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Food contamination fears after 3/11 make the invisible visible

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Radiation brain” was a pun that made the social media circuit after March 11, 2011, deriding people whose brains () had become unduly contaminated with fears about radiation after the disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. They had, people claimed, “radiation brains” (hoshanō), a kind of soft-minded hysteria that made them figures of fun but also figures of potential danger to society and the economy. Their lack of confidence in government regulation of foodstuffs, people argued, became the source of harmful rumors that hurt farmers and dairy producers in disaster-affected areas. Such citizens, usually mothers in charge of providing meals for their children, were reckless in their caution.

Aya Hirata Kimura, a sociologist and professor of women’s studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, presents case studies of mothers with such anxieties and examines citizens grappling with post-Fukushima food safety concerns in “Radiation Brain Moms and Citizen Scientists: The Gender Politics of Food Contamination After Fukushima.” Kimura does not make claims about the extent of actual dangers to the food supply, but she does argue that the reality of the post-disaster threat is far from certain. The government, in other words, may be right about the limited health risks posed by irradiated produce, dairy, and meat; but skepticism on the part of citizens is a rational, rather than a hysterical, response. She also examines the various constraints that made many citizens — mothers, in particular — turn to scientific activities such as running citizen radiation-measuring organizations rather than engaging in out-and-out criticism of government and industry responses to safety concerns.

Immediately after the disaster, many expected a surge of specifically anti-nuclear political activism in Japan, and indeed protests and demonstrations flourished in the spring and summer of 2011. However, just five years on from the worst nuclear disaster in decades, political activism remains a fringe activity. Part of what interested Kimura was why citizens seemed to be “more concerned than outraged.” As she noted recently, “so many seem to be perplexed why Japan, after the major nuclear accident, has not seen transformative politics.” Her book offers some answers to that question.

Kimura makes the point that avoiding confrontational politics and direct dissent is not, as is often claimed, a characteristic particular to Japanese culture. It’s a characteristic particular to neoliberalism. Neoliberalism is one of the key concepts that guides Kimura’s analysis, and she traces how the neoliberal shift to limited government, rule of the free market, and individualism has determined what kinds of demands citizens in post-Fukushima Japan can make of their government. In a neoliberal society, the government is no longer responsible for ensuring citizens’ rights to safety, economic factors rule in cost-benefit analyses and the good neoliberal citizen is willing to take on individual risk and make individual choices, while they are less willing to act collectively.

Alongside neoliberalism, Kimura introduces us to the concepts of scientism and post-feminism. Scientism indicates a tendency in which science holds authority in society to determine the “reality” of controversial and uncertain situations, although culture and society influence the creation and application of science itself. Post-feminism is the idea that systematic oppression of women has been eliminated and collective feminist activism is no longer necessary, since motivated individual women can empower themselves.

An example of how these three larger forces of neoliberalism, scientism and post-feminism play out in post-3/11 society and constrain citizen activism is the case of fūryōhigai, or harmful rumors. The term “fūryōhigai” apparently originated in the 1980s, and indicated a decline in seafood sales because of nuclear reactor accidents. After agricultural producers in areas near the distressed Fukushima No. 1 plant suffered economic losses, the term gained new currency and shifted blame onto concerned consumers, particularly “radiation brain” moms, and away from government and business interests. The prioritization of economic recovery and the individual consumer’s responsibility to participate in this effort reflected neoliberal priorities. The view of scientism insisted on the scientific authority of nuclear experts, although many of those experts had an interest in promoting nuclear power, and the science of post-Fukushima health impacts remains contested. Contradictory demands placed women at the center of controversies about food safety as mothers responsible for the health of their families but also as targets of gendered stereotypes of women as particularly unscientific and irrational, while the post-feminist social context deterred them from making collective political demands of the powers that be.

The role these three ideologies play in Kimura’s analysis might put off a nonacademic reader, but Kimura employs them to make the power dynamics to which we are all subject visible, much as her citizen scientists labor to make the invisible threat of radiation visible. Speaking about her book, Kimura noted that “all these ‘-isms’ tend to be normalized and taken for granted.” So scientism, for example, makes science’s objective authority something that is taken for granted in spite of the fact that science is shaped by social forces. Kimura works to make the ideologies of neoliberalism, scientism and post-feminism visible, because “invisibility is at the crux of their power. The more they are named, the less they can masquerade as apolitical.” Just because we cannot see these forces does not mean that they do not impact our world, and they are very real in their consequences for potential political activism.

Radiation Brain Moms and Citizen Scientists, by Aya Hirata Kimura. 224 pages Duke University Press.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2017/02/04/books/book-reviews/radiation-brain-moms-citizen-scientists-aya-hirata-kimura-224-pages/#.WJZl1fLraM8

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Workers at a consumer safety center in the city of Fukushima prepare to conduct radiation checks in March 2012 on vegetables brought in by residents

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February 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

NRA’s radioactive soil concerns omitted from minutes of closed-door meeting

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Concerns raised by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on how radioactive soil from the Fukushima nuclear disaster would be reused were omitted from the minutes of closed-door meetings on the issue, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned.
It has already come to light that comments from the Ministry of the Environment that could be interpreted as attempting to manipulate the conclusions of the meetings were left out when the minutes were publicly released. The latest revelation means yet another important part of the minutes is missing.
The meetings were held by the Ministry of the Environment between January and May last year with various radiation experts in attendance. In June, the experts decided to manage and reuse contaminated soil with levels of radioactivity under 8,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram in public construction projects.
Related legislation reads “When deciding on technical standards to prevent radiation-related health problems, the Radiation Council must be consulted.” The publicly released meeting minutes quote an Environment Ministry representative as saying, “We need to think about the consultations with the council. When we discussed the issue with the NRA, it placed importance on our management (of the reused soil).” The quote shows that the ministry had talked to the NRA, which has jurisdiction over the council, about consultations with the body.
However, a source has disclosed that even though the ministry representative mentioned specific concerns brought up by the NRA, saying, “The Nuclear Regulation Authority was most concerned about where the soil will be used, and whether it might be used in the yards of regular households,” this comment was omitted from the minutes.
Furthermore, in a rough draft of the minutes obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun, during the fourth round of Environment Ministry meetings in February last year, an official stated, “Afterwards we will ask all committee members to review the meeting minutes. After that, during next fiscal year, we are thinking of receiving your support in dealing with the Nuclear Regulation Authority.” However, these words were deleted from the publicly released minutes.
The ministry was unable to give a satisfactory explanation for the concerns raised by the NRA, and so there has been no consultation with the Radiation Council to set health standards. However, according to both the ministry and the NRA, they have discussed the issue of consultations with the committee and agree they are not yet necessary.
According to internal rules created by the authority in December 2013, the Radiation Council only needs to be consulted when setting standards by law or relevant regulations. The standards decided through the ministry meetings are only “basic ideas” before they are set by law or regulations.
The ministry plans to reuse contaminated soil on an experimental basis. An NRA representative commented, “Once the plans for the experiment are in place, we understand that they will discuss the issue with us again.”
Even the existence of the closed-door meetings was originally not announced, but after repeated requests for information disclosure, the ministry revealed the meeting minutes in August last year. While the release was called a “full release,” comments including ones that could be taken as attempting to manipulate the discussion toward a conclusion of using 8,000 becquerels per kilogram as an upper limit when reusing soil were deleted from the records. After this came to light, Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto said the minutes were “meeting summaries that only included the points of what was said.”

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2 Measures 530 Sieverts an hour but Units 1 and 3 Hotter Still

TEPCO is reporting measuring radiation levels of 530 SIEVERTS AN HOUR (10 will kill you dead pretty quickly) and has discovered a 2-meter hole in the grating beneath the reactor pressure vessel (1 meter-square hole found in grating):

Radiation level at Fukushima reactor highest since 2011 disaster; grating hole found. The Mainichi, February 2, 2017, http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170202/p2g/00m/0dm/087000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The radiation level inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex stood at 530 sieverts per hour at a maximum, the highest since the 2011 disaster, the plant operator said Thursday.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. also announced that based on image analysis, a hole measuring 2 meters in diameter has been found on a metal grating beneath the pressure vessel inside the containment vessel and a portion of the grating was distorted.

…The hole could have been caused by nuclear fuel that penetrated the reactor vessel as it overheated and melted due to the loss of reactor cooling functions in the days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 hit northeastern Japan.

According to the image analysis, about 1 square meter of the grating was missing.

…Images captured using a camera attached to a telescopic arm on Monday also showed part of the grating has gone. A further analysis of the images found a 2-meter hole in an area beyond the missing section on the structure.

A separate article published in The Asahi Shimbun notes that radiation levels in units 1 and 3 remain so high (higher than unit 2) that TEPCO is unable to investigate conditions in there:

MASANOBU HIGASHIYAMA (January 31, 2017) Images indicate bigger challenge for TEPCO at Fukushima plant. The Asahi Shimbun,http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701310073.html

If confirmed, the first images of melted nuclear fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant show that Tokyo Electric Power Co. will have a much more difficult time decommissioning the battered facility.

The condition of what is believed to be melted fuel inside the No. 2 reactor at the plant appears far worse than previously thought.

…High radiation levels have prevented workers from entering the No. 2 reactor, as well as the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors at the plant.

If radiation levels are at 530 sieverts an hour inside unit 2, I wonder what conditions are like in the 1 and 3 reactors, which are described as even hotter?

I can tell you from watching the reactors on the webcams for 5 plus years that atmospheric emissions from unit 3 have never ceased (as illustrated below far right side of screenshot):

Feb 2, 2017 23:20
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http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/02/fukushima-daiichi-unit-2-measures-530.html

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

February 5 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “The West’s Largest Coal Plant Could Soon Go Dark” • It’s big. It’s coal-fired. And it’s about to go bye-bye. The West’s largest coal-fired power plant, the Navajo Generating Station, is facing closure because burning coal is no longer a cost-effective method of generating energy. A changing administration could mean it gets saved. [Care2.com]

Navajo Generating Station (Photo: Bill Morrow) Navajo Generating Station (Photo: Bill Morrow)

¶ “The Wind Blows, the Sun Shines, and Coal Struggles” • We may not want to admit it, but the problem of energy has always come down to one thing: money. Renewable energy used to be an exorbitant cost for companies and virtually impossible for residential use. But over the last 10 years things have flipped upside down. [Energy and Capital]

Science and Technology:

¶ An article in the Mail on Sunday stunningly claims, “World leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global…

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February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

100% RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR AUSTRALIA #auspol 

Decarbonising Australia’s Energy Sector Within One Generation The transition to a 100% renewable energy system by 2050 is both technically possible and economically viable in the long term. This re…

Source: 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY FOR AUSTRALIA #auspol 

February 5, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Anti-Corruption Rule Lobbied Against by Rex Tillerson Repealed by US Congress Shortly After Senate Confirmed Him as Secretary of State; More Perks for Putin and Friends?

Mining Awareness +

It should be lost on no one that in less than 48 hours the Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed the former head of ExxonMobil to serve as our Secretary of State, and repealed a key anti-corruption rule that ExxonMobil and the American Petroleum Institute havefought for years.” (US Senator Cardin, Feb. 3, 2017: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/cardin-statement-on-senate-repeal-of-key-anti-corruption-rule-for-oil-gas-mining-industry/ )

IN FACT, REX TILLERSON, THE C.E.O. OF EXXON AT THE TIME, PERSONALLY LOBBIED AGAINST THE REQUIREMENT BACK IN 2010. HIS REASON — WHAT WAS HIS OBJECTION? THE FOREIGN PAYMENTS RULE WOULD UNDERMINE EXXON’S ABILITY TO DO BUSINESS IN RUSSIA. LISTEN TO THAT AGAIN. IF EXXON HAS TO TELL THE WORLD ABOUT THE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IT HANDS OVER TO THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT, EXXON WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO DO AS MUCH BUSINESS IN RUSSIA. SO NOW THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS WANTS TO RUSH OUT TO HELP POOR EXXON SO THEY CAN KEEP…

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February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Lack of Accountability Just Endorsed by US Congress Allows Oil and Mining Companies to Keep Robbing Countries of Money Needed to Reduce Poverty, Improve Education, Health Care, Agriculture and Reduce Migration

Mining Awareness +

Managed properly, Oxfam argues, revenues generated from the oil industry could dramatically reduce poverty while improving education, health care, and agriculture. In fact, the estimated $1.55 trillion represents five times the existing funding gap for 42 of the world’s poorest countries in both education and health, according to the report.” (D. Fulton-Common Dreams, 7-15-15, Read article below.)

And, this would go far in stopping the migration crises, as would a cessation of land-grabs related to the extractive industries and agribusiness. This is true for Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.

After 6 years of foot-dragging, the Cardin-Lugar provision, Section 1504 of Dodd Frank (2010), was finally implemented last year, only to be overturned by the US Congress a few days ago! Former Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson, now US Secretary of State, went to Washington to testify against the Cardin-Lugar provision. He didn’t want transparency-accountability.

From Common Dreams:

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February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cardin Statement on Senate Repeal of Key Anti-Corruption Rule for Oil, Gas, Mining Industry

Mining Awareness +

Tillerson Swearing in C-span screen capture
https://www.c-span.org/video/?423407-1/rex-tillerson-sworn-secretary-state

FEBRUARY 03, 2017
Cardin Statement on Senate Repeal of Key Anti-Corruption Rule for Oil, Gas Industry

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Friday after the Senate voted to repeal the Securities and Exchange Commission rule implementing Section 1504 of the Dodd Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The House repealed the rule Wednesday. Section 1504 was written by Cardin and former Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) to promote transparency and accountability by requiring domestic and foreign oil, gas and mineral companies traded on U.S. stock exchanges to publish the payments they make to foreign governments:

“It should be lost on no one that in less than 48 hours the Republican-controlled Senate has confirmed the former head of ExxonMobil to serve as our Secretary of State, and repealed a key anti-corruption rule that ExxonMobil and…

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February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Climate Change should worry us all. #auspol #science #resist

Climate challenge should worry us all Section of land that was covered by water. (Photo: Maarufu Mohammed/Standard) To my shame, I realise I might just have grown up a climate change denialist. &nb…

Source: Climate Change should worry us all. #auspol #science #resist

February 5, 2017 Posted by | general | Comments Off on Climate Change should worry us all. #auspol #science #resist

100,000 may have died but there is still no justice over Indonesian air pollution

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

GR: No family should have to endure such heartbreak because some company is pursuing profits at all costs. The tragedy extends even farther than reported here. People can breath through a rag and clean their food. Wild animals can do neither. Moreover, the smoke is from burning wildlife habitat. It’s no surprise that the World Wildlife Fund reports global loss of 60% of all the Earth’s animals since 1970. The total loss is expected to reach 67% by 2020.

“It started with a mild cough. Muhanum Anggriawati was just 12 years old when the cough began, transforming within weeks into a violent hacking that brought up a yellowish-black liquid.

“At the end of last year, her father told an Indonesian court how she had been taken into hospital, and treated with oxygen therapy, then with a defibrillator. Nothing, however, had worked. After a week on a breathing machine, she died…

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February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

February 4 Energy News

geoharvey

Opinion:

¶ “The government is right to fund energy storage: a 100% renewable grid is within reach” • Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a speech that the key needs for his country’s electricity system are affordability, reliability, and ability to help meet emissions-reduction targets. With storage, the sun and wind are ready. [EconoTimes]

The grid could go fully renewable at the same cost and reliability as fossil fuels. (Pixabay/Wikimedia Commons) The grid could go fully renewable at the same cost and
reliability as fossil fuels. (Pixabay/Wikimedia Commons)

¶ “France’s Next President May Face $3 Billion Nuclear Hangover” • Whoever succeeds Francois Hollande as France’s president may find one of their first tasks in office will be selling off some of the nation’s prized assets to prop up the state’s nuclear industry, fixing the financial problems of Areva SA and Electricite de France SA. [Bloomberg]

World:

¶ The Scottish government has granted planning consent for an extension of the Falck Renewables’ 35-MW…

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February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

USA Nuclear officials killed study on whether reactors posed cancer risk to nearby residents

This Jan. 23, 2017 staff file photo shows the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station in San Clemente. Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG/File

Federal regulators killed a rigorous examination of cancer in millions of Americans living near nuclear plants because they were convinced the study couldn’t link reactors to disease and would be too costly, newly released records show.

Doubts over the study’s usefulness ran deep at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the agency overseeing America’s aging fleet of nuclear plants. But some study skeptics pushed to save it nonetheless, arguing that modern science could help address public concerns over possible health risks related to the plants. They couldn’t convince their bosses, however, who concluded that the $8 million price tag for the pilot study — which would have examined San Onofre and six other sites — couldn’t be justified.

The previously unreported rift is captured in more than 1,000 pages of NRC documents obtained by Southern California News Group under the Freedom of Information Act. Some officials worried that killing the study would be “a PR fiasco,” reigniting questions about the demise of what some saw as the most significant federal examination of nuclear plant safety in a generation.

The push for this new probe was driven by dissatisfaction with the U.S. government’s reliance on an unsophisticated 27-year-old study — employing even older data — to assure Americans there are no health risks associated with living near nuclear power plants.

Several recent European studies found disturbing links between childhood cancers and kids living close to nuclear plants, and NRC staffers traded emails citing them. A senior agency adviser dismissed the methodology used in those studies. “Publish or perish,” she wrote to her colleagues.

NRC staffers began pressing for an update of the old U.S. study a decade ago. The NRC contracted with the National Academies of Sciences, a separate agency, to design a modern scientific assessment in 2010. The NRC spent five years and $1.5 million on the effort before abandoning it two years ago.

“Most people realize that all the evidence shows you’re not going to find anything,” said Brian Sheron, retired director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, who supported the study.

“There are so many variables. The point was, even if you found something that looked like a relationship, you wouldn’t know what to attribute it to. Did the person live their whole life near the nuclear plant? Or did they live somewhere downwind of an asbestos factory for 20 years? In order to get all the facts, it was going to be prohibitively expensive.”

Assumptions about the outcome enraged some critics.

“That is what they said: ‘We don’t need to do the study because we already know the answer,’ ” said Roger Johnson of San Clemente, a retired neuroscience professor who followed the proceedings closely. “How could they possibly know the answer?”

The scientific method begins with a hypothesis, but it needs to be tested by experimentation.

“You do not know whether the study will find something unless you do the study,” said Ourania Kosti, who headed the aborted study at the National Academies of Sciences.

“The NRC asked us to do the study because of concerns of members of the public who live near the nuclear facilities it regulates. I think it is important to use the best information available to communicate with members of the public about risks.”

In 2012, the French Institute of Health and Medical Research found that kids living within 3 miles of nuclear power plants had double the risk of developing acute leukemia as those living farther away. The peak impact was on children between the ages of 2 and 4, and the findings echoed those of a German study.

For decades, however, the official opinion of the United States government has been: “From the data at hand, there was no convincing evidence of any increased risk of death from any of the cancers we surveyed due to living near nuclear facilities.”

Which raises the question of the quality of the “data at hand.”

The 1990 report was done by the U.S. National Institutes of Health-National Cancer Institute (“Cancer in Populations Living Near Nuclear Facilities”) and has been criticized as deeply flawed. It examined more than 900,000 cancer deaths from 1950 to 1984, using mortality records collected from counties with nuclear facilities within their borders. It looked at changes in mortality rates for 16 types of cancer, and showed no increased risk of death.

But there were many problems with that approach, said critics and the NRC itself:

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February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

UK PM May to Meet Israel’s Netanyahu for arms trading whilst the UK media ignores the plight of Mordechai Vanunu

Freedom For Vanunu Now.! No matter what the Israel court decided, Israel must end this case from 1986 to now (2017). How many more years do they need? Freedom Must come Now! All these articles saying I should not speak to foreigners are coming only from England, the Guardian and the Telegraph.They are cooperating with the Israeli propaganda,repeating this order,they should not repeat this and they should demand my freedom Mordechai Vanunu 5th February 2017

Posted by Shaun McGee (aka arclight2011  to nuclear-news.net

Mordechai Vanunu has been a prisoner of the state since the UK and Israel illegally planned his kidnapping many decades ago. Theresa May is more interested in doing a trade and security deal this week with the Israeli Prime Minister post Brexit.

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As Julian Assange also languishes in the Ecuadorian Embassy, illegally held by the UK, we can see a theme developing where international and national justice are being swept aside in favour of hatred and bitterness. Will one of your children be the next persecuted target of corrupt and fascist Governments in a so called democratic country?

The war on Human Rights,  whistleblowers, activists, journalists and dissidents must stop. The UK and Israeli media needs to highlight these injustices unless they want to end up in the same position as the USA media finds itself now in. Impotent and under threat.

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me –
See more at: http://hmd.org.uk/resources/poetry/first-they-came-pastor-martin-niemoller#sthash.We8nCItc.dpuf

 

 

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Next-Generation Nuclear Power? Not Just Yet

Date: 04-02-2017
Source: Technology Review

https://fbkfinanzwirtschaft.wordpress.com/2017/02/05/next-generation-nuclear-power-not-just-yet/

The West is struggling to build out safer reactors, but China shows no such delays.

New kinds of safer, simpler nuclear reactors are having a hard time becoming a reality—at least in certain countries.

Bloomberg reports that the nuclear industry is currently struggling to build out power production facilities that are supposed to make use of new generation III+ pressurized water uranium fission reactors. While generation III reactors have been in use since 1996, the newer „plus“ versions are supposed to incorporate extra safety features and require less operator input.

Problem is, they’re proving rather tricky to actually build. Projects in France, Finland, and the U.S. are running behind schedule and over budget. And newly committed projects, such as the U.K.’s Hinkley Point, are shaping up to be eye-wateringly expensive.

What gives? According to Lake Barrett, a former official at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission who spoke to Bloomberg: “The cost overrun situation is driven by a near-perfect storm of societal risk aversion to nuclear causing ultra-restrictive regulatory requirements, construction complexity, and lack of nuclear construction experience by the industry.”

Meanwhile, China’s efforts to become the world’s largest nuclear power industry look well on track. As we’ve highlighted in the past, it’s busy building new conventional reactors, as well as investing in R&D to build more exotic kinds of next-generation hardware, such as thorium molten-salt reactors, high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, and sodium-cooled fast reactors.

Last summer, the U.S. Department of Energy announced $82 million in funding for advanced nuclear reactor research and development—not a lot of cash, to be sure, but a sign that R&D was being taken seriously. The arrival of a new president in the White House has raised the possibility of large cuts in research funding at the DOE, so the promise of future progress on new nukes in America is uncertain at best.

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima – NRA’s radioactive soil concerns omitted from minutes of closed-door meeting

Concerns raised by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on how radioactive soil from the Fukushima nuclear disaster would be reused were omitted from the minutes of closed-door meetings on the issue, the Mainichi Shimbun has learned

It has already come to light that comments from the Ministry of the Environment that could be interpreted as attempting to manipulate the conclusions of the meetings were left out when the minutes were publicly released. The latest revelation means yet another important part of the minutes is missing.

The meetings were held by the Ministry of the Environment between January and May last year with various radiation experts in attendance. In June, the experts decided to manage and reuse contaminated soil with levels of radioactivity under 8,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram in public construction projects.

Related legislation reads “When deciding on technical standards to prevent radiation-related health problems, the Radiation Council must be consulted.” The publicly released meeting minutes quote an Environment Ministry representative as saying, “We need to think about the consultations with the council. When we discussed the issue with the NRA, it placed importance on our management (of the reused soil).” The quote shows that the ministry had talked to the NRA, which has jurisdiction over the council, about consultations with the body.

However, a source has disclosed that even though the ministry representative mentioned specific concerns brought up by the NRA, saying, “The Nuclear Regulation Authority was most concerned about where the soil will be used, and whether it might be used in the yards of regular households,” this comment was omitted from the minutes.

Furthermore, in a rough draft of the minutes obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun, during the fourth round of Environment Ministry meetings in February last year, an official stated, “Afterwards we will ask all committee members to review the meeting minutes. After that, during next fiscal year, we are thinking of receiving your support in dealing with the Nuclear Regulation Authority.” However, these words were deleted from the publicly released minutes.

The ministry was unable to give a satisfactory explanation for the concerns raised by the NRA, and so there has been no consultation with the Radiation Council to set health standards. However, according to both the ministry and the NRA, they have discussed the issue of consultations with the committee and agree they are not yet necessary.

According to internal rules created by the authority in December 2013, the Radiation Council only needs to be consulted when setting standards by law or relevant regulations. The standards decided through the ministry meetings are only “basic ideas” before they are set by law or regulations.

The ministry plans to reuse contaminated soil on an experimental basis. An NRA representative commented, “Once the plans for the experiment are in place, we understand that they will discuss the issue with us again.”

Even the existence of the closed-door meetings was originally not announced, but after repeated requests for information disclosure, the ministry revealed the meeting minutes in August last year. While the release was called a “full release,” comments including ones that could be taken as attempting to manipulate the discussion toward a conclusion of using 8,000 becquerels per kilogram as an upper limit when reusing soil were deleted from the records. After this came to light, Environment Minister Koichi Yamamoto said the minutes were “meeting summaries that only included the points of what was said.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170204/p2a/00m/0na/017000c

February 5, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment