The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

February 7 Energy News



¶ “6 reasons the clean energy revolution doesn’t need Trump’s blessing” • As much as Trump and his oil-soaked administration want to make fossil fuels great again, the global clean energy revolution is getting to the point of being unstoppable. Here are a few reasons the renewables revolution will continue without Trump’s blessing. [Inhabitat]

Solar powered house in Germany Solar powered houses in Germany

¶ “Data busts the myth of cheap fossil fuels” • Carbon Tracker Initiative has released a global study that might surprise the general public, “End of the Load for Coal and Gas?” It found renewable energy is now more cost-effective than fossil fuels, conflicting with conventional wisdom that coal and gas are the cheapest fuels available. [GreenBiz]

¶ “Even Trump can’t dismiss the success of renewables” • What impact will the climate-sceptic, coal enthusiast President Trump have on the prospects for renewable energy? How will Brexit…

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February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Winter of Blazing Discontent Continues in the Arctic

GarryRogers Nature Conservation

GR:  Climate change in action. We are losing the polar ice cap and that is changing Earth’s climate right now. Nothing good will come of it.

“Weird. Strange. Extreme. Unprecedented. These are some of the words that describe what’s been happening in the Arctic over the past year as surge after surge of warm air have stalled, and at times reversed, sea ice pack growth. And the unfortunate string of superlatives is set to continue this week.

The animation shows projected polar temperature anomalies through Feb. 13, 2017.

“Arctic sea ice is already sitting at a record low for this time of year and a powerful North Atlantic storm is expected to open the flood gates and send more warmth pouring into the region from the lower latitudes. By Thursday, it could reach up to 50°F above normal. In absolute temperature, that’s near the freezing point and could further spur…

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February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

There is a change coming ….


The following article is from Left Foot Forward

There is a change coming – the nuclear dinosaurs have had their day….


“Why I’m standing for the Green Party in Copeland

A progressive alliance is impossible under these circumstances

On Friday 13 January the Green Party announced it would stand a candidate in the Copeland by-election, a decision reached by the local party. Within minutes of the announcement onlookers on social media questioned why there was apparently no progressive alliance for the seat.

This built to a crescendo when Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the Green Party, spoke about the benefits of progressive alliances at the Fabian Society New Year conference the next day.

Wasn’t it hypocritical of Jonathan to be promoting the concept of an electoral pact while his party stood against them, Labour activists said? In my opinion, absolutely not.

There are many things that a progressive alliance might…

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February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

February 6 Energy News



¶ “The clean energy juggernaut can’t be stopped now” • Investors have always held concerns about policy risk in renewable energy, but the basic direction of travel now seems set. As costs continue to fall and economic fundamentals now compete with other forms of power generation, the importance of subsidies is falling away. [The Fifth Estate]

Wind turbines in Iowa (Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons) Wind turbines in Iowa (Tony Webster, Wikimedia Commons)

Science and Technology:

¶ South Australian company 1414 Degrees developed technology to store electricity as thermal energy by heating and melting containers full of silicon, at a tenth of the cost for lithium-ion batteries. Silicon is the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust, and one tonne can store enough energy to power
28 houses for a day. [Electronics News]


¶ Spanish wind turbine-maker Gamesa will facilitate around ₹17,500 crore ($2.63 billion) of investment in wind, solar and…

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February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trident whistleblower calls out MoD’s ‘lame attempt’ to excuse nuke malfunctions
Published time: 6 Feb, 2017
Royal Navy whistleblower William McNeilly has returned fire after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) again tried to discredit him. He labeled it an attempt to cover up the dangers of Britain’s nuclear arsenal.

McNeilly was thrown out of the navy in 2015 after publishing a dossier of potentially catastrophic security and safety issues relating to Britain’s nuclear deterrent.

After reports in January this year of a failed 2016 missile test, which saw senior government figures accused of lying, McNeilly told RT that he himself had been witness to a number of serious mishaps during a Trident patrol a year earlier.

The 2016 test saw a missile which was supposed to be aimed in the direction of Africa veer toward Florida due to an internal systems failure.

The MoD responded to the former weapons engineer’s comments to RT by telling the Independent newspaper: “McNeilly’s claims, from his brief serving time before being discharged, have proved to be factually incorrect, demonstrate a lack of understanding or drew on historic, previously known, events.

We have absolute confidence in the nuclear deterrent,” they insisted.

The Independent specifically referred to McNeilly’s “claims that there were four unreported Trident missile test failures in 2015…

McNeilly responded Monday, telling RT: “I have never stated that there were four failed missile launches.

The Trident report and the information I gave RT made it clear that I was talking about missile tests.

McNeilly pointed out he had served on a nuclear missile patrol, including on watches in the command center.

There are multiple missile tests conducted every patrol,” he said.

The MoD has tried to downplay the information in the Trident report by claiming that I said things that I have never said.

The truth of the matter, he insisted, was that “I have never said I witnessed four failed missile launches… that is a lame attempt to discredit me and the Trident report by fabricating nonsense.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Smog chokes coal-addicted Poland

The soupy grey smog shrouding Polish cities this winter is one of the most visible symptoms of the EU member’s addiction to coal, a deadly habit forcing many to stay indoors or don masks before venturing out.

Professor Anna Doboszynska, a respected specialist with more than two decades of experience treating lung disease, doesn’t minces her words when talking about the health risks it poses.

“During periods of smog, more people with respiratory and circulatory illnesses actually die,” she told AFP after examining an asthma patient wheezing heavily amid a spike in pollution in Warsaw.

“Children, pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk from smog, which damages the respiratory tract much in the same way smoking does.

“A child playing outside in the smog is smoking cigarettes, it’s the same thing,” she told AFP.

Poland’s coal addiction exacts heavy health, economic toll

The thick, grey layer of smog blanketing Poland’s southern city of Krakow is one of the most visible symptoms of the EU member’s addiction to coal, a habit experts warn is both economically risky and deadly.

One Warsaw hospital reported a 50% spike in patients over several days of intense smog during a windless cold snap in January.

As anti-smog masks sold out across Poland this week, Warsaw issued them to police officers on duty across the capital.

A study published last year by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) blamed air pollution – caused in large part by the burning of coal – for an estimated 50,000 premature deaths per year in the country of 38 million people.

Seventy percent of Polish households burn low-quality coal or rubbish in old stoves for heat and antiquated coal-fired power plants generate nearly all of Poland’s electricity, giving it some of the dirtiest air in the EU.

The EEA also blames so-called “low-stack” emissions from old household stoves for countless cases of respiratory illness.

The AirVisuals website regularly lists Warsaw, Katowice or Krakow among the world’s top ten most polluted cities alongside Beijing or New Delhi.

The true cost of coal in Poland

Poland appears to be the only country that wants the UN Climate Change Conference aimed at putting a legally binding cap on global warming to end in failure, writes Anna Dubowik.

‘Government inaction’

Karolina, a Warsaw mother of three who did not wish to reveal her surname, says checking mobile phone apps for smog levels and wearing masks have become part of her family’s daily routine.

“My son’s had pneumonia twice within the last 10 months and my daughter was sick all October and November. But, of course, nobody’s blaming smog, even though we live in an area of Warsaw where there’s chronic air pollution,” she told AFP.

“What scares me the most is the total lack of information and government inaction.

“There are days on end when the smog is so bad that school and kindergarten should be closed, but nothing is being done.”

Polish pollution akin to smoking 4,000 cigarettes a year

Air pollution made headlines in Poland this week but the issue was not the only thing to worry Poles, as lack of transparency and corruption in government once again reared their heads. EurActiv Poland reports.

Authorities in Poland only alert the public when air pollution exceeds the EU-wide norm by a whopping 600%, according to Piotr Siergiej, an activist with anti-smog NGO Alarm Smogowy.

The EU limit for exposure to fine air pollutants known as PM 10 particles is 50 microgrammes per cubic metre per day.

“In Paris, authorities announce smog alerts and take action when pollution exceeds 80 microgrammes per cubic metre per day,” Siergiej told AFP.

“In Poland, the alert level is 300 microgrammes,” he added, slamming the measure as a “health hazard”.

Poland’s environment ministry recently rejected a request by his group for smog alerts – when children, the ill and the elderly are advised to stay indoors – to be issued automatically when pollution levels spike to twice the EU-wide norm.

Instead, the government, led by the rightwing Law and Justice (PiS) party, has vowed to ban low-quality coal and limit sales of the worst-polluting home furnaces over the next three months.

Poland to seek EU approval for state aid to coal mines

Poland is to notify the European Commission this month of plans to give state aid to some loss-making coal mines, Polish news agency PAP said, quoting the country’s minister in charge of restructuring the industry.

Renewable energy?

A report issued last month by the International Energy Agency identified air pollution as “one of the largest environmental health risks” facing Poles.

It also urged Warsaw to rethink its dependence on coal and focus instead on developing cleaner energy sources.

According to the IEA, coal accounted for 81% of Poland’s electricity generation in 2015 and the heavily indebted coal-mining sector – one of Europe’s largest – provided more than 100,000 politically sensitive jobs.

The rightwing government of Beata Szydło, the daughter of a coalminer, has long insisted that plentiful domestic coal is key to Poland’s energy security.

Her administration has also set tough regulations on the installation of wind turbines, in effect blocking competition from the renewables sector, which in 2014 covered about 10% of national energy needs.

The IEA concluded that “the future of renewable energy in Poland looks uncertain”, dimming hope for cleaner air anytime soon.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

[Robert Park ] Amnesty for NK officials Kim’s strategic nightmare

My Jan. 9 article addressed the anti-human inanity a preventive (aka preemptive) strike on northern nuclear facilities would represent. Synopsis: the scheme should be deemed a nonstarter as intelligence on the North’s weapons isn’t authoritative, qualifying nuclear retaliation via unexposed arsenals as a credible outcome. Such a move may breach international law, and wouldn’t be considered valid by China — thus setting the stage for another war.

Former US Secretary of Defense William Perry warned against the preemptive strike idea in a Jan. 6 op-ed, writing “Today a war would be no less than catastrophic, possibly destroying the societies of both Koreas.” He stressed Kim doesn’t possess the “objective of achieving martyrdom” and is “not suicidal,” reminding he’d never “launch an unprovoked attack on the United States.”

Perry declined undertaking a preemptive strike as defense secretary, and realized quickly that “Such a strike could still destroy the facilities at Yongbyon but probably would not destroy their nuclear weapons, likely not located there.”

Ominously, he put forth that “a second Korean War, far more devastating than the first” could be on the horizon unless North Korea’s “quest for a nuclear ICBM” is halted. However, I would caution against the use of aforesaid rhetoric; Korea’s small population lost some 5 million — primarily noncombatants — in the 1950-53 war, to allow for them to sacrifice a greater number of their people under any circumstances or by any stretch of the imagination is unacceptable.

Moreover, there’s a potentiality the “preemptive” attack would fortify Kim Jong-un’s grip on power rather than undermine him. After millions died, Kim could easily exploit the bloodbath to fuel inflammatory propaganda, as “proof” of an external threat against “the survival of the North Korean people.” Conforming to this scenario, he’d muster domestic support on such scale impossible before the strike — ensuring regime durability for generations.

All the more, PRC authorities would adopt a renewed policy undergirding Kim’s rule in the wake of such attack, thereafter guarding the regime’s continuity for their national security interests at all costs — vastly more unequivocally than previously.

Hence, the “preemptive strike” can bestow upon Kim a degree of “legitimacy” heretofore inaccessible, while undoing hard-won gains in the protracted struggle to uncloak — within the perception of the people — an altogether illegitimate, criminal and genocidal despotism.

A far more rational method — indeed, Kim Jong-un’s worst nightmare scenario — would be a vigorously-implemented policy of conditional South Korean amnesty toward senior North Korean officials and the northern military.

As reported by the Chosun Ilbo on Dec. 20 respecting the post-defection remarks of Thae Yong-ho:

“… The absence of a second-in-command in the North opens up the chance of reunification ‘if something happens to’ leader Kim Jong-un. … What scares the regime most is that the elite could defect en masse … Seoul should … find ways of reassuring them that they can come to South Korea.”

Since escaping, Thae has admonished repeatedly that “Kim Jong-un will never give up nuclear weapons” under any terms, as have many others. Yet he also has said that internal dissatisfaction with Kim Jong-un is sweeping and, consequently, his dominance has reached its limit.

On a South Korean program on Jan. 3, Thae proclaimed, “We should collapse the Kim Jong-un regime by causing an internal revolt. … I am 100 percent sure we can do it. … The South Korean government and people should enlighten North Korean citizens to make them stand against Kim Jong-un’s reign of terror.”

Nevertheless, if South Korea does not take heed of the situation, continues in limbo and renders itself powerless to respond, we could end up with a “bloodbath,” perennial division and the consolidation of Kim’s totalitarianism for his entire lifespan; with those who remain living in the long shadow of war — in which a people can never truly be free.

Twenty-five million leaflets extending provisory amnesty disseminated throughout the north forthwith could spell the end of Kim’s oppression. It would be imperative for the operation to be backed up by significant covert humanitarian gestures — such as aiding defections and assisting persons and communities in obtaining subsistence through non-official avenues — and corresponding surreptitious consultations to form alliances with as many officials in and from the north as achievable. Likewise, all modes of communication into the north such as clandestine radio broadcasts should be strategically employed.

Only recently, Thae was held to be among Kim’s staunchest adherents, so trusted he was a personal escort for Kim Jong-chul — Jong-un’s brother — to a London concert. Nearly overnight, he metamorphosed into one of the most vocal and uncompromising opponents of Kim’s tyranny — and parallel sheer reversals are wholly conceivable for other North Korean elites including those who, just as the late Jang Song-thaek did, surround Kim today.

South Korean amnesty should be contingent upon two factors: 1) The cessation of all human rights violations — most explicitly those in the prison camps — as a core, overarching objective and 2) opposing the person of Kim Jong-un.

Several amnesty recipients might have committed — upon the Kim dynasty’s decrees — the most heinous atrocities; howbeit there are numerous cases where former camp guards and North Korean military elites who participated in aforementioned crimes have been comprehensively reformed and integrated into South Korean society, even befriending one-time captives and speaking alongside them at international human rights conferences. Dismantling the genocidal system necessitates this — amnesty is unmistakably integral to disarming Kim Jong-un, freeing the North’s brutally mistreated people and reunifying the Korean Peninsula.

In view of geopolitical actualities, unification by virtue of this framework must take place solely between Koreans themselves. After Kim’s capture, it is critical that those who staged the deed have a direct channel of communication to South Korean authorities — as allies. Akin to the global intelligence vacuum which prevailed in the immediate aftermath of Kim Jong-il’s death, outside countries and media shouldn’t be informed of the shift until officially proclaimed — this time, of course, by South Korea as a unified, single and advisably independent country.

A universally acknowledged principle among North Koreans is that money reliably “answers everything.” With a relatively marginal amount of cash (or cigarettes and other commonplace items) a tremendous deal can be achieved — including the release of prisoners. No one is beyond bribes — counting those who operate prison camps or oversee nuclear development. At this juncture, virtually all want out and none feel unthreatened. A chance at life, mended families, freedom and long-term basic security is what the populace yearns for, much more than any fleeting hand-out — provisory amnesty would assuage fears of retribution and thereupon inspire mass cooperation with South Korea all through the north, stopping Kim’s killing spree and nuclear blackmail determinately.

By Robert Park

Robert Park is a founding member of the nonpartisan Worldwide Coalition to Stop Genocide in North Korea, minister, musician and former prisoner of conscience. — Ed.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Inspectors Find Safety Flaws Remain a Concern at French Nuclear Supplier

Letter says Areva hasn’t analyzed why a coverup went undetected and can’t guarantee it won’t happen again

Updated Feb. 6, 2017 2:45 p.m. ET

PARIS—A team of international inspectors described extensive management weaknesses at a key supplier for the global nuclear power industry, finding that safety failings are still a worry months after investigators revealed a decades long coverup of manufacturing problems at a French factory owned by the supplier.

In a letter sent to the supplier, Areva SA, late last month, the inspectors noted that the French company had neither analyzed why the coverup had gone undetected for years, nor could guarantee that similar…  [Paywall]

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Post 3/11 (“three-eleven”) Anti-Nuke Movement
What was that nuclear accident?
The investigation into the nuclear accident is continuing at a snail’s pace. This is because it is still impossible to get a clear understanding of just what the accident entailed.
There have been countless incomprehensible moves surrounding the accident, and while a large number of issues remain unresolved, only the obliteration of memory moves forward. Smothering over errors is tantamount to the abandoning of a determination of the causes of the accident and the pursuit of liability, and because of this there is a lack of opportunity for self-reflection, which is likely to be the reason why the same errors are repeated over again. If so, this in itself can be said to be another error. In this sense, the expression the “erosion of memory” is not necessarily correct, and there are doubts that anything such as “understanding” worthy of erosion existed in the first place.
One example would be the explosion that occurred in Unit 4 during the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS), in spite of it being shut down for regular inspections. The reasons given for this are absolutely incomprehensible. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) “estimates” that the explosion occurred “because vent gasses, including hydrogen, associated with a vent of the Unit 3 containment vessel, flowed into Unit 4 through an exhaust pipe,” (“Why did a hydrogen explosion occur in Unit 4?” TEPCO website) but this cannot be readily accepted. There are many other issues that need to be investigated, such as the tangled information regarding the “explosion” in Unit 2, information regarding pipe ruptures before the arrival of the tsunami, and whether or not, in the first place, the operations to bring the emergency at FDNPS to an end were carried out in accordance with the procedure manuals.
Neglect of these facts seems to have created an atmosphere where horrifying claims such as “It cannot be proven that shut down nuclear reactors are safer than those in operation” are allowed to become widespread, albeit on the net.
The investigation of errors gets put on the backburner when people are up to their eyebrows in issues that appear without limit from one day to the next. That is why unearthing of the true causes and problems of the nuclear accident is not carried out and liability becomes ambiguous, leaving countermeasures to fall behind, ending up with the current reality of permitting nuclear restarts. As plainly indicated by the example of Monju, which was operated without any decommissioning technology being available, it has now become the norm to “think while running” even with issues that pose serious risks to people’s life and health.
Isn’t it just at this time that we should be pausing for thought, and finding it necessary to engage in self-reflection and investigation of the errors? If we did so, as the investigation of the accident progressed, the difficulties of getting at the truth of the causes would probably become more apparent, and if that happened, it should be impossible to do anything like permit facile restarts of nuclear power plants.
3/11 as a Big Bang
One of the important pillars of the nuclear accident investigation is verification of the damage and suffering involved. The complexity of the damage has been emphasized, and that trend is deepening even today. However, if the realities are untangled one by one, the actual situation is not really all that complex. The haphazard handling of the situation in the wake of the nuclear accident has contributed to the confusion, but if we look back and consider the origins of the incident, the essential matters come into view. With the accident’s first instant as the point of departure, problems spread, people moved around, and it became difficult to see what was happening. Disorganized and inconsistent handling of the accident occurred repeatedly. These became the causes for the inconsistent conclusions that were drawn.
Therefore, in the investigation of the damage and suffering caused by the nuclear accident, if we liken the first instant of the accident to a “big bang,” the complexity can be overcome by probing into what occurred after that in chronological order.
In contrast, if we peer at the situation from the stated premises of “the evacuation zones determined by the government” or the various “safety standards,” and so on, the problems (here, the “damage”) become obscured, and it would be necessary to add the processes by which these responses were made to the list of items for investigation.
What the “three-hour blank” brought about
The tsunami arrived at FDNPS at around 50 minutes after the earthquake struck at 14:46 on March 11 2011. (There are several views about the precise time of the arrival of the tsunami.) At around 15:37 to 15:41, all AC power was lost to Units 1, 3, and 2 in that order. This caused TEPCO to issue, at 15:42, an “Article 10 notification” to the government based on Article 10 of the Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness (hereafter, “Act on Special Measures”). Following that, it was judged that the power station was now experiencing a station blackout (SBO – loss of all power) when, at 16:36, DC power (from batteries) was lost in Units 1 and 2, and thus TEPCO issued, at 16:45, an “Article 15 notification” to the government (based on Article 15 of the Act on Special Measures). This signified the occurrence of a severe accident.
Strangely, in March 2016 (around the same time that the manual on the assessment of a meltdown was “discovered”), it was “found” that the batteries had been submerged when the tsunami arrived, and thus the DC power had also been lost at the time when all the AC power was lost. We can therefore see that, by rights, the Article 15 notification should have been issued at that point (around 15:40). A delay of around one hour occurred at the stage of the report by TEPCO to the government.
It is stipulated in the Act on Special Measures (Article 15, paragraph 2) that the Prime Minister, upon receiving an Article 15 notification, must “immediately” announce a Declaration of a Nuclear Emergency Situation (hereafter, “Declaration”). Furthermore, it is also stipulated that the Prime Minister should take such action as issue instructions on evacuation and indoor sheltering to the mayors or governors of the relevant municipalities and prefectures.
In fact, however, the Declaration was announced at sometime after 19:00, more than two hours after the Article 15 notification had been received. Why was that?
Since the main membership of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters had been prescribed in advance by law (Act on Special Measures, Article 17), it was not because there was a delay in selecting the members. In addition, since the actual Declaration made no mention of “zones where emergency response measures should be implemented,” it was not that the delay was caused by determination of the scope within which emergency response measures were to be implemented. So, what was the hesitation in the delay of the announcement all about?
Naturally, since everyone was rushing about responding to the earthquake and tsunami, one possible explanation is that there was simply no time to issue the Declaration. However, with just that eventuality in mind, the Act on Special Measures calls for an “automatic” response that allows no margin for rumination.
Even today, the reason for the delay has not been made clear. What we know is that in the process of announcing the Declaration TEPCO and the government brought about delays of one hour and two hours, respectively. The “unlawful handling of the nuclear power plant accident” began as a continuation from this point onwards.
“Derailment” due to double standard
In contrast to the Basic Act on Disaster Control Measures, a general law, the Act on Special Measures is a special law that takes the stance of the precautionary principle by containing provisions that handle some matters in advance if there is a “probability” of the occurrence of a nuclear accident. The reason is that taking measures after an accident occurs would make it impossible to protect the livelihoods, lives and health of local residents. The “automatic implementation” of the Declaration is adopted for just that reason, but this crucial measure was not carried out according to the rules.
Once “derailment” begins, the next derailment occurs in the cover-up and justification of the first. The Declaration that was announced carries no specification of the announcing body, nor the time of announcement (which is an anomaly for an administrative document), and is written as if it had been automatically announced on receipt of the notification of the station blackout at “16:36.” This chain of derailments was later not limited to cover-ups and falsification of information, but induced a simultaneous, but contradictory, double handling of the situation.
Already on the day of the earthquake disaster, March 11, evacuation buses were arranged in Ohkuma Town by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT), and this was communicated to the General Affairs Department at Ohkuma Town Office sometime after 20:00 that day. At the chief cabinet secretary’s press conference, begun at 19:42, however, it was stated that “At the present time, there is no confirmation of impacts outside the facility due to radioactive materials. Thus, it is not necessary for residents and others present inside the relevant zones to take any immediate special action now. Please stand by in your homes or in your current location and act according to latest information from the administrative disaster prevention wireless, television, radio and so on, without beginning to evacuate in a hurried manner” (Office of the Prime Minister website). In the evening of March 12, at Tsushima, Namie Town, it is reported that people wearing “full protective clothing and gas masks of a kind never seen before” were encouraging people to evacuate by yelling out, “Please get out of here! You are in danger!” (Owada, T., Kitazawa, T., (ed.) Nuclear Refugees: Shrieking Notes, Akashi Shoten).
Despite clear knowledge of a large-scale release of radioactive materials, the government issued a contradictory press release that emphasized the “soundness of the nuclear reactor.” A local newspaper reported that “The government Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters has stated that ‘it is unlikely that serious damage has occurred to the containment vessels’” (Fukushima Minpo, March 17, 2011).
Fudging safety standards
At the accident site, safety standards were altered in a haphazard manner. These, however, were not changes based on laws or regulations, but literally case-by-case changes made to fit local convenience. For instance, the decontamination “screening level” for residents in the affected area was raised from 13,000 cpm (counts per minute) to 100,000 cpm. Since this standard is linked to the standard for taking iodine tablets, the alteration had the effect of dramatically reducing the number of people who need to take the tablets. Relaxation of the safety standards eliminated the necessity itself of making accident responses. “Experts” gave their approval to this.
Very early on the decision was made that when serious contamination was confirmed, the evacuation zones and those to be evacuated were not to be expanded, but the safety standards relaxed to give an underestimation. It was the people at the accident site who shouldered the risks.
This is how the responses to the nuclear accident cleaved into the “window-dressing scenario” that attempted to underestimate the damage and suffering, and the dire “back-room scenario” at the accident site. This signified the fact that the various types of safety standards that were established before the nuclear accident to protect people’s lives and health were relegated to the “back-room scenario,” and underestimation of the accident became the “window-dressing scenario.”
The actual responses, having issued the Declaration, were such as to explain the “current exposure situation,” and the “front” and “back” scenarios have continued to meander in confusion to this day. In addition, in contaminated areas, 20 mSv/y (millisievert per year) was set as the new standard for the public exposure dose limit, while in other areas it was maintained at the previous 1 mSv/y. This double standard has also become the norm. The doubt arises as to what the pre-accident standard meant.
In the midst of this confusion there arose the “custom” of not keeping minutes even at meetings where important decisions were taken. This is a topic that is also continuing to this day, as everyone knows. Hide anything inconvenient; if it gets out, evade responsibility; falsify information, etc., etc. If this is the premise we are to go on, then it would be no surprise if someone said that minutes were meaningless in the first place.
The derailment that began from the March 11 point of departure continued to expand in scale across all sectors. Take, for instance, the Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, the security-related legislation and clauses on emergency responses, the Okinawa base construction and the issue of interference in local government, and so on; it is necessary to understand these as a “series of events flowing” (towards collapse) along a line extrapolated out from the original derailment.
What was “completely under control”? (1)
Looking back in this way, what was under control was not the radioactive material or the contaminated water, and certainly not the nuclear reactors involved in the accident, but the media and information, the views of “experts,” and the actions of the residents in the affected areas.
Despite the “emergency,” large numbers of residents not evacuated from the contaminated areas were forced to continue their daily lives without any panic occurring and with no ostensible opposition movement arising. One can only say that it was absolutely “brilliant.”
What probably made this rare feat possible was the daily exercise of “risk management.” In the context of media control, for example, under the regional electric power monopoly (which granted ten privately-owned regional power companies a monopoly on power supply in each region), which was in place from 1931 until last year (2016), we can discern the reason why the power companies shouldered huge advertising costs to continually bombard the public with unnecessary commercials. It was “insurance” against just such a crisis as we have now. This “media countermeasure cost” was also included in the “overall costs” as one of the items passed on to the power users, but with this mechanism being set up in 1931, advertising on this basis has a long history.
More importantly, many Japanese people swallowed whole the information given out by the government and “experts” without any doubts. This is also a blessing ensuing from long years of “education.” In studying for entrance exams, conducted on the principle that for each question there is only one correct answer, what you end up with is people who think that “in a crisis, we are assisted by the correct and uniform information that the government provides.” There is also a long history of various forms of favored treatment for the research carried out by “experts.”
In contrast, social pressure not to cause a panic probably generates a normality bias. Indeed, the “safety declaration” issued by the administration was precisely the “words we want to hear,” “the required response” for the local residents that wanted to believe it. In this sense, also, these psy chological mechanisms were nothing more than a normality bias.
At the time of a tsunami or other such event, this normality bias will magnify the damage and suffering by suppressing the sense of crisis, but for the stratum that wishes to control people’s behavior, it is desirable that the people are “rational” human beings who act with “composure.” The fact that elementary schoolchildren were made to sit in a  schoolyard for a headcount in the face of an oncoming tsunami (2) is symbolic of this kind of society.  The fable of Chumon no Ooi Ryoriten (The Restaurant of Many Orders) was written by Kenji Miyazawa a century ago, but contains warnings about this kind of social atmosphere that are valid even now.
The Anti-nuke movement
At first glance, the administration’s and media’s responses – the window-dressing responses mentioned above – that began with the 3/11 “derailment” appear to have been abrupt phenomena brought about by the occurrence of a huge and unprecedented accident. As we have seen above, however, isn’t it more likely that they were the “prefabricated” responses to an accident that was waiting to happen? In other words, it was perhaps true to say that the two kinds of responses were already built into the preparations themselves.
The larger the accident, the greater will be the responsibility associated with it. In the case of nuclear power, therefore, there would have been the necessity to create a mechanism for “evading responsibility” in order not to expose errors in national policy.
At the time of an investigation of a nuclear accident, the actual knowledge of and an inquest on the process of preparation of these kinds of responses (which are, unfortunately, the “window-dressing responses”) is essential. Although it doesn’t bear thinking about, without knowing how the “responses” that sacrificed the residents of the affected areas and exposed their lives and health to critical risks, the ultimate significance of the nuclear accident may never become clear. This is the way the author (Arakida) perceives the situation now, at the beginning of 2017.
3/11 brought us the end of “a society which protects local residents at the time of an accident.” It was already nothing more than a “public position” anyway, but this abandonment of society became clearly apparent in the attitude of those in power. Thus, the manifestation of the “big bang” was perhaps the opening of Pandora’s box. The author’s conclusion is that the “three-hour blank” was the time it took to make the decision to turn the rudder in that direction. I have said earlier that the notion of “not protecting local residents at the time of an accident” is not simply an issue of the nuclear accident and local residents. The proof of this is amply illustrated by the example of the sole application of the provisions of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution being brought to the brink of death by the security-related legislation, symbolized by the clauses on emergency responses. Thus, the issue of the nuclear accident was not simply an issue of the nuclear accident alone.
At present, with the true intentions and undisguised violence of power holders taking society by storm, this is not the time for a restoration of the “public position.”
The nuclear phase out/anti-nuke movement has been accorded new meaning after 311: The regeneration of the world we live in. I believe that from now on it will be necessary to conduct our activities with our eyes on the horizon of the “building of a new world” beyond the issues of nuclear restarts and local consent.
<Takeru Arakida, Associate Professor, Faculty of Administration and Social Scientists, Fukushima University>
( 1) Prime Minister Abe used the phrase “completely under control,” (referring to Fukushima Daiichi) in his address to the International Olympic Committee in September 2013 when urging them to select Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.
(2) This refers to Okawa Elementary School in Miyagi Prefecture, where 74 children and 10 staff lost their lives, failing to evacuate the school before the tsunami engulfed them.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beyond nuclear power: Japan’s smart energy communities mushroom

Japanese government policy is explicitly committed to restructuring the geography of the energy economy.

February 7, 2017

Recent commentary on Japan’s energy policies seems stuck in an outmoded narrative of government, particularly “pro-nuclear” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, depicted as singularly bent on restarting nuclear plant and building coal-fired power stations.

The discussion suggests Japan’s central government is little changed by the country’s March 11, 2011, natural and nuclear disasters.  However, what’s being missed in this narrative is the hundreds of districts across Japan that are building local distributed energy systems that maximize efficiency and use of local renewable-energy resources.

To be sure, Japan’s energy policy includes nuclear restarts, but in a dramatically downsized fleet compared to what was operating and planned prior to the disaster in what is known as 3/11 in Japan.  And any restarts are likely to come at the expense of coal and other fossil fuels rather than renewables and efficiency.

More importantly, Japanese government policy is explicitly committed to restructuring the geography of the energy economy through a rapidly expanding program of “smart communities.”  Other evidence suggests Japan’s post-3/11 energy and environmental governance is much more engaged with renewable energy than the dominant narrative holds.

Let’s start with the so-called “Higashi-Matsushima City Smart Disaster Prevention Eco Town” and then turn to the institutional context that fostered it and other similar cases.

Overview of Higashi-Matsushima CityOverview of Higashi-Matsushima CitySource: Japan Future City Initiative

Higashi-Matsushima City on the north-east coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu had a population prior to 3/11 of 43,142.  More than 1,130 residents died in the disaster, which saw 65% of the city inundated by the sea.  As described by Nikkei BP Clean Tech Institute’s Kenji Kaneko, the disaster led to the official opening of Japan’s first microgrid-based smart community on June 12, 2016.  The microgrid allows the community’s power network to “island” from the regional power grid in the event of a disaster.

Higashi-Matsushima’s renewable generation assets, complete with battery storage, are linked through the microgrid.  Even in a protracted disaster, this system will provide power to critical-care facilities and others.

Higashi-Matsushima Disaster-Ready Smart Eco-Town
Source: Sekisui House, CSV Strategies, 2016, p 25:

Higashi-Matsushima’s project is not the product of top-down, cookie-cutter policymaking.  The driver of this citizen-centred city management is Mayor Hideo Abe who has led a bottom-up rebuild with the ambition of energy autonomy.

City residents are fully in support, having direct experience of the death and prolonged suffering that results when critical infrastructure fails. The residents, local businesses and other stakeholders are organized in the “Higashi-Matsushima Organization for Progress and Economy, Education and Energy (HOPE),” which was inaugurated as a company on October 1, 2012.

In a January 2017 Japanese book on Community Energy, Yomiuri Newspaper environmental journalist Hiroko Kono investigates both the extensive community engagement and the crucial role of the central government in Higashi-Matsushima and other cases.

Kono’s research reveals that Japan’s Ministry of the Environment recognized Higashi-Matsushima’s local capacity and suggested city officers apply for a distributed energy subsidy. The city got the funds, and was able to use them along with other investment to cover 75% of the 500 billion yen cost of the eco-town’s power system.

Renewable Energy in Higashi-Matsushima City, 2011-2015

Renewable Energy in Higashi-Matsushima City, 2011-2015Source: Japan, Ministry of the Environment, October 6, 2016, p. 11:

The town’s 460 kilowatts of solar is just part of the story. As shown above, the deployment of renewable energy in Higashi-Matsushima as a whole multiplied by nearly 20 times between 2011 and 2015, rising to 35% of the city’s power consumption. The city aims at a lofty 120% target by 2026, and might actually come near it.

Moreover, in April last year the City began operating a local power company, “HOPE Electricity.”  HOPE Electricity’s power sales are expected to reap a 10 million yen profit to be reinvested in the local community.

Japanese Smart Communities and Disaster Resilience

Japanese Smart Communities and Disaster ResilienceSource: Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, Kanto Economy and Industry Bureau, June 16, 2016.

Higashi-Matsushima’s microgrid is one example of hundreds of smart energy management systems being deployed in Japan’s residential districts, industrial clusters, roadside stations, and other areas designated for disaster-resilience and local revitalization.

The projects stress strong stakeholder engagement and are a focal point for Japan’s robust and integrated policies for disaster-resilience, local revitalization, compact cities, and the deployment of alternative energy.

And the Japanese public is on-board.  The country’s strongest consensus for anything related to energy and the environment is the 77.8% support for use of public funds to build resilience in the face of climate change, the Environmental Consciousness Survey released in September by the National Institute for Environmental Studies shows.

Japan’s diffusion of smart communities is accelerating as green technology and collaborative governance gel in the face of climate change, energy insecurity and the search for local sustainability.

For example, at a January 27 symposium the expansion of fiscal and regulatory support for decarbonizing smart communities was described in detail, along with the strategy to link these discrete smart-community districts into regional smart-city systems.

These energy and related policy developments in Japan have attracted the attention of the OECD.

The OECD’s 2016 Territorial Review of Japan says that Japan’s 2015 strategy on smart communities was developed through an “intensive exercise in inter-ministerial coordination and consultations extending beyond the government itself.”

The lessons of Japan’s smart communities is they are built around central policies that work in concert with local governments, large and small businesses, academe, and civil society.  This point on collaboration is stressed by policymakers in convincing detail.

Budgets and other hard evidence indicate that this year will see Japan ramp up its deployment of advanced and decarbonizing technology through this networked governance. So perhaps it’s time to rethink the stereotype of the Japanese state, and pay closer attention to the mushrooming of its smart communities and renewable energy industrial policy.

Andrew DeWit is a professor at the School of Economic Policy Studies
in Rikkyo University, Tokyo.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Power Producers Oppose Legislation Helping Millstone Nuclear Plant but only for fossil fuel not renewables?

Stephen Singer 6th Feb 2017

Power producers are set to announce Tuesday their opposition to legislation that would guarantee markets for the Millstone nuclear plant, calling it special treatment for one energy source in Connecticut.

Legislation has yet to be drafted, but it could follow a measure that failed last year, proposing to boost Millstone’s access to electricity markets. The General Assembly’s energy and technology committee has scheduled a public hearing Tuesday.

Calpine Corp., Dynegy, NRG Energy and the Electric Power Supply Association say state assistance to Millstone could drive up energy costs for businesses and residents. The companies and trade association say the legislature should require Dominion Resources Inc., Millstone’s parent company, to make public its financial records to prove it needs a change in state law.

“This legislation would carve out a significant part of the market in the region for one company under different terms than anything we could hope for,” said John E. Shelk, president and chief executive officer of the Electric Power Supply Association.

Thomas F. Farrell II, chief executive officer of Dominion, told investor analysts on a conference call to discuss fourth-quarter earnings last week that power prices have been “under some pressure.”

Referring to the possibility of favorable legislation, Dominion is “hopeful that things will improve there,” he said.

Shelk said Farrell’s comment is an admission that “this is all about the drag Millstone is having on the corporate parent.”

“The Connecticut legislature has proposed a competitive process to reduce retail electric rates only if state energy officials determine it is in ratepayers’ best interests,” Dominion spokesman Kevin Hennessy said.

Several nuclear plants around the country, unable to compete with low natural gas prices, have shut. Rep. Lonnie Reed, the House chairwoman of the legislature’s energy and technology committee, has said legislation helping Millstone in Waterford would preserve a valuable asset.

“There was a trend and a very distressing trend,” Reed, D-Branford, said at a public hearing last month.

The plan that failed last year would have allowed nuclear energy to participate in a competitive purchase of renewable or low-carbon electric power in a process administered by the state. If Millstone were to be selected, it would be guaranteed a market as natural gas prices decline.

Dan Weekley, vice president of corporate affairs at Dominion, rejected a proposal that the company’s financial records be opened for public inspection, saying any information would be irrelevant.

“What is in the customers’ and the ultimate ratepayers’ best interests?” he asked at the public hearing. “What is the best price for consumers?”

AARP Connecticut said it also will oppose Millstone legislation. A legislative proposal could reclassify power generated by the plant as renewable fuel, allowing Dominion to undercut the cost of other renewable fuels and receive a higher price for its power, AARP said.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

‘We need to get it cleaned up:’ officials to pursue Hanford funding in D.C.

By Galen Ettlin. Published Monday, February 6th, 2017

Video and pictures on source link;

Local officials are headed to Washington, D.C. at the end of February to vie for Hanford funding under the Trump Administration.

“It’s such a huge effort,” says Alex Smith, referring to the cleanup of nuclear waste left just north of Richland. “It has to go to a deep national repository.”

Smith joined the Department of Ecology as program manager at the Richland Nuclear Waste Office in April, bringing with her years of legal experience from the Attorney General’s office handling Hanford issues.

She is one of several local officials and experts going to Washington, D.C. to advocate for continued funding and cleanup of the site.

“It’s not like it’s going to take a decade or two to happen,” says Smith. “It’s multi-generational, so the hard part is just keeping the momentum going over such a long period of time.”

According to Smith, while the new presidency raises questions about Hanford’s future, the budget is almost always stable and given a lot of funding. The next steps are ironing out the details and reiterating the site’s needs.

“We need to get it cleaned up,” asserts Gary Petersen with the Tri-City Development Council.

Petersen has been in the fight for a long time, even joining state attorney general Bob Ferguson and Lampson International president Bill Lampson in a federal lawsuit to get the waste moving out of Washington.

“The Hanford site has the highest concentration off nuclear waste materials of any place in the United States,” he explains.

Petersen’s suggestion – send the waste to storage in Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

“Yucca Mountain is the law of the land passed by the Nuclear Rights Policy Act of 1982,” says Petersen. “Documents…showed Yucca Mountain would be safe for storage of nuclear waste for one million years.”

However, the project was halted under the Obama Administration because of Nevada’s pushback. To date, Petersen says it has likely cost $15 billion.

Now that congress is controlled by the GOP, Petersen is optimistic the Yucca Mountain plan can move ahead.

Meanwhile, nuclear waste nationwide continues to sit where it is.

“We end up leaving all that spent fuel and nuclear waste all the way across the country in 144 different locations,” he says. “And worse, we have all of the operating working nuclear reactors, most of them alongside our rivers and oceans and so on.”

In a letter to the president (pictured below), state representatives say 54.6 million gallons of that waste sit in tanks at Hanford.

“The good thing about the tank farm is that they’re right in the middle of the site, and they are 250 feet above the ground water level,” says Smith. “But that said, over a million gallons have already leaked from those tanks. And the tanks are not getting any younger, they just continue to degrade over time.”

In addition to the presidential letter sent by a dozen Washington state representatives, officials continue to push government agencies to keep Hanford cleanup in mind. Senator Maria Cantwell is a big proponent of this, pushing the issue during energy secretary nominee Rick Perry’s vetting process.

“I am committed to working with you to prioritize one of the most dangerous, most polluted sites that we have in this country,” Perry responded.

Construction of the vitrification plant to convert liquid waste into glass is already underway at Hanford, but without Yucca Mountain’s storage guaranteed, officials say the big question remains: what happens to the waste next?

“There’s no immediate concern,” says Smith. “But there is some sense of urgency around getting the waste out of those tanks before they degrade and we get additional leaks. We want to make sure we’re protecting the Columbia River.”

And as Smith says, she’s ready to take on the task.

“It’s a lot of really hard challenges, and a chance to interact with the community and make a difference.”


The trip by local officials to D.C. will last from February 23-24. Afterward, members will bring back their findings and present their experiences to local city councils.

The letter to President Donald Trump by Washington State officials is below:


February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Pakistan wants India’s entire nuke programme under IAEA safeguards

Pakistan wants India to bring its entire civilian nuclear programme under the safeguards laid out by the International Atomic Energy Commission, the Director-General Disarmament at the Foreign Office said on Monday.

“It is incumbent on us to stand up for our own interest. We want an assurance that India’s whole three stage nuclear power programme would be under safeguards,” DG Disarmament at Foreign Office Kamran Akhtar was quoted as saying by Dawn.

Akhtar was speaking at a round-table discussion in Islamabad on Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT), organised to prepare for the upcoming Conference on Disarmament (CD).

Experienced FMCT experts also participated in the meeting. Pakistan will not agree to FMCT until it gets the assurance from India, he said.

He said negotiating a treaty that only bans future production of fissile material without taking into account the existing stockpiles would freeze “the existing asymmetries”.

The DG Disarmament was of the opinion that India has been given “discriminatory waivers”, which add to Pakistan’s security concerns, the report said.

He said eight of the Indian reactors, its fast breeder programme and approximately five tonnes of reactor-grade plutonium were included in the safeguards of dictated by the IAEA.

The FMCT would put Pakistan at a permanent disadvantage and undermine its security interests, Akhtar added.

There is a fear that the reactors not mandated by the safeguards might be used clandestinely for plutonium production and the existing stockpiles might be diverted to a military programme at a subsequent stage, the DG said.

He further said, “Pakistan should not be asked to agree to something that is not in its strategic interest.” “We have to factor into consideration possible actions by India that could undermine credibility of our nuclear deterrence,” he added.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Buddhist Leader’s Annual Peace Proposal Stresses Power of Youth in Building Global Solidarity

Calls on Civil Society to Play Active Role in Nuclear Disarmament Talks

Daisaku Ikeda, president of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) Buddhist association, issued his 35th annual peace proposal titled “The Global Solidarity of Youth: Ushering in a New Era of Hope” on January 26, 2017.

While acknowledging numerous global challenges from armed conflict to the refugee crisis, Ikeda rejects pessimism, citing his faith in young people who embody hope and can catalyze chain reactions of positive change in their communities. He states: “Young people and their energetic engagement represent the solution to the global challenges we face.”

He also sees youth as the key to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations toward 2030. He emphasizes that globally shared action, as seen in recent efforts to fight climate change, is essential in promoting these goals.

Ikeda expresses concern about divisive rhetoric and the growth of hate speech, commenting that xenophobic thinking is propelled by a stark division of the world into good and evil. He echoes former German President Richard von Weizsacker, who described the Berlin Wall as “the politics that deny humanity made into stone,” and stresses that we must never allow this kind of division to occur again.

Ikeda discusses the bodhisattva spirit stressed in Mahayana Buddhism as one means of developing a spiritual foundation for building solidarity, describing the bodhisattva as someone motivated by the spirit of empathy to respond to grave social crises, wherever they are and whether or not they are directly impacted.

He discusses the importance of education for global citizenship and calls for fostering a culture of peace through expanding friendship that transcends ethnic and religious differences. He is confident that bonds of friendship among youth can be powerful enough to turn back the “sullied currents of divisiveness” and give birth to a culture of peace rooted in respect for diversity.

Addressing the problem of nuclear weapons, Ikeda urges that the leaders of the United States and Russia, which together possess more than 90% of the world’s nuclear arsenal, hold a summit meeting at the earliest opportunity to establish a global trend toward nuclear disarmament.

He stresses the significance of a call for the abolition of nuclear weapons issued by his mentor, second Soka Gakkai president Josei Toda, 60 years ago in 1957. Toda sought to reveal the illusory nature of nuclear deterrence and forcefully stated that the use of nuclear weapons can never be justified.

Ikeda welcomes the adoption of a UN General Assembly resolution last year mandating the start of negotiations for a treaty that will prohibit nuclear weapons. Recognizing the difficulty of convincing nuclear-weapon states to participate in these negotiations, slated for March and June 2017, he stresses that Japan, as the only country to have experienced nuclear bombings in war, has a moral responsibility to work to gain the participation of as many states as possible.

He urges that the establishment of such a legal instrument be a global enterprise with the goal of preventing the horrors of nuclear war from ever being visited upon any country, and emphasizes that this initiative is fully congruent with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and its Article VI that requires each state party to pursue good faith negotiations toward complete nuclear disarmament.

Ikeda emphasizes that the actions of civil society during the negotiation process will help build momentum toward the treaty being a form of “people-driven international law.”

Regarding the needs of refugees and the countries, mainly in the developing world, that host them, he suggests that the UN take the initiative in developing a new aid architecture that creates better coordination between emergency assistance and development work: a partnership for solving humanitarian challenges and protecting human dignity. This could include vocational training to enable forcibly displaced persons to work in fields that contribute to enhancing resilience and promote the achievement of the SDGs in the host communities.

Ikeda concludes his annual proposal by calling for increased efforts to build a culture of human rights. He suggests activities promoting human rights education to mark the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 2018, and expresses high expectations for a new human rights exhibition to be launched during the convening of the Human Rights Council in February and March, which the SGI is creating together with other groups.

Daisaku Ikeda

He stresses the need to promote gender equality to end all forms of discrimination, stating that gender equality is vital to opening the path for all people to bring forth the light of their inner dignity and humanity in a way true to their own unique self.

Finally, Ikeda reconfirms the commitment of the members of the SGI, centered on youth, to work toward creating a global society where no one is left behind.

Daisaku Ikeda has issued proposals to the international community addressing global issues every year since 1983. Philosopher, author and peacebuilder, he has been president of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist association since 1975. His annual peace proposals are issued on January 26 to commemorate the founding of the SGI. See The full proposal in English will be available on February 16.

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Zuma must dismantle nuke plans in South Africa

SCRAPPING the nuclear energy plan is the single most important announcement that President Jacob Zuma can make in his State of the Nation address, and anything less than its complete dismantling will be a monumental failure of the president’s duty and responsibility to South Africans.

This is the view of former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and elder statesman Njongonkulu Ndungane, ahead of the delivery of the address in Parliament this week.

“We are very quickly and surely sliding towards a future of nuclear energy. I call on all citizens to become fully informed about the insidious process that is unfolding under our noses, and raise their voices in protest against the government’s nuclear energy plan,” the archbishop said.

One of the most fundamental problems with the nuclear energy plan, says Ndungane, is its unaffordability.

“The price tag is estimated at R1 trillion for setting up of the plants. Our current debt stands at R1.89 trillion. When we borrow money to pay for the nuclear deal, our country will owe R3 trillion – an increase of more than 50%! Anyone with the most basic ability to balance a budget can see that increasing one’s debt by more than half is financial suicide,” the archbishop said.

Ndungane said the nuclear procurement process had been mired in obfuscation for at least the past three years since the then-minister of energy signed the determination to procure nuclear energy in November 2013.

However, the country was only informed of this in December 2015 – more than two years after the minister gave the go-ahead with his signature.

Archbishop Ndungane quoted South African energy expert Chris Yelland on the costs of the various types of energy: “Yelland has calculated that new wind, solar PV and gas will cost R1.00/kW. New coal energy will cost between R1.05 and R1.19/kW. New nuclear energy will cost between R1.30 and R1.52/kW. It’s a no-brainer!”

Ndungane was also critical of Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s apparent disregard of her own advisers, whose report was made public in December at the IRP public hearings.

The minister’s advisers said: “A least-cost IRP model, free of any artificial constraints and before any policy adjustments, does not include any nuclear power generators. The optimal least cost mix is one of solar PV, wind and flexible power generators.”

He added: “What is the point of appointing a panel of experts if you are going to ignore them?”

The archbishop said the decision late last year to give the procurement of the nuclear new build to Eskom was further evidence of the cynicism of the current government.

“As a company with its own board, Eskom requires no mandate and no consultation from the state or the public to carry out its business and the spending of public funds – this for the largest procurement deal that South Africa has seen since the advent of democracy! This cannot be good governance,” he said.

According to the South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), the Department of Energy’s base case for nuclear makes a number of nuclear-friendly assumptions and has an almost linear focus on nuclear.

SAFCEI adds that there is “absolutely no evidence” that government investigated renewables and no comparable costs were provided for other energy choices.

Ndungane adds that the country is already seeing the impact of Eskom’s decision last year to sign no further agreements to purchase renewal energy from independent power producers.

“I am appalled at this glitch in our efforts to promote renewable energy, which has frequently been touted as a shining example of government’s industrialisation programme,” he said.

Ruth Coggin

February 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment