Fukushima: A Lurking Global Catastrophe?
by Robert Hunziker / February 19th, 2017
Year over year, ever since 2011, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown grows worse and worse, an ugly testimonial to the inherent danger of generating electricity via nuclear fission, which produces isotopes, some of the most deadly poisonous elements on the face of the planet.
Fukushima Diiachi has been, and remains, one of the world’s largest experiments; i.e., what to do when all hell breaks lose aka The China Syndrome.
Scientists still don’t have all the information they need for a cleanup that the government estimates will take four decades and cost ¥8 trillion. It is not yet known if the fuel melted into or through the containment vessel’s concrete floor, and determining the fuel’s radioactivity and location is crucial to inventing the technology to remove the melted fuel.1
As it happens, “inventing technology” is experimental stage stuff. Still, there are several knowledgeable sources that believe the corium, or melted core, will never be recovered. Then what?
According to a recent article, “Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi,” February 11, 2017 by Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University: The Fukushima nuclear facility is a global threat on level of a major catastrophe.
Meanwhile, the Abe administration dresses up Fukushima Prefecture for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, necessitating a big fat question: Who in their right mind would hold Olympics in the neighborhood of three out-of-control nuclear meltdowns that could get worse, worse, and still worse? After all, that’s the pattern over the past 5 years; it gets worse and worse. Dismally, nobody can possibly know how much worse by 2020. Not knowing is the main concern about holding Olympics in the backyard of a nuclear disaster zone, especially as nobody knows what’s happening. Nevertheless and resolutely, according to PM Abe and the IOC, the games go on.
Along the way, it’s taken Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) nearly six years to finally get an official reading of radiation levels of the meltdown but in only one unit. Analysis of Unit #2 shows radiation levels off-the-charts at 530 Sieverts, or enough to kill within minutes, illustrative of why it is likely impossible to decommission units 1, 2, and 3. No human can withstand that exposure and given enough time, frizzled robots are as dead as a door nail.
A short-term, whole-body dose of over 10 sieverts would cause immediate illness and subsequent death within a few weeks, according to the World Nuclear Association.2
Although Fukushima’s similar to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in some respects, where 1,000 square miles has been permanently sealed off, Fukushima’s different, as the Abe administration is already repopulating portions of Fukushima. If they don’t repopulate, how can the Olympics be held with food served from Fukushima and including events like baseball held in Fukushima Prefecture?
Without question, an old saw – what goes around comes around – rings true when it comes to radiation, and it should admonish (but it doesn’t phase ‘em) strident nuclear proponents, claiming Fukushima is an example of how safe nuclear power is “because there are so few, if any, deaths” (not true). As Chernobyl clearly demonstrates: Over time, radiation cumulates in bodily organs. For a real life example of how radiation devastates human bodies, consider this fact: 453,391 children with bodies ravaged, none born at the time of the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986, today receive special healthcare because of Chernobyl radiation-related medical problems like cancer, digestive, respiratory, musculoskeletal, eye disease, blood disease, congenital malformation, and genetic abnormalities. Their parents were children in the Chernobyl zone in 1986.3
Making matters worse yet, Fukushima Diiachi sets smack dab in the middle of earthquake country, which defines the boundaries of Japan. In that regard, according to Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University:
The problem of Unit 2… If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will then be utterly out of the question.4
Accordingly, the greater Tokyo metropolitan area remains threatened for as long as Fukushima Diiachi is out of control, which could be for generations, not years. Not only that, Gee-Whiz, what if the big one hits during the Olympics? After all, earthquakes come unannounced. Regrettably, Japan has had 564 earthquakes the past 365 days. It’s an earthquake-ridden country. Japan sits at the boundary of 4 tectonic plates shot through with faults in zigzag patterns, very lively and of even more concern, the Nankai Trough, the candidate for the big one, sits nearly directly below Tokyo. On a geological time scale, it may be due for action anytime within the next couple of decades. Fukushima Prefecture’s not that far away.
Furthermore, the Fukushima Diiachi nuclear complex is tenuous, at best:
All four buildings were structurally damaged by the original earthquake some five years ago and by the subsequent hydrogen explosions so should there be an earthquake greater than seven on the Richter scale, it is very possible that one or more of these structures could collapse, leading to a massive release of radiation as the building falls on the molten core beneath.5
Complicating matters further, the nuclear site is located at the base of a mountain range. Almost daily, water flows from the mountain range beneath the nuclear plant, liquefying the ground, a sure-fire setup for cascading buildings when the next big one hits. For over five years now, radioactive water flowing out of the power plant into the Pacific carries isotopes like cesium 134 and cesium 137, strontium 90, tritium, plutonium americium and up to 100 more isotopes, none of which are healthy for marine or human life, quite the opposite, in fact, as those isotopes slowly cumulate, and similar to the Daleks of Doctor Who fame (BBC science fiction series, 1963-present) “Exterminate! Exterminate! Exterminate!”
Isotopes bio-concentrate up the food chain from algae to crustaceans to small fish to big fish to bigger humans. Resultant cancer cells incubate anytime from two years to old age, leading to death. That’s what cancer does; it kills.
Still, the fact remains nobody really knows for sure how directly Fukushima Diiachi radiation affects marine life, but how could it be anything other than bad? After all, it’s a recognized fact that radiation cumulates over time; it’s tasteless, colorless, and odorless as it cumulates in the body, whether in fish or further up the food chain in humans. It travels!
An example is Cesium 137, one of the most poisonous elements on the planet. One gram of Cesium 137 the size of a dime will poison one square mile of land for hundreds of years. That’s what’s at stake at the world’s most rickety nuclear plant, and nobody can do anything about it. In fact, nobody knows what to do. They really don’t.
When faced with the prospect of not knowing what to do, why not bring on the Olympics? That’s pretty good cover for a messy situation, making it appear to hundreds of thousands of attendees, as well as the world community “all is well.” But, is it? Honestly….
The Fukushima nuclear meltdown presents a special problem for the world community. Who knows what to believe after PM Abe lied to the IOC to get the Olympics; see the following headline from Reuters News:
“Abe’s Fukushima ‘Under Control’ Pledge to Secure Olympics Was a Lie: Former PM,” Reuters, September 7, 2016.
Abe gave the assurances about safety at the Fukushima plant in his September 2013 speech to the International Olympic Committee to allay concerns about awarding the Games to Tokyo. The comment met with considerable criticism at the time… Mr. Abe’s ‘under control remark, that was a lie,’ Koizumi (former PM) now 74 and his unruly mane of hair turned white, told a news conference where he repeated his opposition to nuclear power.
As such, a very big conundrum precedes the 2020 games: How can the world community, as well as Olympians, believe anything the Abe administration says about the safety and integrity of Fukushima?
Still, the world embraces nuclear power more so than ever before as it continues to expand and grow. Sixty reactors are currently under construction in fifteen countries. In all, 160 power reactors are in the planning stage and 300 more have been proposed. Pro-Nuke-Heads claim Fukushima proves how safe nuclear power is because there are so few, if any, deaths, as to be inconsequential. That’s a boldfaced lie.
Here’s one of several independent testimonials on deaths because of Fukushima Diiachi radiation exposure (many, many, many more testimonials are highlighted in prior articles, including USS Ronald Reagan sailors on humanitarian rescue missions at the time):
It’s a real shame that the authorities hide the truth from the whole world, from the UN. We need to admit that actually many people are dying. We are not allowed to say that, but TEPCO employees also are dying. But they keep mum about it.6
- Emi Urabe, “Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots“, The Japan Times, February 17, 2017. 
- Emi Urabe, “Fukushima Fuel-Removal Quest Leaves Trail of Dead Robots”, The Japan Times, February 17, 2017. 
- “Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster”, USA Today, April 17, 2016). 
- Shuzo Takemoto, “Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi”, February 11, 2017. 
- Helen Caldicott: “The Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Continues Unabated”, Independent Australia, February 13, 2017. 
- Katsutaka Idogawa, former mayor of Futaba (Fukushima Prefecture), “Fukushima Disaster: Tokyo Hides Truth as Children Die, Become Ill from Radiation – Ex-Mayor”,RT News, April 21, 2014. 
Robert Hunziker (MA, economic history, DePaul University) is a freelance writer and environmental journalist whose articles have been translated into foreign languages and appeared in over 50 journals, magazines, and sites worldwide. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org. Read other articles by Robert.
This article was posted on Sunday, February 19th, 2017 at 11:15pm
¶ “Will fossil fuels and conventional cars be obsolete by 2030?” In 2016, solar power became the cheapest form of energy in 58 lower-income countries, including China, India, and Brazil, and the cost is still dropping. In Europe, in 2016, 86% of the newly installed energy capacity was from renewable sources. Is it all over for fossil fuels? [Huffington Post]
Solar power rising
¶ London has air pollution levels that sometimes exceed those of Beijing. NOx levels have gone well beyond EU legal limits; over a 5 day period in January, their levels exceeded the EU’s legal limit for a full year. The Mayor announced that central London will institute a £10 charge for entering vehicles that don’t meet Euro 4 standards. [CleanTechnica]
¶ The government of France is reportedly now offering a state subsidy of €200 to buyers of certain electrically powered bicycles…
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Overseas nuclear business a huge burden on Toshiba , Japan News, February 22, 2017 By Miho Yokoi / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer Toshiba Corp. has been facing a need to review its nuclear business because it has been a drag on the company’s reconstruction efforts, mostly caused by the huge loss booked in reactor building projects in the United States and construction delays in other countries.
Nonetheless, it will not be easy for the major electronics and machinery maker to considerably shrink its nuclear business overseas because there are only a handful of entities that can build such facilities.
Toshiba will likely book a loss of more than ¥700 billion for the April-December 2016 period, and U.S. subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co. is a major factor behind the result…….
It is likely that Toshiba will face a ballooning loss if construction for the reactors [Plant Vogtle in Georgia, USA) continues to be delayed. “It would be a lie if we say there’s no risk at all,” said Corporate Vice President Mamoru Hatazawa.
Toshiba won contracts for building two reactors in Texas in 2009, but their construction has not yet started. The projects have been affected by the increase in the amount of U.S. shale gas production, which has caused fuel prices for thermal power generation to nosedive, thereby boosting needs for a method with cheaper running costs.
Meanwhile, Toshiba’s nuclear businesses in countries other than the United States have also been facing an uphill battle.
In China, for example, Westinghouse has undertaken construction of four nuclear reactors, originally with an aim to put them into operation between 2013 and 2015. However, none of them has been completed because of delays in the work.
The U.S. subsidiary also hoped to win contracts for developing six reactors in India, but the plan has been stalled because it is so risky for a builder to sign a contract under the current Indian law, which obliges the entity to assume liability for compensation in the event of a nuclear accident……..http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003536775
Bill to label nuclear energy as renewable stalls A bill aimed at classifying nuclear power as a renewable energy source in New Mexico stalled Thursday afternoon in committee on a tie vote.
House Bill 406, sponsored by Rep. Cathrynn Brown, R-Carlsbad, would have amended the state’s Renewable Energy Act, which requires energy companies provide a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources…. New Mexico Political Report 24 Feb 17
Nuclear Is Renewable Energy? http://krwg.org/post/nuclear-renewable-energy
By CVNM •Santa Fe, N.M. 24 Feb 17 – Today, the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Committee debated Nuclear Energy as Renewable Energy (HB 406, Brown). The bill was tabled on a tied vote. CVNM Legislative Director Ben Shelton and CVNM Education Fund Western New Mexico Program Director Talia Boyd released the following statements:
“Nuclear energy is part of the problem, not the solution. Proposing to classify nuclear as renewable energy – as Governor Martinez did her in energy plan – disrespects the sacrifice Indigenous communities in western New Mexico have already made and continue to make with their health from the impacts of uranium mining,” says Ben Shelton, CVNM Legislative Director. “In addition, adding nuclear energy to the Renewable Energy Portfolio standard neutralizes its job creating potential because of nuclear assets already held by New Mexico’s two largest electric utilities – something our leaders should not consider a possibility.”
“My community in Gallup and Church Rock have witnessed our health, culture, families, and land be desecrated and sacrificed for uranium – an industry that many in our communities do not want, as demonstrated by a ban on uranium mining passed by the Navajo Nation in 2005,” says Talia Boyd, CVNM Education Fund Western New Mexico Organizer and member of the Diné Nation.
“Communities that have been living with the impacts of poor energy policy need to be at the table shaping our energy future by putting hardworking New Mexicans first with clean, renewable energy jobs, like wind and solar.”
A link between cancer rates and nuclear plants? http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/MP/20170221/NEWS/170229937 Joseph Mangano Executive Director Radiation and Public Health Project 02/21/17,SINCE THE TWO NUCLEAR REACTORS AT LIMERICK Began operating in the 1980s, the question of whether toxic radiation releases affected local cancer rates has persisted.
BERGEN — The cost of bringing the state’s energy portfolio to 50 percent renewable sources by 2030 will be felt all over the state next month.
But communities such as the village of Bergen — which have municipal electric departments — the costs of scaling up renewable sources and keeping four upstate nuclear power plants viable will be felt more deeply.
PUBLISHED: FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2017
Village officials said Wednesday they have reached out to their approximately 670 customers, but are surprised increasing utility rates aren’t getting more attention. In Bergen alone, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard is expected to raise the cumulative bill paid by Bergen Electric consumers by $90,668 in 2017 to fund the Zero Emission Credit program.
“No matter who supplies your power, whether it’s Bergen Electric, or National Grid, or RG&E, every electricity user in the state is going to be paying more starting next month,” Bergen Administrator, Clerk and Treasurer Courtney Gale said last week with near incredulity. “(The state) is giving three power plants $482 million per year, basically subsidizing them so they make money … and it’s not just us, everyone in the whole state will have their rates increasing. We sent this letter out, and I’m sure we’ll get a lot of questions.”
In their one-page letter, the village told residents that the ZEC and the Renewable Energy Credit program that will fund renewable energy-generating facilities will show up on their bills, and that they are non-legislative mandates. “Bergen Electric has no choice but to abide with the order” it reads.
“As a village, we’re constantly looking for ways to make it more efficient for everybody, with LED streetlights and other things like that,” Mayor Anna Marie Barclay said. “So we’re on one side, trying to be as efficient as possible … and now we have to add a fee that’s totally out of our control. It’s frustrating.”
With all the focus on windmills off Long Island and the shuttering of the downstate region’s sole nuclear plant, Gale and Barclay said their outreach aims to raise awareness before residents’ bills rise.
It may be spelled out on a private energy firm’s bill, but it will just show up as a higher rate with municipal providers.
According to estimates prepared for the 41 New York communities that provide municipal electricity through a supply that’s partially subsidized from power generated at Niagara Falls, the Zero Emission Credits will vary based on the scale of systems.
Silver Springs is projected to have $20,431 in ZEC charges this year, with Castile at $26,891.
Communities supplying power to agri-business users such as Bonduelle in Bergen, or cold storage operations like Holley will see $97,991 in increases. Those supporting manufacturing facilities, like Arcade, will see $435,404.
They will have higher costs but increases are set across the board at roughly $0.003 per kilowatt hour of electricity.
Even though the village is limited by contracts not to produce its own power in an effort to reduce rates further, Bergen supplies power to residential and commercial users at a market rate of around $0.06 to $0.08 per kilowatt hour, which Barclay said is a small but beneficial support the village can offer.
“It’s a perk that people are glad to hear about,” Barclay said. “It’s not something that causes people to move here to somewhere else, but it does make a difference. Our electric bills are maybe two-thirds of what someone’s bill is outside of the village. And if you have electric heat it’s a huge difference.”
Gale estimated roughly a third of the Bergen’s homes are heated by electric sources, and one subdivision is all electric — there’s no natural gas.
“For a lot of people in Bergen (it makes sense) because it’s so cheap to heat their whole house with electric,” Gale said, at costs of a few hundred dollars per month in the winter. “For them, a little increase is still going to be a lot, and those are people who already have a hard time paying for electric. It will hurt them more.”
Village seeking ideas for grant
Barclay and Gale said Bergen’s energy bonafides are serious and growing. They have already reached the requirements for NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Community program, which will provide grants of $100,000 to four Rochester-area municipalities and five $50,000 grants to five more that show progress on energy efficiency.
By changing all of the village’s streetlights to LEDs over the past years, passing two policy resolutions and staging an energy efficiency training, the village is ready to claim the prizes. Now they need to figure out what to ask for.
Projects would need to be related to additional energy savings, but would have to create a community-wide benefit. Barclay said adding an electric vehicle charging station is one possibility, which could pull more Thruway and I-490 traffic into the village to eat and shop.
“There’s a lot of options,” she said.
SERCO is in financial trouble.
A little Background info.
SERCO runs the support services for the MOD, such as the Atomic Weapons
Establishment at Aldermaston, and operates four vessels transporting spent
nuclear fuel around the globe for reprocessing.
You can find out more about what else it does at
Now comes the sad news.
Serco profit fell 14% in 2016
Today their share price has just dropped to 116 pence.
That is from a high point of 545 pence in 2013.
I’m thinking that this is a company which is worth keeping an eye on during
the next couple of weeks.
Report from Martyn Lowe at;
Toshiba considers bankruptcy of its nuclear branch in the United States
Jueves, Febrero 23, 2017
Japan’s technology giant Toshiba is considering bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric, its nuclear energy arm in the US. UU. Whose multi-million dollar devaluation will result in heavy losses for the company.
The Japanese conglomerate shuffles this move as one of its options in the framework of reviewing the operations of the atomic unit, the source of its financial problems, according to company sources.
The information triggered the price of Toshiba shares on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, where they rose 12% after the fall of more than 4% experienced on Thursday.
The company’s shares had lost more than half its value since it announced at the end of last December a multi million-dollar deterioration of its nuclear assets in the US. Which has led to the reduction of these operations and the resignation of its president, Shigenori Shiga.
The company, which expects a net loss of 390 billion yen (3,232 million euros) for the entire fiscal year 2016, maintains a dispute with Chicago Bridge & Iron, former owner of Westinghouse, on account of its valuations of assets and business Of the constructor.
The devaluation of Toshiba’s nuclear energy arm is due to the increase in labor costs and the construction of projects to build new nuclear plants in the United States.
Published 24 February 2017
Technetium-99 is a byproduct of plutonium weapons production and is considered a major U.S. challenge for environmental cleanup. At the Hanford Site nuclear complex in Washington state, there are about 2,000 pounds of the element dispersed within approximately 56 million gallons of nuclear waste in 177 storage tanks. The U.S. Department of Energy is in the process of building a waste treatment plant at Hanford to immobilize hazardous nuclear waste in glass. But researchers have been stymied because not all the technetium-99 is incorporated into the glass and volatilized gas must be recycled back into the melter system.
A Washington State University study of the chemistry of technetium-99 has improved understanding of the challenging nuclear waste and could lead to better cleanup methods.
The work is reported in the journal Inorganic Chemistry. It was led by John McCloy, associate professor in the School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and chemistry graduate student Jamie Weaver. Researchers from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), the Office of River Protection and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory collaborated.
Technetium-99 is a byproduct of plutonium weapons production and is considered a major U.S. challenge for environmental cleanup. At the Hanford Site nuclear complex in Washington state, there are about 2,000 pounds of the element dispersed within approximately 56 million gallons of nuclear waste in 177 storage tanks.
WSU notes that the U.S. Department of Energy is in the process of building a waste treatment plant at Hanford to immobilize hazardous nuclear waste in glass. But researchers have been stymied because not all the technetium-99 is incorporated into the glass and volatilized gas must be recycled back into the melter system.
The element can be very soluble in water and moves easily through the environment when in certain forms, so it is considered a significant environmental hazard.
Because technetium compounds are challenging to work with, earlier research has used less volatile substitutes to try to understand the material’s behavior. Some of the compounds themselves have not been studied for 50 years, said McCloy.
“The logistics are very challenging,” he said.
The WSU work was done in PNNL’s highly specialized Radiochemical Processing Laboratory and the radiological annex of its Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory.
The researchers conducted fundamental chemistry tests to better understand technetium-99 and its unique challenges for storage. They determined that the sodium forms of the element behave much differently than other alkalis, which possibly is related to its volatility and to why it may be so reactive with water.
“The structure and spectral signatures of these compounds will aid in refining the understanding of technetium incorporation into nuclear waste glasses,” said McCloy.
The researchers also hope the work will contribute to the study of other poorly understood chemical compounds.
— Read more in Jamie Weaver et al., “Chemical Trends in Solid Alkali Pertechnetates,” Inorganic Chemistry (21 February 2017) (DOI: 10.1021/acs.inorgchem.6b02694)
Another article on nuclear waste studies here ;
Identifying the right sites for storing radioactive waste
Published 24 February 2017
“Radioactive waste containers are safer the deeper they are buried in rock, but that makes the process much more technically challenging too. I had to consider both of these factors in my thesis, while maintaining a very long-term perspective,” says Valentina Favero, a civil engineer and a researcher in EPFL’s Laboratory of Soil Mechanics (LMS) who passed her Ph.D. oral exam on 16 January. Her public defense will take place on 3 March at EPFL.
“Favero’s findings will play a role in selecting radioactive waste storage sites in Switzerland,” says Professor Lyesse Laloui, one of her Ph.D. advisors and head of the LMS. “Her work is sure to have major scientific implications and a significant impact on society.”………….
Desaturation and convergence
“The deeper you go, the more rigid and impermeable the rocks are. And that’s exactly what we want – a solid barrier between us and the radioactive waste. But the technical challenges also increase the further down you go,” says Favero. Even the process of drilling the tunnel that the radioactive waste containers will go through will affect how the surrounding rocks behave.
This led Favero to analyze how the materials will react during the various phases of this process: “Rocks located at the upper end of the tunnel will be exposed to air,” she explains. “That will lead to desaturation, in which some of the water held in the rocks evaporates. As they dry out, the materials could crack, which would make them more permeable. Yet we need impermeable rocks to achieve an effective seal.”
EPFL says that the researcher carefully studied this phenomenon and the related risks. Leaving no stone unturned, Favero also looked at the redistribution of forces when the tunnel is dug. This is called convergence, and it refers to the tunnel’s tendency to collapse on itself. The deeper the tunnel, the greater the convergence.
Favero’s exhaustive research was instrumental for the NAGRA in selecting the best two sites for storing radioactive waste in Switzerland and determining the safest and most technically feasible depth at which to place the steel canisters.
TOKYO, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) — When Hua Yi, a journalist from Xinhua, on Thursday reached an area about five kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a radiation detector he brought with him would not stop vibrating and sounding alarms.
The machine showed the radiation level there was between 5 and 10 microsieverts per hour, which is more than 100 times that of Tokyo.
Invited by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), Hua, along with some other foreign journalists, paid a visit to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
As the car he took approached the power plant, the radiation level rose quickly. Being 24 km away from the nuclear plant, the reading was about 0.114 microsieverts per hour, twice the amount of Tokyo, whereas being 15 km from the plant, the reading was 20 times higher.
Inside the power plant and close to one of the crippled reactors, the machine showed that the radiation level there was as high as 150 microsieverts per hour.
Dozens of workers wearing protection suits were spotted working by the No. 2 reactor, and according to a guide from TEPCO, the radiation level there was as high as 1,000 microsieverts per hour. Currently, some 6,000 staff are working in the Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A magnitude-9.0 earthquake in 2011 triggered a massive tsunami which destroyed the emergency power and then the cooling system of Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and caused a serious nuclear disaster, forcing some 300,000 people to evacuate.
Almost six years later, the nuclear nightmare still continues in that part of Japan.
Inside the power plant, only the No. 2 reactor looked almost intact, while other reactors which suffered from hydrogen explosions were unrecognizable.
The operator of the crippled power plant said earlier this month that levels of radiation as high as 650 sieverts per hour were detected inside the No. 2 reactor, much to the consternation of Japan’s nuclear watchdog and the local and international public.
The level was much higher than an earlier reading of 73 sieverts per hour in 2012, with the amount of radiation enough to kill a person, even after being exposed for just a brief period of time.
Even robots sent to gather information from the damaged reactor suffered malfunctions and failures, possibly due to extremely high levels of radiation.
For a long time, a number of TEPCO’s gaffes and communication blunders regarding the nuclear disaster have attracted massive criticism from the public.
Members of a media tour group look at the Unit 1 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima, Japan, February 23, 2017. (Xinhua/Hua Yi)
A report from the International Atomic Energy Agency shows that the potential damage of the Fukushima nuclear disaster to the health of the people and the environment in the area was hard to estimate due to a lack of information.
Meanwhile, messages from the Japanese government have always been “positive,” stating that the nuclear disaster caused limited damage and the aftermath is being dealt with, despite some data made public by different bodies of the government being contradictory to each other.
The area around the crippled nuclear plant is like a ghost city with abandoned houses, bags of contaminated soil piled up along a railway and in the fields, weeds growing wildly and madly.
After the nuclear disaster, the government designated an area 20 km around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as a restricted area.
At a place called Narahamachi, the restriction has been lifted, and residents are allowed to go back home since Sept. 2015. However, according to Yuuichi Okamura, a manager from TEPCO, by now only 10 percent of the residents have come back home.
After the accident happened, TEPCO claimed that the reactor’s core was damaged, but did not admit that the core had melted until two months later, though according to TEPCO’s own standards, when 5 percent of a core is damaged, it means the core has melted.
A report from a third-party investigation committee showed that TEPCO’s then-President Masataka Shimizu instructed officials not to use the specific description under alleged pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office, though then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano both strongly denied it.
TEPCO’s President Naomi Hirose apologized for keeping the fact from the public in June, 2016. “I would say it was a cover-up,” he told a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.”
According to Yuuichi Okamura, the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactors all had melted cores, and TEPCO still has no way to take out the melted nuclear fuel rods from the reactors. The over 1,500 nuclear fuel rods in No. 4 reactor have been successfully taken out and transferred to a safe place.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster ranked seven, the highest level on the international nuclear events scale, and was the most serious disaster since the former Soviet Union’s Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.
Six years on, the crisis has yet to be fully brought under control, with no precise timeline for the full decommissioning of the plant, or a precise blueprint for the technological processes necessary for it to take place.
For TEPCO, the difficult tasks of dealing with the unprecedented problems such as processing contaminated water, cooling the reactors, and removing nuclear fuels, all continue to pose serious challenges.
Friday 24 February 2017
CAPE TOWN – While Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan seemingly avoided talking about the nuclear build programme in his Budget speech, Eskom’s procurement process continued to the chagrin of different stakeholders.
Non-governmental organisations are trying to use the courts to delay the process, to allocate more time to adequately review and comment.
Makoma Lekalakala of Earthlife Africa said, “It’s embarrassing for our democracy for us to be able to get information that was supposed to be in the public domain, through the courts. What we expect from this court hearing is to hold those in the decision making processes to be accountable.”
Their legal team is arguing the constitutionality and legality of the entire process, and have used the recent ICC ruling to bolster their argument.
Ideally, the hope is to slow down the project which will cost an estimated R1-trillion.
Activists say this issue is bigger than just the costs.
Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute spokesperson, Siphokazi Pangalele said, “There’s waste that is going to be handled and they have no idea as to what they are going to do with that, so health wise that’s an implication. It’s not a South African deal, it involves another country that will be bringing their own resources so we doubt very much they will rely on us and our expertise.”
In a statement, the energy department says procurements haven’t been made as yet, but they would be constitutionally sound once it did.
The NGO’s argue renewable alternatives haven’t been explored and remain the best energy option.
The national energy regulator of South Africa says it supports government’s nuclear build programme.
The organisation believes the country would benefit from the energy mix.
NERSA managing director, Knox Msebenzi stated, “The challenges at this point are political, perhaps propaganda. There seems to be forces saying nuclear is bad or dangerous for the country.
Whoever is propagating that is misinformed. There’s some agenda that is anti-nuclear.
We, on the other hand, we believe in government’s approach. If you live in the remote parts of the North West, surely for the next 20 years we don’t see any possibility of transmission line going there.
For purposes of economic development, job creation, and manufacture and mining, here in SA we have a population similar to South Korea, and they have doubled the amount of electricity.
We need to go to that direction. Let’s talk about energy consumption, we are best at 85% electricity penetration, there are 15 citizens without electricity.
How dare we say the money for electricity has come down?”
Donald Trump wants to expand US nuclear arsenal, make it ‘top of the pack’ http://www.smh.com.au/world/donald-trump-wants-to-expand-us-nuclear-arsenal-make-it-top-of-the-pack-20170223-guk6ms.htm, Steve Holland, 23 Feb 17
Washington: President Donald Trump has said he wants to build up the US nuclear arsenal to ensure it is at the “top of the pack,” saying the United States has fallen behind in its atomic weapons capacity.
In a Reuters interview, Trump also said China could solve the national security challenge posed by North Korea “very easily if they want to,” ratcheting up pressure on Beijing to exert more influence to rein in Pyongyang’s increasingly bellicose actions.
n his first comments about the US nuclear arsenal since taking office on January 20, Mr Trump said the United States has “fallen behind on nuclear weapon capacity.”
“… We’re never going to fall behind any country even if it’s a friendly country, we’re never going to fall behind on nuclear power.
“It would be wonderful, a dream would be that no country would have nukes, but if countries are going to have nukes, we’re going to be at the top of the pack,” Mr Trump said.
The new strategic arms limitation treaty, known as New START, between the US and Russia requires that by February 5, 2018, both countries must limit their arsenals of strategic nuclear weapons to equal levels for 10 years.
The treaty permits both countries to have no more than 800 deployed and non-deployed land-based intercontinental and submarine-launched ballistic missile launchers and heavy bombers equipped to carry nuclear weapons, and contains equal limits on other nuclear weapons.
Analysts have questioned whether Mr Trump wants to abrogate New START or would begin deploying other warheads.
In the interview, Mr Trump called New START “a one-sided deal”.
“Just another bad deal that the country made, whether it’s START, whether it’s the Iran deal … We’re going to start making good deals,” he said.
The United States is in the midst of a $US1 trillion ($1.3 trillion), 30-year modernisation of its aging ballistic missile submarines, bombers and land-based missiles, a price tag that most experts say the country cannot afford.
Mr Trump also complained that the Russian deployment of a ground-based cruise missile is in violation of a 1987 treaty that bans land-based American and Russian intermediate-range missiles.
“To me it’s a big deal,” he said.
Asked if he would raise the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mr Trump said he would do so “if and when we meet.” He said he had no meetings scheduled as of yet with Mr Putin.
Speaking from behind his desk in the Oval Office, Mr Trump declared that “we’re very angry” at North Korea’s ballistic missile tests and said accelerating a missile defense system for US allies Japan and South Korea was among many options available.
“There’s talks of a lot more than that,” Mr Trump said, when asked about the missile defense system. “We’ll see what happens. But it’s a very dangerous situation, and China can end it very quickly in my opinion.”
Local consent needed despite OK to restart Oi nuclear plant, Asahi Shimbun February 23, 2017 The Nuclear Regulation Authority on Feb. 22 published a draft safety inspection report saying measures taken at the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture meet the new stricter anti-disaster standards.
In 2014, however, the Fukui District Court ordered the operator to keep the two reactors offline, raising serious questions about their safety.
Some 160,000 people in Fukui, Kyoto and Shiga prefectures reside within 30 kilometers from the plant. It is also questionable whether local residents can be evacuated quickly and smoothly if a serious accident occurs at the plant.
In a recent Asahi Shimbun survey, 57 percent of the respondents expressed their opposition to the restart of offline nuclear reactors, nearly double the number of those who supported the idea.
Come next month, six years will have passed since the catastrophic accident broke out at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Many Japanese remain unconvinced of the safety of nuclear reactors.
Kansai Electric Power is hoping to bring the two reactors back on line as early as this summer. But we find it difficult to support the plan.
There are multiple faults around the Oi plant. The biggest worry cited in the district court ruling was the possibility that a stronger earthquake than assumed could seriously damage the reactors or the spent fuel pool.
The electric utility has since appealed the ruling. But the company has also raised the estimated maximum ground acceleration that could occur in an earthquake at the location.
The utility will spend 122 billion yen ($1.07 billion) on measures to enhance the safety of the plant.
But Kunihiko Shimazaki, a seismologist and former acting chairman of the NRA, has warned against the plan. Using observation data about the powerful earthquakes that hit areas around Kumamoto Prefecture in April last year, he has argued that the utility’s calculation method may have underestimated the biggest potential shaking of a quake at the location.
After reviewing the data, the NRA dismissed Shimazaki’s argument, with Chairman Shunichi Tanaka calling it “groundless.”
But the scientist’s warning has deepened anxiety among local residents.
The spent fuel pools at Kansai Electric Power’s three nuclear power plants including Oi are almost filled to the brim.
The utility says it will build an interim storage facility outside Fukui Prefecture around 2030 so that used fuel rods can be removed from the pools.
But the company has yet to map out a specific and workable plan to build such a facility…….http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702230032.html
S. African bishop says government should scrap nuclear power; expand renewable energy sources, Ecumenical News, 23 Feb 17
The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
, Thabo Makgoba, has appealed to the South African government to scrap plans for developing nuclear energy and instead spend the money on education, training and other development initiatives.
The archbishop said in a statement issued from the church’s Synod of Bishops Feb. 22 coming at a time that faith and environmental groups are issuing a court challenge to a secret nuclear deal the government has struck up with Russia.
“The Synod of Bishops has revisited the resolution adopted by the church’s Provincial Synod last September, in which the church expressed its opposition to the expansion of nuclear energy and urged the government to pursue the path of renewable energy initiatives……
“We are deeply concerned that an expanded nuclear energy program will become an albatross around the necks of our children. And we cannot leave to the generations to come the task of disposing of our nuclear waste.”
Makgoba said the bishops believe South Africa has the potential of becoming a renewable energy hub for Africa, with huge potential for investment in manufacturing and associated employment.
“We note that overseas investors are queuing up to invest in our renewable energy program and since the design of the program is such that they provide the finance, this does not burden our people.”
ENVIRONMENT JUSTICE GROUPS
Environmental justice groups have renewed a challenge to the government’s planned expansion of nuclear energy in a court hearing in currently Cape Town.
In November the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said a closed meeting on a nuclear build plan reinforces the perception that government has something to hide……http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/s-african-archbishop-says-government-should-scrap-nuclear-power-expand-renewable-energy-sources/59172.htm
Members of the media take in the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant in Fukushima Prefecture on Thursday.
OKUMA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – While a recent investigation found what may be melted nuclear fuel rods in reactor No. 2 containment vessel at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, that information isn’t nearly enough to devise an effective method for removing it, the chief of the plant told reporters during a media tour Thursday.
“We put in cameras and robots and obtained valuable images, though they were partial . . . but it’s still unclear what is really going on there,” said Shunji Uchida, who became chief of the crippled plant last July. “We first need to know the situation of the debris.”
Last month, the utility inserted a 10.5-meter rod with a camera on its tip into a hole in the No. 2 reactor’s primary containment vessel and discovered black lumps sticking to the grating directly underneath the suspended pressure vessel, which holds the core.
Tepco claims it is still unsure whether the lumps are really melted fuel that burned through the bottom of the pressure vessel. Although it is still years away from actually trying to remove the fuel, Tepco, the government and related parties are planning to decide on a basic strategy this summer and go into more detail next year.
Uchida described last month’s surveillance operation as “just peeking.”
Engineers are playing with the idea of refilling the primary containment vessel with water during debris cleanup operations to reduce the intensity of the radiation, but since the PCV was probably damaged during the meltdown crisis in March 2011, the water that’s being pumped in 24/7 to keep the fuel cool is just leaking back out.
According to past analyses, some of the melted fuel rods penetrated the pressure vessel and fell into the containment vessel surrounding it after the March 11 quake and tsunami caused a station blackout at the plant, crippling all cooling functions.