af6-c319-11e6-9bca-2b93a6856354

December 16, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, France | Leave a comment

China wants stronger international cooperation to prevent terrorists getting weapons of mass destruction

Chinese envoy calls for strengthened int’l cooperation on WMD non-proliferation Global Times, Source: Xinhua Published: 2016/12/16 A Chinese envoy Thursday called on the international community to strengthen cooperation and form synergy to prevent weapons of mass destruction (WMD) from falling into hands of terrorists.

Wu Haitao, China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, made the appeal at a UN Security Council debate on WMD non-proliferation.

Wu said solutions need to be found to peacefully address regional hotspot proliferation problems by political and diplomatic means, and there is also a need to establish a complete international norm on non-proliferation. …..http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1024077.shtml

December 16, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Divestment from fossil fuels has now reached $5.2 Trillion

Fossil Fuel Divestments Now Represent $5.2 Trillion, Climate Central  December 12th, 2016 Investing heavy weights are moving their assets and funds out of fossil fuels at a record pace.

A network of local governments, pension funds, faith organizations, philanthropies and wealthy individuals representing $5.2 trillion in assets have committed to — and in some cases already started — divesting from fossil fuel companies, according to a report released on Monday. That’s a huge sum of money for a movement that started just four years ago on U.S. college campuses and its growth is likely to continue as the world strives to reach its climate goals.

“It’s pretty clear that the growth trajectory is enormous,” said Ellen Dorsey, the executive director of the Wallace Global Fund. In the past 15 months alone, the assets represented by the fossil fuel divestment movement have doubled. As of December 2016, there are 688 institutions and 58,400 individuals across 76 countries who are on board with divesting from fossil fuels, according to the report. The analysis was completed by Arabella Advisors, a philanthropy services firm.

Those divesting include Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, Germany-based financial services giant Allianz, and Amalgamated Bank, which in September became the first U.S bank to divest. Private businesses represent $4.6 trillion in assets being divested, nearly 90 percent of the overall total……

December 16, 2016 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change | Leave a comment

Studyfinds that wind farms have significantly reduced UK’s greenhouse emissions

Brazos Wind Farm, Texas. Photo by Leaflet via a Wiki CC BY-SA 3.0 LicenseWind farms play key role in cutting carbon emissions, study finds https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-12/uoe-wf120916.phpUNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH:  WIND FARMS HAVE MADE A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT IN LIMITING CARBON EMISSIONS FROM OTHER SOURCES OF POWER GENERATION IN GREAT BRITAIN, A STUDY SHOWS.

Power from wind farms prevented the creation of almost 36 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions from sources such as coal and gas, in a six-year period – the equivalent of taking 2.3 million cars off the road, analysis of nationwide output shows.

The figures from 2008-2014, analysed in the most accurate study of its kind to date, suggest that a greater investment in wind energy could help meet Scottish and UK government targets for carbon emissions reduction.

Engineers from the University of Edinburgh analysed National Grid figures for the power generated by various sources including wind, coal and gas. Their data detailed generator energy output figures for every half hour, creating a comprehensive picture of how demand over time was met by power from the various sources.

Their study improves on previous estimates because it uses real, rather than estimated, energy output figures and takes into account the inefficiency of individual conventional generators, researchers say. The calculations are complex because energy demand is met from a mix of sources at any one time, and when output from wind turbines increases, a number of different conventional sources may need to decrease their outputs.

The study demonstrates that government estimates for carbon savings underestimated the benefits from wind farms. Over the six year period, 3.4 million more tonnes of greenhouse gases were saved than thought – the equivalent of taking an extra 220,000 cars off the road.

Engineers say their methodology could be applied to give accurate estimates of possible future emissions savings for energy developers, planners and policymakers. They suggest wind power generation could play an increasingly important role in the future energy mix, which could also include carbon capture and storage, marine and nuclear power.

The study, published in Energy Policy, was supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Dr Camilla Thomson, from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Engineering, who led the study, said: “Until now, the impact of clean energy from wind farms was unclear. Our findings show that wind plays an effective role in curbing emissions that would otherwise be generated from conventional sources, and it has a key role to play in helping to meet Britain’s need for power in future.”

December 16, 2016 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

USA nuclear regulators investigating potential risks linked to falsified French nuclear documents

U.S. looks for potential issues linked to falsified French nuclear documents  Reuters, 14 Dec 16 U.S. nuclear regulators are investigating whether the suspected falsification of documents at French nuclear power company Areva SA, which supplies components for reactors globally, poses any problems at U.S. nuclear plants……..

France’s Nuclear Safety Authority, or ASN, requested a probe of Le Creusot in early May after a flaw was discovered in the vessel of a reactor under construction in Flamanville in France.

Areva checked the records of Le Creusot and found anomalies associated with about 400 parts manufactured there since the plant opened in 1965. Areva purchased the forge in 2006.

One U.S. plant with parts from Le Creusot is Dominion Resource Inc’s Millstone station in Connecticut, which has had a pressurizer from the French forge in service in Unit 2 since 2006.

Dominion spokesman Ken Holt said that when Areva manufactured the pressurizer for Millstone they performed some additional heat treatment, but did not tell Dominion……

Another plant that may be affected is FirstEnergy Corp’s Beaver Valley station in Pennsylvania. Beaver Valley has steam generators and reactor vessel heads manufactured by Spain’s Equipos Nucleares SA, or ENSA, which FirstEnergy said may contain some subcomponents from Le Creusot.

“The audit is still underway but at this point in time there have not been any identified issues with quality or safety of any components at our plants,” FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young said.

(Reporting by Scott DiSavino; Editing by Tom Brown) http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-france-nuclear-idUSKBN1432XY

December 16, 2016 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Another delay in South Africa’s troubled move towards new nuclear reactors

Nuclear RFI delayed once again  Release postponed ‘to brief minister’. Money Web , Antoinette Slabbert  /  15 December 2016 Moneyweb has just learnt that Eskom will not release the highly-anticipated nuclear Request for Information (RFI) on Thursday, despite widely-published undertakings by its acting CEO Matshela Koko to that effect.

According to South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) chair Dr Kelvin Kemm, the documents were signed off by him and Eskom chair Dr Ben Ngubane on Thursday morning and were ready for release. A further cooperation agreement between Eskom and Necsa was also signed.

Eskom and Necsa have been tasked by government to jointly manage the procurement of the country’s 9 600 MW new nuclear build programme.

Kemm said Eskom’s shareholder representative, public enterprise minister Lynne Brown, however requested a personal briefing on the matter, since she has not been closely involved in the nuclear procurement planning……http://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/industry/breaking-nuclear-rfi-delayed-once-again/

December 16, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry confident that Rick Perry as Energy Secretary will boost their industry

Advocates optimistic a GOP-led DOE boosts reactors, Kristi E. Swartz, E&E News reporter, December 15, 2016

December 16, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment