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Six years after Fukushima nuclear disaster, residents trickle back to deserted towns

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Tamotsu Baba, mayor of Namie town, speaks during an interview with Reuters at his office in the town’s temporary town office in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima prefecture, Japan, February 27, 2017.

 

NAMIE, Fukushima Workers repair a damaged home nearby, and about 60 employees busily prepare for the return of former residents in the largely untouched town hall. Not far away, two wild boars stick their snouts in someone’s yard, snuffling for food.

Signs of life are returning nearly six years after panicked residents fled radiation spewed by the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, when it was struck by an earthquake and tsunami.

Still, only several hundred of the original 21,500 residents plan to return in the first wave, estimates Hidezo Sato, a former seed merchant who helped draw up a blueprint to rebuild the town.

“As a person who used to sell seeds for a living, I believe now is a time to sow seeds” for rebuilding, said Sato, 71. “Harvesting is far away. But I hope I can manage to help bring about fruition.”

For a graphic on Fukushima returnees, click here tmsnrt.rs/2lv77E6

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Since November, people who registered have been allowed to spend nights in the town, but residents will not need permission to stay round the clock after Japan lifts evacuation orders for parts of Namie and three other towns at the end of March.

Just 4 km (2.5 miles) away from the wrecked plant, Namie is the closest area cleared for the return of residents since the disaster of March 11, 2011.

But the town will never be the same, as radiation contamination has left a big area off limits. And it may never be inhabitable.

More than half – 53 percent – of former residents have decided not to return, a government poll showed last September. They cited concerns over radiation and the safety of the nuclear plant, which is being dismantled in an arduous, 40-year effort.

OLD FOLKS

More than three-quarters of those aged 29 or less do not intend to return, which means old people could form the bulk of the town’s population in a future largely devoid of children.

“Young people will not go back,” said Yasuo Fujita, a former Namie resident who runs a restaurant in Tokyo, the capital. “There will neither be jobs nor education for children.”

Fujita said he did not want to live near a possible storage site for contaminated soil, now being systematically removed.

Radiation levels at Namie town hall stood at 0.07 microsieverts per hour on Feb. 28, little different from the rest of Japan.

But in the nearby town of Tomioka, a dosimeter read 1.48 microsieverts an hour, nearly 30 times higher than in downtown Tokyo, underscoring lingering radiation hotspots.

For the towns’ evacuation orders to be lifted, radiation must fall below 20 millisieverts per year. They must also have functioning utilities and telecoms systems, besides basic health, elderly care and postal services.

HUNTING BOAR

Namie, which used to have six grade schools and three middle schools, plans to eventually open a joint elementary-junior high school. So children will need to commute to schools elsewhere initially.

A hospital opens later this month, staffed with one full-time and several part-time doctors.

Reconstruction efforts may create some jobs. The town’s mayor, Tamotsu Baba, hopes to draw research and robotics firms.

Prospects for business are not exactly bright in the short term, but lumber company president Munehiro Asada said he restarted his factory in the town to help drive its recovery.

“Sales barely reach a tenth of what they used to be,” he said. “But running the factory is my priority. If no one returns, the town will just disappear.”

Shoichiro Sakamoto, 69, has an unusual job: hunting wild boars encroaching on residential areas in nearby Tomioka. His 13-man squad catches the animals in a trap before finishing them off with air rifles.

“Wild boars in this town are not scared of people these days,” he said. “They stare squarely at us as if saying, ‘What in the world are you doing?’ It’s like our town has fallen under wild boars’ control.”

Some former Namie residents say the evacuation orders should remain until radiation levels recede and the dismantling of the ruined nuclear plant has advanced.

But it is now or never for his town, Mayor Baba believes.

“Six long years have passed. If the evacuation is prolonged further, people’s hearts will snap,” he said. “The town could go completely out of existence.”

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-fukushima-returnees-idUSKBN16F083

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | 2 Comments

Town mayor gives nod to restart Genkai nuclear plant in Saga Pref.

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The Genkai Nuclear Power Plant is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in Genkai, Saga Prefecture

SAGA, Japan (Kyodo) — A mayor in southwestern Japan approved a plan Tuesday to restart two nuclear reactors in his town, a step toward the resumption of a third atomic power plant in Japan since the 2011 Fukushima disaster.

“While taking the assembly’s approval seriously, I decided to accept the government’s policy,” Hideo Kishimoto, the mayor of Genkai in Saga Prefecture, told a press conference.

Now the restart of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Genkai plant operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co. depends on consent by seven other municipalities within a 30-kilometer radius of the plant amid lingering safety concerns about nuclear power plants.

The Japanese government is pushing for reactors to be restarted as nuclear power is regarded as a key energy source even after the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the days after a massive earthquake and tsunami struck northeastern Japan.

The Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the Genkai plant passed in January tougher safety requirements introduced in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. A majority of the town assembly members voted in favor of the restart on Feb. 24.

Kishimoto told Saga Gov. Yoshinori Yamaguchi and Kyushu Electric Power President Michiaki Uriu of his approval Tuesday by phone.

The Saga governor will make a judgment on the matter after hearing from all mayors in the prefecture at a meeting March 18.

All four reactors at the Genkai plant had halted operations by December 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe. Kyushu Electric decided to decommission the aging No. 1 reactor.

Of Japan’s 45 commercial reactors nationwide as of Tuesday, only three are now operating — the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, and the No. 3 reactor at Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant in Ehime Prefecture, western Japan, according to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170307/p2g/00m/0dm/080000c

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Financial crunch time looms for Fukushima’s ‘voluntary evacuees’

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People march through the city of Fukushima in December to protest the impending end of housing subsidies for those who fled the nuclear disaster from areas other than the government-designated evacuation zones.

This month, housing subsidies run out for those who fled the Fukushima nuclear disaster from areas other than the government-designated evacuation zones, and as the clock ticks down, evacuees have had to decide whether to return or move once again.

Many of these so-called voluntary evacuees are mothers seeking to avoid risking their children’s health while their husbands remain in radiation-hit Fukushima Prefecture, according to freelance journalist Chia Yoshida.

This is why the term “voluntary evacuee” is misleading, as it gives the impression that they fled Fukushima for selfish reasons, Yoshida told a news conference in January in Tokyo.

At the same news conference, another journalist proposed using the term “domestic refugee” to describe them.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government has been paying the cost of public and private housing for voluntary evacuees under the Disaster Relief Act since the reactors melted down at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The number of evacuees from the disaster, including those from mandatory evacuation areas, peaked at 164,865 as of May 2012, according to the prefectural government.

Its latest tally, conducted earlier this year, shows that 11,321 out of the 12,239 voluntary evacuee households had already decided where to live after April, while 250 had not.

It was back in June 2015 when Fukushima announced the plan to end the rent subsidy this month, saying that decontamination work in the prefecture had advanced and food safety had been achieved.

Still, the central government’s evacuation orders have not been lifted in “difficult-to-return zones,” which include the towns of Futaba and Okuma, home to the crippled nuclear facility.

Those no-entry areas are subject to radiation of over 50 millisieverts per year, compared with the government’s long-term annual target of less than 1 millisievert after decontamination work.

Rika Mashiko, 46, is a voluntary evacuee living in Tokyo. She has decided to rent a house near the Fukushima-paid apartment where she and her daughter, now in elementary school, are currently living so that her daughter will not miss her friends.

Mashiko and her daughter fled Fukushima about two months after the nuclear crisis started, leaving behind her husband in their house in Miharu, located in the center of the prefecture.

Mashiko said many women evacuated from Fukushima with their children, compelled by their instinct as mothers to avoid danger.

Maybe nothing might have happened, but if it had, it would have been too late,” she said.

Mashiko, who first moved to a house in Higashiyamato in eastern Tokyo that was leased for free, said mothers like her who fled the nuclear disaster feel they shouldn’t have to pay their housing costs and are angry at being “victims of the state’s nuclear policy.”

Many voluntary evacuees are financially struggling as they have to cover the double living costs in their hometowns, where typically the fathers remain, and the new places where the mothers and children moved.

In that sense, the free housing has been a “lifeline” for them, particularly in the Tokyo metropolitan area where housing costs are high, according to journalist Yoshida.

In an attempt to extend support to those families, Makoto Yamada, a veteran pediatrician in Tokyo, established a fund with ¥3 million out of his own pocket to help them rent new houses, for example by covering the deposit.

The initiative was the latest example of the support he has been providing to evacuees. Three months after the disaster, he held a counseling session in the city of Fukushima that attracted some 400 people concerned about radiation exposure. He has continued to hold similar sessions in Tokyo.

Yamada, 75, says poor understanding of the plight of voluntary evacuees has also played a role in bullying cases involving evacuee children that have been reported across Japan since last year.

In one high-profile case, a first-year junior high school student in Yokohama was called a “germ” at school, in reference to his supposed exposure to radiation.

Society appears to generally feel that voluntary evacuees have received a lot of money on top of the one-time compensation payment made by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of Fukushima No. 1.

Yamada says if people understood that voluntary evacuees had no wish to leave but felt they had to, such bullying would disappear.

The first financial support from Yamada’s fund went to 10 mothers and their children on Jan. 15. He was surprised to see the recipients shed tears of joy upon receiving ¥200,000 or ¥300,000 each.

Yamada said the government has tried to reduce the number of evacuees from Fukushima in order to claim that their ranks have decreased and that the disaster has been overcome.

Yoshida echoed that view, describing the voluntary evacuees as “people who will be eliminated from history as the government seeks to trivialize the damage from radiation contamination and say their evacuation was unnecessary.”

As long as there are evacuees living outside Fukushima, they will remain a symbol showing the situation has yet to be solved, Yamada said.

If you say ‘we will not forget about Fukushima,’ you should never forget the terror of radiation, bearing in mind that people will not live in safety as long as nuclear plants exist in the world,” he said. “So, I want to continue to think about the evacuees.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/07/national/social-issues/financial-crunch-time-looms-fukushimas-voluntary-evacuees/

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Survey: Fewer evacuees want to return to Fukushima

 

A Japanese government survey shows that fewer people who fled the 2011 nuclear accident want to return to their hometowns in Fukushima Prefecture. Many younger people are reluctant to go back.

The Reconstruction Agency and other institutions conduct an annual survey of the residents of areas where an evacuation order remains in place. The fiscal 2016 survey covered 5 municipalities — the towns of Tomioka, Futaba, Namie and Kawamata, and Iitate Village.

Compared with the fiscal 2014 survey, the number of people who do not wish to return increased in all 5 municipalities.

In Futaba, the number rose 6.6 percentage points to 62.3 percent. Tomioka saw an 8.2-point increase at 57.6 percent. The figure for Namie was up 4.2 points, or 52.6 percent. Kawamata saw an increase of 8.5 points, or 31.1 percent. In Iitate, the figure rose 4.3 points, or 30.8 percent.

More than 50 percent of people under the age of 40 in these municipalities said they do not want to go back. Some said they have concerns about the quality of health care services in their hometowns. They also think their lives would be less convenient. Some said they have already settled elsewhere.

The Reconstruction Agency says it will provide a good living environment and create jobs in these areas.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170308_01/

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: The Earthquake Question

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The general view is the Fukushima reactor meltdowns in japan in 2011 were caused by the tsunami that knocked out backup power to the atomic plant. Nuclear engineers say it is not the full story.

Six years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, engineers remain vexed by a key question: What damage did the massive earthquake cause at the atomic plant before it was hit by the subsequent tsunami?

The answer matters because of the potential implications for the earthquake safety standards of other nuclear reactors in Japan, which sits on the seismically unstable Ring of Fire around the Pacific. The area accounts for about 90% of the planet’s earthquakes, with Japan being shaken by 10% of them, according to the US Geological Survey.

Just three out of Japan’s 42 usable reactors are running at present, as operators seek to clear regulatory, safety and legal hurdles and overcome community opposition following the Fukushima calamity. Despite the obstacles, Japan still aims to derive between 20% and 22% of its power from nuclear sources by 2030.

Investigations into the Fukushima accident generally accept that the tsunami knocked out backup power to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. Daiichi plant, causing a failure of cooling equipment and then reactor meltdowns.

However, as much of the site is a radioactive no-go zone, it’s not been possible to investigate effects on the plant from the earthquake itself off Japan’s Pacific Ocean coastline in the afternoon of March 11, 2011. The quake registered a magnitude 9, the largest ever recorded in the country.

 

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A bus driver wearing radiation protective gear rests on the bus during a media tour at TEPCO’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture, November 12, 2014.

The impact of the quake is “still actually a question mark,” Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former nuclear equipment engineer for Hitachi Ltd., said at a press conference in Tokyo.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has said that the quake at 2.46 p.m. cut off power supply, but operators used emergency diesel generators to keep cooling the reactors. These generators in reactor building basements were subsequently disabled by the tsunami.

No earthquake-related damage to key safety facilities “has been confirmed,” Tepco said in its accounts of the accident. It pointed to the tsunami of “unprecedented scale” that hit the coast 50 minutes later to explain the loss of backup power, which thwarted cooling efforts and ultimately led to explosions and the meltdown of three reactors.

The Fukushima disaster is ranked alongside Chernobyl as the world’s worst civilian nuclear accident, according to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.

 

This video shows seismic activity around Japan before, during and after the major earthquake on March 11, 2011. Watch the counter at the top left for the magnitude 9 quake at 2:46 p.m.

Earthquake safety ‘inadequate’

In a briefing at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan a few days ahead of the disaster’s sixth anniversary this year, Tanaka contended that the cause of the station blackout at unit 1 of the Fukushima plant remained unclear.

He also suggested that the piping system that took in seawater for cooling purposes might have been corroded, adding that such pipes were “generally vulnerable to earthquakes.”

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Mitsuhiko Tanaka, a former Hitachi nuclear engineer.

I’m not saying that the earthquake alone caused damage in lieu of the tsunami – the tsunami no doubt had a significant role,” Tanaka said.

But I’m also saying that the anti-seismic design of the power stations was inadequate and I’m also saying that without the tsunami the same accident possibly would have occurred. So even excluding the tsunami, just the earthquake alone could possibly cause a major rupture. I’m stressing that one should not neglect or ignore the issue of the earthquake.”

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A worker wearing a protective suit and mask works on the roof of the No.4 reactor building of Tepco’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture February 20, 2012.

While such comments might appear speculative, Tanaka is in a position to understand a nuclear power station’s vulnerabilities.

He designed reactor pressure vessels for Hitachi, the company that supplied one of the units at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. He conducted stress analysis of the station’s unit 4 reactor pressure vessel and served on the Fukushima accident independent investigation commission set up by the Japanese parliament.

More time

That commission, which had the power to subpoena evidence, differed from other studies by placing a greater emphasis on the potential quake damage. Indeed, its 2012 report said Tepco “was too quick to cite the tsunami as the cause of the nuclear accident and deny that the earthquake caused any damage.”

Naiic Report by Yee Kai Poo on Scribd

https://fr.scribd.com/document/341166435/Naiic-Report#from_embed

The panel, which was also scathing about the lax approach of the then regulators, raised the possibility that the quake damaged equipment necessary for ensuring safety and that a small-scale accident involving a loss of coolant occurred in unit 1.

Looking back at the six-month inquiry, Tanaka said: “It is really quite unfortunate that the investigation committee disbanded without really exposing or explaining much after the accident. Much remains unresolved.”

His view was supported by Masashi Goto, a former designer of reactor containment vessels for Toshiba Corp., who told the same press briefing: “There are many uncertainties still.”

One of the obstacles to finding the truth, investigators cautioned in 2012, was that a lot of the equipment relevant to the accident remained “beyond the reach of inspection or verification”.

That remains a challenge today, as thousands of workers make slow progress on the decommissioning of the plant – a process that is expected to take decades and cost 8 trillion yen ($US70 billion). In addition, 7.9 trillion yen will be spent on compensation from radiation fallout and 5.6 trillion yen on treating and storing contaminated soil, according to latest government estimates.

Push to restart reactors

Meantime the atomic power industry is making slow progress on restarting other reactors in Japan, a situation that calls into question the government’s 2030 target for nuclear power generation.

Takeo Kikkawa, a Tokyo University of Science professor who was a member of the government’s energy mix advisory committee, said achieving the 20% to 22% target would involve “a lot of difficulty.”

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Map of Japan’s nuclear plants.

In a recent speech to the Foreign Press Center Japan, he noted many of the country’s aging nuclear reactors would need to be decommissioned by 2030 if the government stuck with the rule that such closures occur after 40 years of operation.

Tepco, mindful of the huge costs it is incurring at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi plant, wants to restart two reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, which was the world’s largest such facility but suffered damage from a previous earthquake in 2007.

But in a blow to the plans, voters in Niigata prefecture last year elected a governor who, like his predecessor, opposed a restart at Kashiwazaki due to safety concerns.

Just last month, Tepco was ordered to re-submit documents after revealing that its previous assurances about safety measures at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa had been wrong.

Tepco discovered in 2014 that a key building at the site may not be able to withstand even half of the assumed strongest seismic shaking, but this information was not passed on to the regulator, the Asahi newspaper reported.

Tepco’s managing executive officer, Takafumi Anegawa, apologized for the omission, which was blamed on “insufficient” communication within the company rather than a cover-up. A Nuclear Regulation Authority official was quoted as saying the lessons of Fukushima were “not utilized”.

Catastrophic’ implications

Shaun Burnie, a nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, called for a fundamental overhaul of the way the regulator reviews earthquake risks. He praised the engineers who had “spoken out” about the potential pre-tsunami damage at Fukushima Daiichi, saying they were right to demand further investigation.

That is something the nuclear industry is determined to avoid as the ramifications, if proven, would be catastrophic for the future operation of reactors in Japan – but also have major implications worldwide,” he said in an interview.

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A writing inside Ukedo elementary school, damaged by the March 11, 2011 tsunami.

Burnie said the International Atomic Energy Agency and regulators worldwide had based their reviews of the Fukushima accident on the basis that without the tsunami, there would have been no multiple reactor meltdowns.

While this may be the conclusion the nuclear industry want to hear, it may not be correct. It could be many years before this issue is resolved one way or the other. Meanwhile, Japan continues to apply a flawed seismic model for assessing risks at nuclear plants.”

Watch the full press conference here:

 

Source:  http://www.atimes.com/article/unanswered-questions-fukushima-nuclear-disaster//

 

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 1 Comment

2 TEPCO affiliates get tax exemption approval under disaster aid system

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Two Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) affiliates received Fukushima gubernatorial approval for tax breaks designed to help local businesses affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster, it has been learned.

The firms applied for the local tax exemptions with the Fukushima Prefectural Government. Under the disaster relief tax break system, the amounts exempted are covered by the reconstruction budget. However, in the case of the TEPCO affiliates, it means reconstruction funds will flow to firms associated with the very company that caused the nuclear disaster.

“It is wrong to give them (the TEPCO affiliates) preferential treatment from the standpoint of public sentiment,” one critic said.

The two companies are Kandenko Co., an engineering and construction company based in Tokyo’s Minato Ward, and Chuo Ward-based Tokyo Energy & Systems Inc., which does maintenance and other work. Both firms have been engaged in projects to decommission the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

As of March 2016, TEPCO was the biggest shareholder in both firms, with a 46 percent stake in Kandenko and a 24 percent stake in Tokyo Energy & Systems. Six of Kandenko’s board members are from TEPCO, while five TEPCO officials were transferred to Tokyo Energy & Systems to become board members. Furthermore, one executive doubles as a board member at both TEPCO and Tokyo Energy & Systems.

The tax-exempt system is based on the Act on Special Measures for the Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fukushima enacted in the wake of the nuclear disaster. The law covers corporations and sole proprietors that had business offices in areas subject to the post-meltdown evacuation orders. Because a small number of local residents are expected to return to their hometowns near the nuclear plant, the system is aimed at attracting people to these municipalities by promoting business activity, including decommissioning work, and securing jobs for them.

Kandenko and Tokyo Energy & Systems both have offices in the region covered by the system. If they make fresh capital investments and apply with the Fukushima Prefectural Government for tax exemptions within five years from the time when evacuation orders were lifted, they will receive a partial corporate enterprise tax exemption, and a 100 percent real estate acquisition tax exemption. Both taxes are prefectural, and exempted amounts are covered by subsidies based on the special tax allocation system for disaster reconstruction funded by a dedicated tax, among other means.

According to a Fukushima Prefectural Government tax affairs department official, 436 corporations and individuals have received written approval for the program, 178 of which have been exempted from paying prefectural taxes totaling 345 million yen. The tax affairs department admitted to issuing approvals to the two TEPCO affiliates, adding, “If applications meet conditions, even TEPCO affiliates are not excluded from access to the system.”

A Kandenko spokesperson told the Mainichi Shimbun, “We went through confirmation procedures in line with the intent of the act on special measures. As of this moment, we have received no exemption.” Tokyo Energy & Systems built a branch office in an evacuation zone in 2016. Asked whether the company has been granted tax exemptions, a spokesperson said, “We will refrain from replying.” A TEPCO spokesperson said, “We are not in a position to comment.”

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170307/p2a/00m/0na/009000c

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

32,000 workers at Fukushima No. 1 got high radiation dose, Tepco data show

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A Reuters reporter measures a radiation level of 9.76 microsieverts per hour in front of Kumamachi Elementary School inside the exclusion zone in Okuma, near Tokyo Electric Power Co’s tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on Feb. 13.

A total of 32,760 workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant had an annual radiation dose exceeding 5 millisieverts as of the end of January, according to an analysis of Tokyo Electric Power Co. data.

A reading of 5 millisieverts is one of the thresholds of whether nuclear plant workers suffering from leukemia can be eligible for compensation benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Of those workers, 174 had a cumulative radiation dose of more than 100 millisieverts, a level considered to raise the risk of dying after developing cancer by 0.5 percent. Most of the exposure appears to have stemmed from work just after the start of the crisis on March 11, 2011.

The highest reading was 678.8 millisieverts.

Overall, a total of 46,490 workers were exposed to radiation, with the average at 12.7 millisieverts.

The number of workers with an annual dose of over 5 millisieverts increased 34 percent from fiscal 2013 to 6,600 in fiscal 2014, when workloads grew to address the increase in radiation-tainted water at the plant. The number was at 4,223 in the first 10 months of fiscal 2015, which ends this month, on track to mark an annual decline.

A labor standards supervision office in Fukushima Prefecture last October accepted a claim for workers compensation by a man who developed leukemia after working at the plant, the first recognition of cancer linked to work after the meltdowns as a work-related illness. Similar compensation claims have been rejected in three cases so far, according to the labor ministry.

The average radiation dose was higher among Tepco workers at the plant than among workers from subcontractors in fiscal 2010 and 2011. Starting in fiscal 2012, the reading was higher among subcontractor workers than among Tepco workers.

The average dose for subcontractor workers was 1.7 times the level of Tepco workers in fiscal 2013, 2.3 times in fiscal 2014 and 2.5 times in fiscal 2015 as of the end of January.

A separate analysis of data from the Nuclear Regulation Authority showed that the average radiation dose of workers at 15 nuclear power plants across the country, excluding the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants, fell to 0.22 millisievert in fiscal 2014, when none of the plants was in operation, down 78 percent from 0.99 millisievert in fiscal 2010.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/07/national/science-health/32000-fukushima-no-1-workers-got-high-radiation-dose-tepco-data-show/#.WL_oZKKmnIW

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Survey: Many dissatisfied with 3/11 recovery

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NHK conducted a survey of survivors and nuclear evacuees of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and a majority of respondents were dissatisfied with recovery efforts so far.

The survey was conducted from November to February, ahead of the 6th anniversary of the disaster on Saturday.

NHK got responses from 1,437 people from the hardest-hit northeastern prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima.

Asked about recovery efforts in the areas where they lived before the disaster, 26 percent of the respondents replied they don’t feel any sense of progress, and 36 percent said they’ve seen slower-than-anticipated recovery.

On the other hand, 34 percent said they’ve seen progress at a reasonable pace, and 2 percent said they’ve seen faster-than-expected recovery.

But even among those who gave positive answers, most of them apparently felt there has been little improvement to regional economies and standards of living. Only 4 percent of them said they think the regional economy is better than before the disaster, and 8 percent said they feel their community is more vibrant.

Associate Professor Reo Kimura of the University of Hyogo says the challenge ahead is to provide support for daily life, and come up with ideas on how to make those regions more attractive.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170307_02/

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

America heading towards bankruptcy, as Trump administration plunders the nation’s coffers to enrich war profiteers?

In addition to increasing the national debt, such a program will require cutting every sector of the civilian side of the budget — housing, transportation, environmental protection, biomedical research, education and health care. For many years, caps on these programs have continued to weaken them. The current proposal will essentially bankrupt the federal contribution to the civilian side of the economy.

The longer-term effects on the national economy are often obscured but will be even more devastating…..

Efforts to communicate to voters the role of weapons contractors in distorting national security policy are getting underway, following the lead of the European-based “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” campaign. Last spring, the Cambridge City Council voted unanimously to request that the Cambridge pension funds divest from stocks in companies involved in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Subsequently, the US Conference of Mayors passed a supporting resolution. These are small but important first steps in focusing attention on these corporate drivers of dangerous and costly nuclear weapons policies

Trump Is Bankrupting Our Nation to Enrich the War Profiteers,  March 06, 2017 By Jonathan King and Richard KrushnicTruthout | News Analysis President Trump’s calls for a military buildup are opening the fiscal floodgates for congressional hawks and defense industry contractors. On January 27, Trump signed an executive order setting in motion a “great rebuilding of the Armed Forces” that will include new ships, planes and weapons and the “modernization” of the US nuclear arsenal. Presently, more than half of this year’s congressional budget — some $610 billion of our income tax dollars — is allocated to Pentagon accounts, including overseas military operations and nuclear weapons.

Though the details were scarce, we can expect the Trump order to align with the proposals of Sen. John McCain, chair of the Armed Services Committee. As reported in Politico, Senator McCain is now calling for large increases in this already bloated budget, to $640 billion for fiscal year 2018 — $54 billion above the current budget projections. Adding in the $60 billion projected spending for Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and other interventions could bring total Pentagon spending next year to more than $900 billion. The primary beneficiaries of such a buildup will be the large corporations that dominate weapons contracting.

This is likely to be more than 60 percent of the total congressional discretionary budget. For comparison, the National Institutes of Health budget, which funds biomedical research on all the diseases that afflict tens of millions of Americans, is about $33 billion, less than 3 percent of the congressional budget. By fiscal year 2022, defense appropriations would reach $800 billion.

Trump’s tweets calling to limit the costs on the deeply troubled and over-budget F-35 Joint Strike Fighter have led to some optimism regarding his Pentagon spending plans. But mildly limiting the excessive profits to Lockheed Martin and their subcontractors, by tens or even hundreds of millions, is a very small effect when overall spending is increased by hundreds of billions.

Excessive Pentagon Spending Undermines the Civilian Economy

In addition to increasing the national debt, such a program will require cutting every sector of the civilian side of the budget — housing, transportation, environmental protection, biomedical research, education and health care. For many years, caps on these programs have continued to weaken them. The current proposal will essentially bankrupt the federal contribution to the civilian side of the economy.

The longer-term effects on the national economy are often obscured but will be even more devastating. Weapons don’t house us, don’t clothe us, don’t help us get to work and don’t cure our diseases. Thus, in the long run, they drain resources away from productive investments, deeply undercutting the overall health of the economy………

Former US Secretary of Defense William J. Perry, who served from 1994-1996, argues, “We are facing nuclear dangers today that are in fact more likely to erupt into a nuclear conflict than during the Cold War.” He notes that the new US nuclear weapons modernization program and Russia’s modernization program — along with confrontations in Eastern Europe and the Middle East — have begun a new nuclear arms race more dangerous than the Cold War. He sees “an imperative to stop this damn nuclear race before it gets underway again, not just for the cost but for the danger it puts all of us in.”

Efforts to communicate to voters the role of weapons contractors in distorting national security policy are getting underway, following the lead of the European-based “Don’t Bank on the Bomb” campaign. Last spring, the Cambridge City Council voted unanimously to request that the Cambridge pension funds divest from stocks in companies involved in the manufacture of nuclear weapons. Subsequently, the US Conference of Mayors passed a supporting resolution. These are small but important first steps in focusing attention on these corporate drivers of dangerous and costly nuclear weapons policies.http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39712-trump-is-bankrupting-our-nation-to-enrich-the-war-profiteers

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March 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US moves Thaad missile defence system into South Korea : Trump says it’s a”new phase”

Donald Trump says nuclear threat from North Korea has entered ‘new phase’
US president told Japanese PM he is ‘100%’ with Tokyo as US moves Thaad missile defence system into South Korea following Pyongyang missile launches,  Guardian,  
   The threat posed by North Korea to the US and its allies has entered a “new phase”, Donald Trump said on Tuesday, a day after the regime test-launched four ballistic missiles towards Japan.

In phone talks on Tuesday, Trump told Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, that the US stood “100%” with Tokyo after three of the intermediate-range missiles landed in the sea off Japan’s north-west coast.

“President Trump told me that the United States was with Japan 100%, and that he wanted his comments to be communicated to the Japanese people,” Abe told reporters at his residence. “He said he wanted us to trust him as well as the United States 100%.

“Japan and the United States confirmed that the latest missile firing by North Korea … is a clear challenge to the region and the international community, and that its threat has entered a new phase.”

The comments came as the US said the “first elements” of its controversial missile defence system had arrived in South Korea on Tuesday. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) anti-missile system is meant to intercept and destroy short- and medium-range ballistic missiles during the last part of their flights, the US Pacific Command said in a statement.

 

“Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy Thaad to South Korea,” US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris said.

China has denounced Thaad’s deployment, saying its powerful radar would compromise its security.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, citing military sources, said the system could be operational as early as April, well ahead of schedule.

Trump and Abe spoke as the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, declared the launches a success and warned that they were part of a training exercise for an attack on US military bases in Japan, home to almost 50,000 American troops.

“The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency quoted Kim as saying. The regime also released images of the missile launches, with a smiling Kim in attendance.

The launches were seen as a protest against the start of joint military exercises involving South Korea and the US that Pyongyang regards as a rehearsal for an invasion of North Korea.

A day after operation Foal Eagle began last Wednesday, North Korea’s army, deploying the same vitriolic language it reserves for the annual drills, warned that it was ready to “immediately launch its merciless military counteractions” if South Korean or US forces fired “even a single shell” into waters near the divided Korean peninsula…….

Trump has yet to state how he intends to address the growing North Korean threat from ballistic missiles, amid evidence that the regime is edging closer to acquiring the ability to marry a miniaturised nuclear warhead with a long-range missile capable of striking the US mainland.

The UN has imposed six rounds of sanctions since the North conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, but they have failed to dent the regime’s quest to build what it claims is a “defensive” nuclear arsenal.

Trump has not publicly commented on Monday’s missile launch, but his ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world “won’t allow” North Korea to continue on its “destructive path”.

Choi Kang, an analyst at the Seoul-based Asan Institute for Policy Studies, said the launch was a warning to Tokyo. “North Korea is demonstrating that its target is not just limited to the Korean peninsula any more but can extend to Japan at any time and even the US,” he said. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/mar/07/donald-trump-threat-north-korea-new-phase

March 8, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear warning from North Korea

North Korea warns joint US-South Korea military exercises are pushing region to ‘nuclear disaster’ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-07/nkorea-us-skorea-exercises-leading-to-nuclear-disaster/8330554 North Korea has warned that US-South Korean military exercises — which it called “the most undisguised nuclear war manoeuvrers” — are driving the Korean Peninsula and north-east Asia towards “nuclear disaster”.

Key points:

  • North Korea’s UN ambassador warns that “it may go over to an actual war”
  • The White House announces more defence capabilities to be deployed to the region
  • The raised tensions follow another series of North Korean ballistic missile tests
  • On Monday some 50,000 North Koreans rally in support of mobilisation efforts

North Korea’s UN ambassador, Ja Song-nam, said in a letter to the UN Security Council on Monday the US was using nuclear-propelled aircraft carries, nuclear submarines, nuclear strategic bombers and stealth fighters in the joint exercises that began on March 1.

“It may go over to an actual war,” he warned of the military drills.

“Consequently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war.”

Mr Ja again urged the Security Council to discuss the US-South Korea exercises and warned if it ignored North Korea’s request as it had in the past it would demonstrate the UN’s most powerful body was only a “political tool” of the United States.

The ambassador said the United States sought to convince public opinion that the joint exercise was a response to North Korea’s nuclear weapons, but said the US and South Korea carried out military drills numerous times before Pyongyang possessed its “nuclear deterrent”.

North Korea sent the letter on the manoeuvrers hours after North Korea fired four banned ballistic missiles earlier on Monday, in apparent reaction to the US-South Korean exercises.

Three of them landed in waters Japan claims as its exclusive economic zone, South Korean and Japanese officials said.

US President Donald Trump discussed plans to respond to the recent missile launches with South Korea’s acting president, Hwang Kyo-ahn, an official at Mr Hwang’s office said.

Mr Trump also had a phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, reaffirming its alliance with Tokyo and condemning North Korea’s tests as a threat to regional security.

THAAD deployment begins

The US started to deploy the first elements of its advanced Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea in response to the missile tests, US Pacific Command said.

“Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea,” US Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris said in a statement.

South Korea’s media cited the nation’s military as saying the THAAD deployment would be complete in one to two months and would be operational as early as April.

The move by the US military is likely to deepen the brewing conflict between South Korea and China, which has angrily opposed the THAAD deployment as destroying regional security balance.

Meanwhile, North Korean authorities gathered more than 50,000 people together on Monday to make a show of support for the country’s latest mobilisation campaign.

Mr Ja said the main reason the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) — the country’s official name — was equipping itself “with nuclear attack capabilities” and strengthening its nuclear deterrent forces was in self-defence against what he called the US “extreme anti-DPRK hostile police and nuclear threats and blackmails as well as manoeuvrers to enforce its nuclear weapons”.

North Korea’s UN Mission also issued a press statement denouncing and rejecting a report by the Security Council’s panel of experts that monitors UN sanctions against the DPRK.

The experts said North Korea was flouting sanctions by trading in prohibited weapons and other goods and using evasion techniques “that are increasing in scale, scope and sophistication”.

The DPRK Mission again insisted the sanctions “have no legal basis at all” and violate the country’s “lawful rights”.

March 8, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant ¥8 trillion and many, many ,decades

Long way ahead for decommissioning of nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan News.7 Mar 17  “……While the critical situation has subsided, the task of removing melted nuclear fuel from the reactors awaits. Reflecting on the task ahead, TEPCO considers this stage of the decommissioning work “the bottom point of a trek up a mountain.”

Above all else, grasping the situation inside the reactors is essential. To what extent have the reactors been damaged? And does the melted nuclear fuel remain as large chunks or is it scattered around?

The investigation has struck a snag. Extremely high levels of radiation have been monitored inside the reactor buildings, making it difficult to get close. Even though a robot was put to the task of surveying a reactor, obstacles prevented further probing.

Better remote control needed

Inside the No. 2 reactor, the degree of damage was at least partially established earlier this year. On the floor under the pressure vessel of the reactor, a large hole was discovered. It is believed to have been created when nuclear fuel fell down.

Inside reactors Nos. 1 and 3, which are seriously damaged, even probing with a robot is proving difficult.

The government and TEPCO plan to start the extraction of nuclear fuel in 2021. Although they plan to decide on the method of extraction as early as September, relevant data is undeniably lacking.

Further advances of remote control and other technologies are needed.

The issue of radioactive contaminated water, chiefly from groundwater flowing into the reactor buildings, has yet to be fundamentally solved……..The problem is what to do with the vast volume of water that has been kept in storage tanks inside the plant’s premises…….

According to a provisional calculation, the decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant will require about ¥8 trillion. This is a heavy undertaking which needs to be borne by the whole country. It is vital for the government to take the lead to mobilize knowledge and technology, both at home and abroad                      http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003562229                                      

March 8, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tepco data show 32,000 workers at Fukushima No. 1 got high radiation dose

, Tepco data show http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/07/national/science-health/32000-fukushima-no-1-workers-got-high-radiation-dose-tepco-data-show/#.WL-YzNKGPGhJIJI
 MAR 7, 2016
 A total of 32,760 workers at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant had an annual radiation dose exceeding 5 millisieverts as of the end of January, according to an analysis of Tokyo Electric Power Co. data.

A reading of 5 millisieverts is one of the thresholds of whether nuclear plant workers suffering from leukemia can be eligible for compensation benefits for work-related injuries and illnesses.

Of those workers, 174 had a cumulative radiation dose of more than 100 millisieverts, a level considered to raise the risk of dying after developing cancer by 0.5 percent. Most of the exposure appears to have stemmed from work just after the start of the crisis on March 11, 2011.

The highest reading was 678.8 millisieverts.

Overall, a total of 46,490 workers were exposed to radiation, with the average at 12.7 millisieverts.

The number of workers with an annual dose of over 5 millisieverts increased 34 percent from fiscal 2013 to 6,600 in fiscal 2014, when workloads grew to address the increase in radiation-tainted water at the plant. The number was at 4,223 in the first 10 months of fiscal 2015, which ends this month, on track to mark an annual decline.

A labor standards supervision office in Fukushima Prefecture last October accepted a claim for workers compensation by a man who developed leukemia after working at the plant, the first recognition of cancer linked to work after the meltdowns as a work-related illness. Similar compensation claims have been rejected in three cases so far, according to the labor ministry.

The average radiation dose was higher among Tepco workers at the plant than among workers from subcontractors in fiscal 2010 and 2011. Starting in fiscal 2012, the reading was higher among subcontractor workers than among Tepco workers.

The average dose for subcontractor workers was 1.7 times the level of Tepco workers in fiscal 2013, 2.3 times in fiscal 2014 and 2.5 times in fiscal 2015 as of the end of January.

A separate analysis of data from the Nuclear Regulation Authority showed that the average radiation dose of workers at 15 nuclear power plants across the country, excluding the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants, fell to 0.22 millisievert in fiscal 2014, when none of the plants was in operation, down 78 percent from 0.99 millisievert in fiscal 2010.

March 8, 2017 Posted by | employment, Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment

Lockheed Martin – USA’s top salesman for war?

Lockheed Martin Used Pentagon Dollars to Lobby Congress for Nuclear Weapons Funding One of the uses of the billions of dollars from these contracts is to recycle them back into lobbying the government to push for additional conventional and nuclear weapons spending, as reported by William Hartung and Stephen Miles. Of course, in addition, these funds are used to support a general environment of fear and insecurity, through contributions supporting hawkish think tanks.

Trump Is Bankrupting Our Nation to Enrich the War Profiteers March 06, 2017 By Jonathan King and Richard KrushnicTruthout | News Analysis

“……..Corporations that contract with the Department of Defense (DOD) for nuclear weapons complex work do not report revenues and profits from this work separately from their other military work, although they do break up government work from civilian work, and sometimes break up military work from other government work. Hence, it is not possible to determine profits made from nuclear weapons complex work from the annual reports and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings of large military corporations. However, it is possible to estimate, and to demonstrate how a significant amount of military R&D and production not recorded as nuclear weapons work is in fact partially nuclear weapons work. The nuclear weapons work financed by the US Department of Energy (DOE) is (not surprisingly) carried out in a semi-secret insiders club that insulates it from public knowledge and oversight. The first contracts for the upgrading of the nuclear weapons triads have already been awarded — one to Northrop Grumman — for a new generation of long-range bomber. But the public remains in the dark as to how many tens of billions of their tax dollars will be spent on the project.

From 2012-2014, according to Lockheed Martin’s 2014 annual report, the company realized an average of $46 billion a year in revenue, with an average of $3.2 billion in profits — 7 percent of revenue, and a 76 percent return on $4.2 billion of investor equity. The annual report informs us that 59 percent of 2014 revenue came from the Pentagon. We know from other sources that $1.4 billion a year is coming from the DOE for operation of the Sandia nuclear weapons lab, and we are estimating that an additional $600 million a year is coming for DOE nuclear weapons complex work. Information in the annual report indicates that around $6.1 billion came from foreign military sales. This adds up to around $35 billion of military revenue, or 75.3 percent of total 2014 revenue. The single biggest revenue earner in recent years is the F-35 jet fighter, bringing in $8.2 billion, 17 percent of total corporation revenue, in 2014. (William Hartung’s recent report describes additional aspects of Lockheed Martin’s military business, and his book Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military Industrial Complex provides extensive background).

The only references to Lockheed Martin’s nuclear weapons complex work in its 2014 annual report is a sentence noting provision of infrastructure and site support to the DOE’s Hanford complex, and a phrase noting continuing work on the Trident missile. The words “nuclear weapons” never appear in the report.

Lockheed Martin’s Nuclear Weapons Operations

In spite of the lack of mention in the annual report, Lockheed Martin is a partner with Bechtel ATK, SOC LLC and subcontractor Booz Allen Hamilton in Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC (CNS), in running the DOE Pantex Plant and the Y-12 Complex. Pantex does nuclear weapons life extension, dismantlement, development, testing and fabrication of high explosive nuclear warhead components. Y-12 stores and processes uranium, and fabricates uranium weapons components.

Lockheed Martin produced the Trident strategic nuclear missile for the 14 US Ohio-class nuclear submarines and for the four British Vanguard-class submarines. The 24 Tridents on each Ohio-class submarine each carry either eight or 12 warheads, all of them 20 to 50 times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Each warhead is capable of killing most of the people in any one of the world’s largest cities — either immediately or later, from radiation, burns, other injuries, starvation and disease. Lockheed MArtin is not producing new Trident missiles now, but it maintains and modifies them. Previously, Lockheed Martin and its subcontractors received $65 million for each of the 651 Trident missiles, in addition to the $35 billion in earlier development costs.

The other primary strategic nuclear weapon delivery vehicle is Boeing’s land-based Minuteman III strategic missile, also with many warheads per missile. About 450 of them are in silos in Colorado and northern plains states. Lockheed Martin produced and continues to produce key systems for the Minuteman III, and plays a large role in maintaining them. It was awarded a $452 million contract for this work in 2014.

Lockheed’s Sandia Subsidiary

Regarding the Pentagon’s nuclear weapons upgrades planned for the next decade; particularly important is the role of Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). Outside of Albuquerque, New Mexico, this DOE lab’s 10,600 employees make 95 percent of the roughly 6,500 non-nuclear components of all seven US nuclear warhead types. Components arm, fuse, fire, generate neutrons to start nuclear reactions, prevent unauthorized firing, preserve the aging nuclear weapons stockpile and mate the weapons to the missiles, planes and ships that deliver them to targets. Sandia Corporation LLC, wholly owned by Lockheed Martin, operates Sandia. The DOE is spending at least $1.4 billion a year on Sandia nuclear weapons work. The secret Lockheed Martin nuclear warhead assembly plant uncovered in Sunnyvale in 2010 is an extension of Lockheed Martin’s Sandia operations. Again, none of this received any mention or revenue numbers in Lockheed Martin’s 2014 annual report.

Lockheed Martin Used Pentagon Dollars to Lobby Congress for Nuclear Weapons Funding

One of the uses of the billions of dollars from these contracts is to recycle them back into lobbying the government to push for additional conventional and nuclear weapons spending, as reported by William Hartung and Stephen Miles. Of course, in addition, these funds are used to support a general environment of fear and insecurity, through contributions supporting hawkish think tanks. Technically, the federal government does not allow military contracting firms to use awarded funds to lobby Congress. Lobbying funds must come from other parts of the companies’ businesses. In reality, this is a non-functional restriction, since profits from various business segments are fungible; that is, once they are profits, they are intermingled, so in reality, the firms can use the profits from military contracts to lobby Congress. But Lockheed Martin went ahead and spent military contract funds from 2008-2012 as part of the contract expenditures. It didn’t even bother to book the lobbying expenditures as expenditures of profits. In 2015, the US Department of Justice required Lockheed Martin’s Sandia subsidiary to repay $4.9 million of a Sandia contract award to the Pentagon that the firm had spent under the contract for lobbying of Congressman the DOE secretary and the secretary’s family and friends………http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/39712-trump-is-bankrupting-our-nation-to-enrich-the-war-profiteers

March 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New York decision makers absent from nuclear bailout hearing

Decision-makers skip N.Y. nuclear bailout hearing, Democrat and  Chronicle,  7  Mar  17  , @JonCampbellGAN     ALBANY – A state-approved bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants was the focus of a legislative hearing Monday, but New York’s top energy officials declined to attend.

The state Assembly held a hearing Monday on the state’s “zero-emissions credit” plan, which kicks in on April 1 and will require ratepayers across the state to pay several billion dollars over 12 years to keep open the three aging plants, including the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant near Rochester.

The hearing, however, was absent the key decision-makers in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration who were behind the initiative.  The state Public Service Commission, which approved the measure last August, declined to testify in person, citing scheduling conflicts and a late invitation to attend. The state Energy Research Development Authority also declined……

Differing views

Without Cuomo’s administration participating Monday, lawmakers instead heard from private critics and supporters of the plan, including Exelon’s representatives. It began around 10 a.m. Monday and continued into the afternoon.

Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, urged lawmakers to pass legislation pausing the nuclear subsidy before it takes effect April 1.

NYPIRG and other critics of the plan estimate it will cost ratepayers $7.6 billion over 12 years, though the actual cost will depend largely on the cost of wholesale power.

“I think you hit that pause button, because once these things go on sale, it’s tough to un-ring that bell,” Horner said.

James Vaughn, senior manager at Exelon’s Nine Mile Point plant in Oswego County, spoke in support of the plan, urging lawmakers to be driven by “facts not fear.”

He said the plan is not about “lining our pockets with money,” but keeping the plants profitable so they can stay open and producing clean power.

“At the end of the day, we’re a business,” Vaughn said. “And without these (zero-emissions credits), these plants will shut down.”http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/politics/albany/2017/03/06/hearing-ny-nuclear-bailout/98806392/

March 8, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment