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Yoshida’s Dilemma: if it wasn’t for one man, it could have been much worse

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March 11, 2011. A magnitude 9 earthquake rocks Japan and triggers a mega-tsunami that kills thousands of people. It also knocks out the power at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and triggers one of the worst nuclear accidents in history.
If it wasn’t for one man, it could have been much worse. 
 
“Rob Gilhooly has written what is probably the most comprehensive English-language account yet of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.  Gilhooly is among the best-informed foreign reporters on this issue in Japan, having travelled to Fukushima several dozen times since being one of the first journalists to arrive in the prefecture on a freezing night in March 2011.  He gives the story of Masao Yoshida, perhaps the key figure in the disaster, all the detail, sympathy and pathos it demands.  His remarkable pictures throughout the book are a bonus.  Highly recommended. “
— David McNeil, The Economist.
 
“A powerful synthesis of the technical and the personal, Gilhooly succeeds in conveying the events of March 2011, its aftermath and the dramatic impact on the people of Fukushima and wider Japan. Six years after the start of the accident, Yoshida’s Dilemma is a necessary reminder of how through the actions of heroic individuals and luck Japan avoided an even greater catastrophe.”  
— S. David  Freeman, former Tennessee Valley Authority chairman, engineer, energy expert and author of Energy: The New Era and Winning Our Energy Independence
“As one of the few journalists to have covered the Fukushima story from the very start, Rob Gilhooly is perfectly placed to discuss the disaster’s causes and aftermath, and its wider ramifications for the future of nuclear power. From the chaotic scenes as the plant went into triple meltdown, to the plight of evacuated residents and Japan’s long and troubled relationship with atomic energy, Gilhooly combines fine story-telling with journalistic integrity to produce a book that is admirably free of hyperbole.” 
— Justin McCurry, The Guardian.
 
In Yoshida’s Dilemma, Rob Gilhooly, a long-term resident of Japan who has worked extensively as a journalist and photojournalist, has assembled a wealth of material, ranging from the reminiscences of the then Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, to the stories of those who worked to save the nation from disaster when the massive earthquake and tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. 
 
This real-life thriller concentrates on Masao Yoshida, the director of the plant, who inspired his “troops” to risk their lives as they battled the invisible enemy of radiation, but also tells of those living nearby, who were forced to give up their homes and lifestyles which had been enjoyed by their families for generations, as power companies and bureaucrats dithered and obscured the facts surrounding the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.
 
While Gilhooly is careful not to take sides in the pro- and anti-nuclear power debate, the almost inescapable conclusion is that nuclear power is a highly dangerous technology – maybe even too dangerous to be employed using the current Japanese business model, where the “nuclear village” shuts out criticism, and even knowledge, of its often dangerous operational practices and decisions. Yoshida’s Dilemma provides a wake-up call to other nations with nuclear power, whether or not they are subject to the kind of natural disaster that destroyed Fukushima, and a must-read introduction to the way in which such technology is managed and promoted, not only in Japan, but in other countries.
 
Main areas covered:
– The story of the nuclear crisis, as experienced by the workers at the nuclear plant, the firefighters and other emergency units who battled to bring the melting reactors under control and officials in Tokyo, such as then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, charged with responding to the disasters  
– The impact of the crisis on residents and their evacuation from their homes near the plant
– US response, including efforts by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to cooperate with TEPCO and Japan’s nuclear watchdog, the NISA 
– Historical and cultural perspectives on nuclear power in Japan, including the launch of the Atoms For Peace expo and other efforts by the nuclear energy lobby, sometimes referred to as the “nuclear power village,” to win over the Japanese public   
– Insights from experts about technical aspects of the nuclear accident
– A look at what might have happened had the worse-case scenario played out
– Anti-nuclear protests, including efforts by communities housing nuclear facilities to prevent those facilities from being re-started
– The real cost of the disasters, including the financial burden and the health impacts uncovered 
–  An examination of the true cost of nuclear power, which was widely promoted in the US and Japan as being “too cheap to meter” 
– The future of nuclear power in Japan and nuclear power’s position in a country often perceived as being resource-poor
– The future of new energies in Japan and the nation’s increasing reliance on coal-fired power stations
 
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April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Lifting Fukushima evacuation orders

28 feb 2017

The lifting of evacuation orders in four municipalities around Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holding’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant over the weekend does not normalize the lives of former residents forced out of their hometowns due to the radioactive fallout from the March 2011 triple meltdowns at the plant. The government needs to keep up support for the residents — both those returning to their hometowns and those choosing to stay out for various reasons — to help them rebuild their lives, which were shattered by the nuclear disaster six years ago.

Since 2014, the government has been moving to lift its evacuation orders issued to areas once designated no-go zones around the Tepco plant where the level of radioactive pollution is deemed to have declined to acceptable levels through decontamination efforts. The lifting of the evacuation orders in parts of the Fukushima towns of Namie, Tomioka and Kawamata and Iitate village on Friday and Saturday paves the way for the return of about 32,000 former residents. The total areas designated as no-go zones have now been reduced to roughly one-third of their peak — although areas that used to be home to 24,000 people will continue to be off-limits to former residents due to still high radiation levels.

Last month, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said reconstruction from the March 11, 2011, disasters — the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear fiasco — is making steady progress and is “entering a new stage” with the lifting of evacuation orders to the former no-go zones around the Tepco plant. Also at the end of March, public housing assistance was terminated for people who had voluntarily evacuated from areas located outside the no-go zones out of fear of radioactive pollution.

However, government decisions alone will not return evacuees’ lives to a state of normalcy. In areas where evacuation orders have earlier been lifted since 2014, only 13 percent of the former residents have returned to their hometowns. In Namie and Tomioka, where some parts of the towns will continue to remain off-limits due to high radiation levels, more than 50 percent of former residents told a Reconstruction Agency survey last year that they have no plans to return in the future.

Some of the former residents cite continuing concerns over the effects of radioactive contamination, while others point to the slow recovery of infrastructure crucial to daily life such as medical services and shopping establishments in their hometowns. Other former residents have started life anew in the places to which they have evacuated.

The prospect is also bleak for businesses that used to operate in the areas. According to a survey by the association of Fukushima Prefecture chambers of commerce and industry, about half of the companies located in the no-go zones were unable as of last September to reopen their businesses as they lost their customers and business partners in the years since the 2011 disaster. Many of the busineses that have reopened after the evacuation orders were lifted said they have not been able to earn the same level fo profits as before the nuclear crisis.

Reconstruction from the March 2011 disasters continues to lag in Fukushima compared with the other devastated prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate, because of the additional woes caused by the Tepco plant disaster. Nearly 80,000 Fukushima residents remain displaced from their homes six years on — roughly half the peak figure of 165,000 but still accounting for a bulk of the national total of 123,000 as of February.

With the lifting of the evacuation orders, monthly payments of consolation money from Tepco to the residents of former no-go zones will be terminated in a year. Fukushima Prefecture’s housing aid, essentially funded by the national government, to more than 20,000 Fukushima people who voluntarily evacuated from their homes outside the no-go zones was cut off at the end of last month — although substitute assistance programs will be continued on a limited scope.

Officials say that decontamination and restoration of social infrastructure have progressed in the former no-go zones around the Tepco plant. However, administrative decisions such as the lifting of evacuation orders alone will not compel evacuees to return to their hometowns or rebuild their communities shattered by the nuclear disaster. The government must keep monitoring the real-life conditions of residents in affected areas and extend them the support they need, as well as continue to improve crucial infrastructure so more evacuees feel they can return home.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/04/03/editorials/lifting-fukushima-evacuation-orders/

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

After Fukushima, battling Tepco and leukemia

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Expendable’: Masaru Ikeda, a former worker at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, is suing Tepco for failing to take adequate precautions against radiation exposure. Following his second stint at the stricken plant, Ikeda was diagnosed with leukemia, which labor authorities have said is linked to the radiation he was exposed to at the plant.

Eight-year-old Kenji hands his mother a tissue, which she uses to dry her eyes beneath thick-rimmed spectacles, her free hand giving her son’s closely cropped jet-black hair a gentle stroke. Michiko Ikeda has cried before, deeply, achingly, she admits, during a darker time when she faced the very real prospect of having to raise Kenji and his two siblings alone.

Then, Masaru, her husband of 15 years, had been diagnosed with leukemia following stints working at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and the neighboring Fukushima No. 2 facility, starting in the fall of 2011.

Even when he first said it was leukemia I thought it must be a mistake,” Michiko says as the afternoon sun streams through the window of the front room of her home in western Japan. “When the hospital confirmed it, my mind went blank. I couldn’t stop crying, wherever I went. The only image I had in my head was that my husband was going to die.”

The road to Fukushima for Masaru Ikeda began to unfold the day after the March 2011 disasters, when images from the tsunami-devastated Tohoku coast flooded the TV and internet. Among them was footage of bodies being laid out in a makeshift morgue, the feet and legs sticking out from beneath mud-encrusted blankets clearly belonging to children.

It was overwhelming and I couldn’t help wondering how I’d feel if it was my kids lying there,” says Masaru, 42, who, after 10 months of cancer treatment, was discharged from his hospital cleanroom, the cancer having been found to be one step short of incurable. “I knew I had to to do something to help.”

Shortly after, his boss at the construction company where he worked told him about a Fukushima contractor who was looking for labor to assist with the ongoing battle to bring the devastated nuclear facility under control. Even though he had never set foot in a nuclear power plant before, Ikeda’s 15 years of experience as a welder would be invaluable.

He asked if any of us were prepared to go up there, but nobody wanted to take the risk,” he says, adding that he, too, had initially hesitated. “I talked with colleagues and they said, ‘The workers at “1F” are like kamikaze pilots.’ … I still wanted to go, not for the sake of the country, but for the people of Tohoku.”

His family and friends objected vehemently. His father told him bluntly that if he went, he’d end up getting leukemia.

He didn’t say ‘cancer,’ or another illness, but ‘leukemia,’ possibly because of what happened after Hiroshima,” Ikeda says, referring to the leukemia that was the earliest delayed effect of radiation exposure seen among A-bomb survivors. “I told him there was no way that would happen.”

Ikeda’s work at the plant was as varied as it was hazardous. At one point he helped construct a facility to dispose of workers’ TyVek suits, the ubiquitous white hooded jumpsuits that after exposure to radiation were discarded onto mountainous piles inside the plant’s evacuation zone.

Later he was involved in the construction of a temporary elevator at shattered reactor 3 and a 50-meter-tall heavy-duty steel structure to surround reactor 4 and support a huge overhead crane that was needed to remove the smoldering fuel assemblies in the fuel pool. These had been exposed to the elements following an explosion that blew away the reactor roof and the original crane.

I was shocked when I first got there and saw the sheer volume of abandoned equipment and vehicles — including fire department and military trucks that had become irreversibly contaminated.”

He was also surprised by the makeup of the on-site workers — a curious mixture of day laborers and the homeless — not to mention the pitiful shortage of suitable clothing and masks to protect them from radiation, he says.

Later, when a lot of fuss was made about radioactivity, that kind of gear and PDMs (pocket dosimeters, which monitor radiation) became more commonplace, but before that it was basically regular work clothes and surgical masks,” he says. “During work at reactor 4 the levels were so high we were supposed to wear lead vests, but there were not enough to go round so some of us had to do without.”

Nonetheless, the high radiation levels meant that work close to the reactors rarely lasted more than an hour per day and on occasion was terminated after just 10 minutes.

In late 2013, Ikeda returned home for rest and recuperation following a dispute with a subcontracting firm that was refusing to honor the daily ¥6,000 hazard allowance promised to workers — considerably less than the ¥19,000 pledged by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) president Naomi Hirose a month earlier.

It was about this time that he started to feel unwell. He couldn’t shake off a dry cough and found himself tiring far more easily than usual. Twice he scraped the side of his car without even realizing it.

In early 2014 a local doctor diagnosed him with a cold, making the news of a far more life-threatening illness during a company-sanctioned periodic health check a week later all the harder to swallow.

Results from a subsequent spinal tap revealed that 80 percent of the white blood cells in his bone marrow were abnormal. The doctor told him if he had waited a couple more weeks, treatment would not have been an option.

Nevertheless, it was still touch and go, and fearing he might not have much longer to live, Ikeda ignored the doctor’s recommendation for immediate hospitalization, instead returning home to spend time with his children, who were then only 5, 7 and 9.

It was only after I saw them through the glass of the cleanroom for the first time that I realized what a painful ordeal I had put them through,” says Ikeda. “I don’t regret going to Fukushima … but I do regret the distress I caused my family.”

Despite his father’s pre-Fukushima dispatch prophecy, Ikeda had yet to contemplate the possibility that his illness may be tied to the plant. The seed of that idea was planted by a surprising source — an official at Kajima Corp., a company he praises despite it being implicated in a kickback scandal that led some workers who had received little or no hazard compensation to take legal action.

For the time being, however, he felt fortunate and relieved. The health and labor ministry had recognized the illness as workplace-related, though it stopped short of stating it was directly tied to the 19.8 millisieverts of radioactivity he had been exposed to while working at nuclear plants.

Under health ministry guidelines, workers who are exposed to 5 mSv of radiation in a year can apply for compensation insurance payments. Ikeda did so successfully, meaning the government would help cover Ikeda’s medical costs and loss of income.

Shortly after, he was contacted by a friend still employed at the plant, who told him of a memo attached to a worker survey undertaken by plant operator Tepco.

The memo told workers not to worry about the decision to recognize the connection between my leukemia and radiation — that it was bogus,” Ikeda recalls. “It was as though Tepco was trying to erase the recognition of my work-related illness, which by law was its responsibility.”

Until then Ikeda insists he had “no intention” of suing Tepco, but its attitude made him “feel sick to the bone.”

I started to wonder what kind of people they are,” says Ikeda, who since his transfusions has suffered various ailments linked to the peripheral blood stem cell transplant he received for his acute myeloid leukemia (AML). “This is a company that for months denied the reactor meltdowns, and that caused the explosions by refusing to inject seawater (to cool the reactors) on the grounds it would render the reactors unusable. Then they turn a blind eye to a worker who helped clean up their mess. To them I was just another expendable laborer.”

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Heavy price: Masaru Ikeda looks through his bag of copious prescription medication.

Incensed, Ikeda started legal proceedings against Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., accusing the now-nationalized utility of failing to take adequate precautions against radiation exposure. His first hearing, where he filed for ¥59 million damages against both Tepco and Kyushu Electric Power Co., at whose Genkai plant he had also worked, commenced at the Tokyo District Court on Feb. 2.

A Tepco spokesperson denied the claims, saying the utility has endeavored “to manage all radiation exposure of workers,” adding there has been “no medical connection found (between radiation exposure and leukemia) … even from third-party or any other medical experts.”

A health ministry official stopped short of corroborating that view, saying it had awarded Ikeda compensation even though the “causal link between his exposure to radiation and his illness is unclear.”

Researchers worldwide are divided about the relation between radiation and leukemia and, indeed, some other cancers. Imperial College London cancer expert Geraldine Thomas, who is openly pro-nuclear, says there is in fact a connection, though leukemia and other cancers can also result from several factors.

AML … does have an association with radiation exposure. However, it also has an association with smoking, exposure to benzene (one of the contaminants in cigarette smoke), etc.,” says Thomas, who runs the Chernobyl Tissue Bank, which analyzes samples of tissue from people exposed to radiation after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. “The problem with … these cases is that it is easy to blame radiation exposure, but almost impossible to prove or disprove, as there are no biomarkers that can be used to distinguish between different etiologies.”

The total dose Ikeda received was “very low,” Thomas adds, leading her to suspect that exposure to cigarette smoke is more likely to be a higher risk factor. Ikeda says he only started smoking after a doctor had recommended it to counter the stress resulting from the sometimes debilitating side-effects of his treatment.

While scientists such as Thomas show caution in their assessment of low exposure doses, Hisako Sakiyama, a medical doctor and former senior researcher at Japan’s National Institute of Radiological Sciences, is among those who insist that even lower doses can cause irreparable DNA damage known as “double strand breaks.” Such doses are therefore “capable of inducing cancer,” she says, “because the energy of radiation is stronger than that of the chemical bonds of DNA.”

Thomas counters that this alone is not enough to prove nuclear plants are the root of the problem because “double strand breaks are not uniquely caused by radiation.”

Ikeda’s lawyer, Yuichi Kaido, concedes that it’s scientifically problematic to prove his client’s leukemia is tied to radiation, even though Ikeda’s illness has been officially declared as being linked to his work.

More importantly, he has been exposed to a level of radiation clearly exceeding the standard set by the government, and incidences of leukemia (among the general public) are extremely low,” he says, referring to the leukemia incidence rate in Japan of 6.3 per 100,000 people, or 1.4 percent of 805,236 cancers diagnosed in 2010. “In this case, I think it has been proven that the probable cause (radiation) is clearly far beyond the 51 percent probability normally required in these kinds of civil cases.”

To assess Ikeda’s case, painstaking investigations into his medical and employment background were undertaken. Ikeda himself said he had often noticed what he believes were public security officials in black vehicles who he alleges would park near his home and tail him wherever he went, presumably checking on his lifestyle habits and the types of people with whom he kept company.

The outcome of the official investigation was that no other factors, such as viruses or other illnesses, could have caused his leukemia, according to Kaido.

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In his corner: Lawyer Yuichi Kaido is cautiously confident about Ikeda’s chances in court against Tepco. ‘It has been proven that the probable cause (radiation) is clearly far beyond the 51 percent probability normally required in these kinds of civil cases,’ he says.

Until now, there have been only two other known lawsuits like Ikeda’s. One of those — involving plumber Mitsuaki Nagao, who had been diagnosed with a type of bone marrow cancer after being exposed to 70 mSv of radiation at nuclear power plants including Fukushima No. 1 — was rejected by the Tokyo High Court in 2009, by which time Nagao had died. Kaido says that ruling could prove to be a “huge hindrance” in gaining justice for the likes of Ikeda.

The big difference between then and now is the massive accident at Fukushima, where it is unthinkable that no health hazard resulted,” Kaido says, adding that in a wider social context, it is unconscionable that the utility that caused such environmental destruction and has since paid trillions of yen already in compensation to atone for the disaster, should fail to recompense a man who fell sick after helping Tepco overcome the dire situation at Fukushima No. 1.

Some people in Fukushima who were unable to return to their homes (because of high radiation levels) were paid hundreds of billions of yen, while my client hasn’t received a penny. That’s preposterous. Tepco has washed its hands of its social responsibility.”

Although initially reluctant to take action, Ikeda hopes that his legal suit will encourage others to come forward, even though since 1976, when the compensation regulations were introduced, only 13 workers have been officially recognized as having suffered illnesses related to workplace radiation exposure. Ikeda became No. 14, and the first since the meltdowns in Fukushima (see table).

I have heard that there are probably many more, but you never hear about them because settlements are reached” to keep them hushed up, says Ikeda, adding that accusations on various internet forums that people like him are nothing more than greedy opportunists had distressed him greatly. “I wouldn’t have taken this action if Tepco had shown some degree of remorse.”

Ikeda’s wife, Michiko, who works in an elderly care facility, says the most difficult time for her was during those long months of treatment, when her husband shed all his hair and over 20 kg in weight. He began to look pale and gaunt and didn’t have the energy to talk for more than five minutes when she visited, even though she remembers him chatting at length with a fellow cancer patient in the cleanroom — a patient who died three days later.

She also remembers the various memory-making trips, to Hokkaido and Okinawa, among others — trips they hoped would remain with their children throughout their lives. Just in case.

Nobody can say when (the leukemia) will return, and while I worry about that, there’s nothing I can do,” she says. “That’s fate. I still can’t help wishing he had never gone (to Fukushima), but also feel bitter that Tepco didn’t try to prevent this from happening.”

The family asked that their real names and location not be used. This article is based on a chapter from Rob Gilhooly’s book “Yoshida’s Dilemma: One Man’s Struggle to Avert Nuclear Catastrophe: Fukushima — March 2011,” published last month by Inknbeans Press (www.yoshidas-dilemma.com).


Nuclear plant workers’ illnesses officially recognized by the health ministry as being workplace-related (between 1976 and June 2014 — a total of 13 workers):

Leukemia

(recognized limit: over 5 millisieverts/year)

Accumulated doses (mSv) of workers in six cases:

1) 129.8
2) 74.9
3) 72.1
4) 50.0
5) 40.0
6) 5.2

Malignant lymphoma

(recognized limit: over 25 mSv)

1) 175.2
2) 173.6
3) 138.5
4) 99.8
5) 78.9

Multiple myeloma

(recognized limit: over 50 mSv)

1) 70.0
2) 65.0

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/02/national/fukushima-battling-tepco-leukemia/#.WOG7J2_ys7Y

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | 1 Comment

60% of new utilities object to helping pay Fukushima compensation

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More than 60 percent of major new entrants to the electric power industry object to the government’s plan for them to shoulder some of the compensation costs stemming from the Fukushima nuclear crisis, a recent Kyodo News survey showed.

Of the 44 utilities surveyed, 29 said the plan by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry could have a negative impact on their businesses or prevent liberalization of the retail electricity market.

Last April, Japan freed up the retail electricity market, ending the decades-long monopoly of Japanese regional power companies. The new entrants are those that joined the industry after the liberalization of the market and are expected to promote competition, paving the way for lower electricity bills and new services.

But the ministry decided in November last year on a plan to let the utilities share the burden of the aftermath of the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, devastated by meltdowns triggered by the 2011 earthquake-tsunami disaster.

Meanwhile, 70 percent of the new entrants said they were able to win customers as planned or even more. The survey shows that while the liberalization of the market has proceeded relatively smoothly, systematic problems remain.

A total of 266 companies were registered as new electricity retailers as of March last year. The newcomers include gas suppliers such as Tokyo Gas Co. and Osaka Gas Co., major oil refiner JX Nippon Oil & Energy Corp., telecommunications service provider KDDI Corp. and railway company Tokyu Corp.

Kyodo News sent questionnaires to 50 major new retailers of which 44 responded.

About the ministry’s plan, 13 retailers said that it will have negative effects on their business, while 16 said the plan will have certain effect on the business. Only one company said that it did not expect any effects.

The ministry has deemed users should shoulder their share of the burden as they have widely benefitted from nuclear power before the crisis but 18 companies said they did not agree with the ministry.

A total of 30 companies said that the number of customers they have acquired so far reached or topped initial goals while 11 said that they were not able to win customers as expected.

The survey found that 41 companies were satisfied that they had entered the electricity retail market because they were able to connect well with customers which contributed not only in boosting profitability but also in enhancing the recognition of the companies. No company said it regretted entering the market.

On future management, 18 said they will expand their business operations while 8 companies said they will maintain the status quo. No companies said they will pull out of the market or consider scaling down operations.

Meanwhile, Japan’s energy sector saw more deregulation with the city gas market freed up Saturday, allowing major utilities to enter the market and enhance competition with gas company rivals in the industry.

Utilities including Chubu Electric Power Co. and Kansai Electric Power Co. have launched special websites introducing their lower gas price plans.

But compared with the liberalization of the retail electricity market, the gas retail market has attracted fewer entrants.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/02/national/60-new-utilities-object-helping-pay-fukushima-compensation/

 

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Street Artist 281_Antinuke Uses Art for His Message

“I feel immense pain, and my art is how I scream.” This man uses street art to remind people that Fukushima’s nuclear disaster is far from over.

 

An Interview with 281_Anti Nuke

October 1, 2013

The stickers went up a few months after Japan’s triple disaster in 2011—an earthquake and tsunami that took twenty thousand lives, and an ongoing nuclear crisis that threatens more. They first appeared along the shabby backstreets of Shibuya, in downtown Tokyo, a place that offers some of the very few canvasses for graffiti in a city not given to celebrating street art. The British expat photographer and filmmaker Adrian Storey couldn’t ignore them. “Being a foreigner, there was a sort of brief period after 3/11 when there was this sense of community in Tokyo that I haven’t felt before,” Storey says. “Then it kind of went away, and people just went back to shopping. I was drawn to the stickers because I realized it was a Japanese person behind them, and they actually cared about what was happening. I started photographing every sticker I found.”

Some stickers are small, eight inches or so in height. Others are the size of a stunted adult or a large child. In fact, children are featured in many of them, especially the motif of a young girl in a raincoat above the caption “I hate rain,” with the trefoil symbol for radiation stamped between “hate” and “rain.” On other stickers, silhouettes of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are suspended in white space beside the logo for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the government-allied conglomerate responsible for the operation and maintenance of the severely damaged Fukushima nuclear power plants. Sometimes the stark black lines and blotches resemble Rorschach tests. You look and see nothing, then look again and see Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s face, his mouth suffocated by an American flag.

The artist behind them calls himself 281_Anti Nuke, and he has become a cult phenomenon among Tokyo locals. The numerals refer to an athletic jersey he wore in high school. “It’s just nostalgia,” he says. “Memories of my happier times.” Tagged as the “Japanese Banksy,” he is an unlikely manifestation of Japan’s shredded identity: a contemporary artist of dissent in a country that rarely tolerates protest and barely supports modern art. His real name is Kenta Matsuyama, though few Japanese know that, since it appears only in the fine print on his manager’s English-language Web site. He is a fortysomething father born and raised near Fukushima, the site of Japan’s most pressing nuclear disaster. We meet in the heart of Shibuya, in a second-story café overlooking the most famous intersection in Japan—a crowded network of diagonal crosswalks that is featured in nearly every film set in Tokyo.

We are hiding in plain sight. “These people,” he says, gesturing toward the window and the masses below, “they only vote for the winner; they only think about the winner. They have no concept of real strength. They feel satisfied just knowing that the party they voted for won.” (That party, the archconservative, U.S.-friendly, and pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party, crows about a mandate after sweeping recent elections.) He is wearing a tight-fitting gray hoodie, pitch-black jeans and sunglasses, and a white surgical mask. It’s not always easy to hear him through the mask, so he tugs it down a bit when his speech quickens in anger. “Maybe it’s true that there’s no political party you can count on, but it’s more than that. It’s fear. It’s Japanese people never doubting their leaders. Looking out at Shibuya, I’m sure that nobody out there remembers the idea of radiation anymore. People abroad know more about the crisis in Fukushima than the Japanese. The Japanese are trying to forget. I want to make them remember.”

Anti Nuke is an active Twitter user, but when he first started posting his art, he received death threats so virulent that last year he temporarily took down his Twitter and Facebook accounts and started hiding all of his personal information. Even now, his Web site is often hacked. In public, when he is not cloaked by hoodie, sunglasses, and mask, he wears a full-body hazmat suit. As for his method: “Stickers are better than graffiti,” he says, “because they are faster to apply. You just stick them on and run off. And I use very simple English to be direct, without nuances. Like, ‘I hate rain.’ In Japanese, it’s ‘Watashi wa ame ga kirai.’ So in Japanese, you really need to talk about who hates rain, and why, and in what context. But in English it’s more iconic. There’s more room for the imagination, and that’s powerful.”

281_Anti Nuke’s work is about to reach more people via exhibitions in the New York and Los Angeles, and a documentary film about his art directed by Storey will début in festivals next year. “His mission is personal,” says Storey. “He wants people to think about the same things he’s thinking about, but, like he said to me many times, it’s about the future of his children. It’s the future of everybody’s children in Japan. He doesn’t want to make a name for himself.”

Perhaps. But donning hoodies, shades, and surgical masks, not to mention the occasional hazmat suit, is an odd strategy for anonymity. “It’s fine if I become famous if it helps communicate this huge problem,” Anti Nuke concedes. “There are bigger problems in Fukushima than we know now. I’m sure of that. I’ve communicated with people there. I have family there. The Japanese government will not save them, and since the survivors cannot escape, Fukushima people hate Tokyo people for the electricity they use and cannot conserve.”

He insists that he is not anti-American, just pro-truth. “I love the American people, but I want them to help save Japan. This time, it’s the Japanese people who are to blame. We’re not aware, and we are actively trying to forget. We need foreigners to save us from ourselves.”

http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/an-interview-with-281_anti-nuke

https://fr.pinterest.com/0xf2xv5378195w/281_antinuke/

 

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear disaster of a different kind

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JAPANESE corporate giant Toshiba has announced that its Westinghouse nuclear power unit has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US, largely due to massive cost overruns for four reactor projects the company is building in South Carolina and Georgia. The financial loss to Toshiba is estimated to be about 1 trillion yen (about $9 billion) for the fiscal year that ended yesterday (March 31), which would be one of, if not the biggest, annual loss in Japanese corporate history.

Officials at both W estinghouse and parent company Toshiba are optimistic that the collapse is not total; the financial problems are rooted in Westinghouse’s construction division, while its nuclear fuel and plant operations/maintenance segments remain relatively profitable. On the other hand, the bankruptcy filing is glaring evidence that these same people have been very wrong before; every other objective indicator suggests that Westinghouse’s fall may be a fatal blow to what nuclear advocates were hoping would be a bit of a renaissance for nuclear power worldwide.

The Westinghouse Electric Company LLC is a remnant of the fabled US corporate giant Westinghouse, which was founded in 1886. Through the mid-1990s the original company was gradually broken up and sold off; the brand is still well known worldwide – mainly in household appliances and certain kinds of industrial equipment – but is owned and produced by a variety of unrelated parent companies. The nuclear power business has historically been one of Westinghouse’s strengths, and reached its zenith during the 1970s; a majority of the several dozen operating nuclear reactors in the US were built by Westinghouse, and it built reactors in several other countries. The mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) here in the Philippines is a Westinghouse product.

The company has over the years become embroiled in controversy at times – the BNPP being one example – but on the whole remained fairly sound, and was considered a good investment when it was purchased in 1999 by British Nuclear Fuels Limited (BNFL). BNFL in turn sold Westinghouse to Toshiba in 2006 for $5.4 billion, just at a time when the prevailing view was that nuclear power was about to undergo a resurgence; China, the US and the UK were all then planning to invest heavily in new nuclear power facilities.

Toshiba thought they had a gold mine on their hands. Westinghouse had a new, marketable reactor design – the AP1000 – which had become the first Generation III+ design to receive final design approval from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2004. The Japanese parent company sold 10 percent of its stake to the Kazakh national uranium company (Kazatomprom) in 2007 to secure a fuel source and strengthen its supply line, and in the same year won a bid from the China National Nuclear Corporation for construction of four AP1000 reactors and transfer of the AP1000 technology. In 2008, Westinghouse won a contract from Georgia Power Company to build two AP1000 reactors in that state and a second contract to build two more in South Carolina; two years later, the US government announced it would provide $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to complete the Georgia plant.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 and the boom in natural gas production in the US had a chilling effect on the plans for new nuclear plants in the US. Even without Fukushima raising safety concerns, nuclear plants suddenly became unreasonably expensive compared with gas-fired plants, which put a bit of pressure on Westinghouse. What really sank the company, however, was the enormous cost and schedule overruns at its Georgia and South Carolina projects. Both were expected to cost about $14 billion each, and be operational by the end of last year; so far, they have cost $19 billion and $22 billion, respectively, and are two years or more behind schedule.

To make matters worse, the financial trouble at Westinghouse has raised old, but still not completely answered, questions from regulators – in the US, the UK, and China – about the safety of the AP1000 reactors. Up to now, most of those concerns have been deflected, but what is likely to happen now, even if Westinghouse can continue to satisfactorily convince governments and potential operators of the system’s safety, is that uncertainty over whether the company – or more likely, whoever buys the ailing unit from Toshiba – can be relied on to keep up standards is going to make big customers look elsewhere. And once they do, they are likely to prefer the more economical and less contentious path countries like the US are taking, turning to gas generation or expanding renewables.

http://www.manilatimes.net/nuclear-disaster-different-kind/320327/

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Real cost of Fukushima disaster to reach $626 billion. Think tank estimate triple that of government

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A Tokyo-based think tank estimates that the complete cost of dealing with the Fukushima disaster could reach ¥70 trillion.

 

Fukushima nuclear disaster aftermath cost estimated at Y70 trillion

TOKYO —The total cost to deal with the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster has been estimated at 70 trillion yen ($626 billion), over three times more than the government calculation, a study by a private think tank showed Saturday.

The Japan Center for Economic Research said total costs at the Fukushima nuclear complex operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc could rise to between 50 trillion and 70 trillion yen. It compares with the roughly 22 trillion yen a government panel estimated in December.

If costs rise, the public burden could greatly increase. The country’s nuclear policy needs to be reviewed,” the JCER said.

Initially in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, the government expected the costs to total 11 trillion.

But a study by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry showed the figure could be double the sum estimated in 2013.

Following that, the government decided to raise electricity rates to secure the money necessary to cover compensation payments, increasing the national burden.

Among the costs, the bill for compensation has been estimated at 8 trillion yen by the ministry. The JCER also adopted the figure.

The JCER, however, estimated costs for decontamination work at 30 trillion yen, compared with the government’s figure of 6 trillion yen, after the think tank made a calculation under a presumption that radioactive substances are disposed of at a facility in Rokkasho village in Aomori Prefecture.

The government is seeking a way to treat waste in Fukushima Prefecture, including radioactive soil, of which the amount could add up to roughly 22 million cubic meters, but where and how it will be disposed of has yet to be decided. Costs related to the procedure are not included in the government’s calculation.

Costs for decommissioning crippled reactors, which is expected to take 30 to 40 years, were estimated by the center at 11 trillion yen, compared with the government’s 8 trillion yen.

Expenses to treat contaminated water that remains in tanks at the plant were estimated by the center at 20 trillion yen unless the toxic water is released in the ocean after being diluted as nuclear regulation authorities recommend.

https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-aftermath-cost-estimated-at-y70-tril

 

Real cost of Fukushima disaster will reach ¥70 trillion, or triple government’s estimate: think tank

A private think tank says the total cost of the Fukushima disaster could reach ¥70 trillion ($626 billion), or more than three times the government’s latest estimate.

In a study Saturday, the Japan Center for Economic Research said costs of dealing with the heavily damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. could rise to between ¥50 trillion and ¥70 trillion.

In December, the government estimated the costs would reach roughly ¥22 trillion.

If costs rise, the public burden could greatly increase. The country’s nuclear policy needs to be reviewed,” JCER said.

The government’s initial expectations pegged the costs at ¥11 trillion.

But a study by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said that the final figure could turn out to be double the sum estimated in 2013.

Following that, the government decided to raise electricity rates to secure the money needed to cover compensation payments to the evacuees.

According to METI’s estimates, the bill for compensation payments will be ¥8 trillion, a figure the JCER decided to adopt.

The JCER, however, estimates the cost of the decontamination work will hit ¥30 trillion, or five times more than the government’s estimate of ¥6 trillion. The think tank based this calculation on a presumption that radioactive substances will be disposed of at a nuclear facility in the village of Rokkasho in Aomori Prefecture.

The government is seeking a way to treat radioactive soil and other waste in Fukushima Prefecture that could grow to roughly 22 million cu. meters, but where and how to dispose of it has yet to be decided.

Costs related to this procedure are not included in the government’s calculations.

In the meantime, JCER estimates that the cost of decommissioning the crippled reactors, which is expected to take 30 to 40 years, will reach ¥11 trillion. The government’s estimate is ¥8 trillion.

JCER also estimates that treating the contaminated water stored in hundreds of tanks at the plant will cost ¥20 trillion unless it is dumped into the ocean after being diluted as recommended by regulators.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/01/national/real-cost-fukushima-disaster-will-reach-%C2%A570-trillion-triple-governments-estimate-think-tank/#.WN_DfVBtn64

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima residents to return six years after nuclear meltdown

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Fukushima, Japan is set to welcome back residents after the nuclear power station disaster in 2011 deserted 70 percent of the area.

Six years after a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami rocked Japan and triggered a meltdown of the power station, the majority of the affected residents within the Fukushima prefecture can return home following forced evacuation orders, The Asahi Shimbun reports.

Residents of the towns Namie, Iitate, and the Yamakiya district in the town of Kawamata, totalling 22,100 people, were told they could return home Friday – with the exception of some no-go zones where radiation levels are still too high, according to Nippon.com.

Further evacuation orders were lifted for the town of Tomioka on Saturday. Residents took part in a candlelight vigil on Friday night in memory of those who died in the disaster, thought to number more than 8,000.

 

So far, the homecoming has not been as successful as government officials had hoped, as not many people are willing to go back. In fact, only 14.5 percent of residents have returned to areas that previously had their evacuation orders lifted, according to the Japan Times.

The government’s fiscal 2017 budget set aside 23.6 billion yen ($212 million) to restore the healthcare system and other essential facilities to encourage the return of evacuees.

Okuma and Futaba, the two towns closest to the Fukushima nuclear plant, are the only remaining municipalities still deemed as “difficult-to-return zones.”

Activist hunters have started culling radioactive boars that freely roam the ghost towns near the crippled power plant in anticipation of returning residents.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster, which brought about the closure of all of Japan’s 44 working reactors, is said to be the world’s second worst after the 1986 Chernobyl tragedy.

https://www.rt.com/news/383053-fukushima-residents-return-japan/#.WOCSbF0ln18.facebook

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Bill

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Six years after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster, Westinghouse and Toshiba join Tokyo Electric Power in a fight for survival.

Six years after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident three global nuclear corporations are fighting for their very survival.

The bankruptcy filing by Westinghouse Electric Co. and its parent company Toshiba Corp. preparing to post losses of ¥1 trillion (US$9 billion), is a defining moment in the global decline of the nuclear power industry.

However, whereas the final financial meltdown of Westinghouse and Toshiba will likely be measured in a few tens of billions of dollars, those losses are but a fraction of what Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) is looking at as a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

If the latest estimates for the cost of cleaning up the Fukushima plant prove accurate, Tepco faces the equivalent of a Toshiba meltdown every year until 2087.

In November 2016, the Japanese Government announced a revised estimate for the Fukushima nuclear accident (decommissioning, decontamination, waste management and compensation) of ¥21.5 trillion (US$193 billion) – a doubling of their estimate in 2013.

But the credibility of the government’s numbers have been questioned all along, given that the actual ‘decommissioning’ of the Fukushima plant and its three melted reactors is entering into an engineering unkown.

This questioning was borne out by the November doubling of cost estimates after only several years into the accident, when there is every prospect Tepco will be cleaning up Fukushima well into next century.

And sure enough, a new assessment published in early March from the Japan Institute for Economic Research, estimates that total costs for decommissioning, decontamination and compensation as a result of the Fukushima atomic disaster could range between ¥50-70 trillion (US$449-628 billion).

Rather than admit that the Fukushima accident is effectively the end of Tepco as a nuclear generating company, the outline of a restructuring plan was announced last week.

Tepco Holdings, the entity established to manage the destroyed nuclear site, and the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF) are seeking ways to sustain the utility in the years ahead, confronted as they are with escalating Fukushima costs and electricity market reform.

The NDF, originally established by the Government in 2011 to oversee compensation payments and to secure electricity supply, had its scope broadened in 2014 to oversee decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi plant on the Pacific Ocean coast north of Tokyo.

The latest restructuring plan is intended to find a way forward for Tepco by securing a future for its nuclear, transmission and distribution businesses. If possible in combination with other energy companies in Japan.

But the plan, already received less than warmly by other utilities rightly concerned at being burdened with Tepco’s liabilities, is premised on Fukushima cost estimates of ¥21.5 trillion — not ¥50-70 trillion.

To date Tepco’s Fukushima costs have been covered by interest-free government loans, with ¥6 trillion (US$57 billion) already paid out. Since 2012 Tepco’s electricity ratepayers have paid ¥2.4 trillion to cover nuclear-related costs, including the Fukushima accident site.

That is nothing compared to the costs looming over future decades and beyond and it comes at a time when Tepco and other electric utilities are under commercial pressure as never before.

The commercial pressure comes from electricity market reform that since April 2016 allowed consumers to switch from the monopoly utilities to independent power providers.

Prior to the deregulation of the retail electricity market, Tepco had 22 million customers. As the Tepco president observed late last year “The number (of customers leaving Tepco) is changing every day as the liberalization continues … We will of course need to think of ways to counter that competition.”

Countering that competition shouldn’t mean rigging the market, yet Tepco and the other utilities intend to try and retain their decades long dominance of electricity by retaining control over access to the grid. This is a concerted push back against the growth of renewable energy.

Current plans to open the grid to competition in 2020, so called legal unbundling, are essential to wrest control from the big utilities.

The message of unbundling and independence, however, doesn’t seem to have reached the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) that oversees the electricity industry.

Current plans would allow Tepco to establish separate legal entities: Tepco Fuel & Power (thermal power generation), Tepco Energy Partner (power distribution) and Tepco Power Grid (power transmission).

Tepco Holdings will retain their stock and control their management, meaning the same monopoly will retain control of the grid. Where Tepco leads, the other nine electric utilities are aiming to follow.

Leaving the grid effectively still under the control of the traditional utilities will throw up a major obstacle to large scale expansion of renewable energy sources from new companies.

Such businesses will be ‘curtailed’ or stopped from supplying electricity to the grid when the large utilities decide it’s necessary, justified for example to maintain the stability of the grid.

The fact that ‘curtailment’ will be permitted in many regions without financial compensation piles further pain onto new entrants to the electricity market, and by extension consumers.

Further, METI plans to spread the escalating costs of Fukushima so that other utilities and new power companies pay a proportion of compensation costs. METI’s justification for charging customers of new energy companies is that they benefited from nuclear power before the market opened up.

The need to find someone else to pay for Tepco’s mess is underscored by the breakdown of the Fukushima disaster cost estimate in November.

When put at ¥22 trillion estimate, ¥16 trillion is supposed to be covered by Tepco. The Ministry of Finance is to offer ¥2 trillion for decontamination, and the remaining ¥4 trillion is to be provided by other power companies and new electricity providers.

The question is how does Tepco cover its share of the costs when it’s losing customers and its only remaining nuclear plant in Japan, Kashiwazaki Kariwa (the worlds largest), has no prospect of restarting operation due to local opposition?

What happens when Fukushima costs rise to the levels projected of ¥50-70 trillion?

The policy measures being put in place by Tepco, other utilities and the government suggests that they know what is coming and their solution for paying for the world’s most costly industrial accident will be sticking both hands into the public purse,

http://www.atimes.com/article/tepcos-fukushima-expensive-industrial-accident-history/

April 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Back to the bad old days of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD)

WHAT’S DRIVING WORLD BACK TO MAD OLD DAYS OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS? http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2083538/opinion-whats-driving-world-back-mad-old-days-nuclear-weapons  World leaders led by US president Donald Trump seem willing to put social issues on the back burner while they – irrationally – prepare for Armageddon, BY CHOW CHUNG-YAN 2 APR 2017 It can be hard not to lose heart these days after going through daily news headlines. Sometimes history seems to be moving backwards. The absurdity often makes one wonder if the world is going mad.

Among the crazy things that took place this week, here is one that is not getting much attention: the United Nations called for a meeting on Tuesday to continue negotiations for a legally binding ban on nuclear weapons, but nearly 40 countries – including the US, China, Russia, Britain and France – decided to skip it. None of the participants from the 100 countries attending the meeting belong to the group of states in possession of nuclear weapons.

US envoy Nikki Haley explained afterwards that national security concerns required Washington to keep its nuclear weapons because of “bad actors” who could not be trusted…

China, Russia, Britain and other nuclear powers did not even talk to the media.

If Kim Jong-un were watching the news, he would probably have a big smirk on his face. Yes, Kim is a cold-blooded power-hungry maniac. But judging from what happened on Tuesday, leaders of the world’s major capitals are probably just as callous.

While North Korea is aspiring to build a few nuclear bombs, the big five – US, China, Russia, France and Britain – are sitting on arsenals that between them could destroy this planet many times over. Still, none of them feel they have enough.

For those born in the 1980s or later, the threat of a nuclear war seems remote. But for older generations, such a threat was once very real. But for older generations, such a threat was once very real. From the end of the second world war until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, fears of a nuclear Armageddon were widespread.

At the peak of the cold war, all major powers devoted precious national resources to building their nuclear capacities, with the US and the USSR leading the race. The atomic bombs the US dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the second world war were powerful, but they were mere popguns compared to the thermonuclear weapons of the cold war era.

The cold war stand-off established the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) doctrine. According to MAD, major nuclear powers would refrain from direct conflict because a nuclear exchange would result in the complete annihilation of both sides. Some historians credited this balance of nuclear deterrence as an important factor behind the longest period of peace in modern history, with no war breaking out between major powers for almost 70 years.

Dread of a nuclear holocaust forced world leaders to cool the hysteria. The end of the cold war brought brief hopes of optimism. But today, the situation is getting more dangerous. Globally, annual expenditure on nuclear weapons is estimated at US$105 billion. In comparison, the Office for Disarmament Affairs, the principal UN body responsible for advancing a nuclear-weapon-free world, has an annual budget of US$10 million.

Two studies, one by the Brookings Institution and another by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recently drew the same conclusion: governments around the world are going to spend a crazy amount of money on nuclear weapons in the next decade.

Together, nine major nuclear countries will spend a staggering US$1 trillion on new research, production and maintenance of nuclear arms over the next 10 years. At a time of economic crises and imposed austerity measures, world leaders led by US president Donald Trump have decided to cut investment on education, health care and climate change so that we can have more powerful weapons of mass destruction.

Last year, Washington gave the green light to a new generation of “smart” nuclear bombs – the B61-12s – which will be the most expensive ever produced. Moscow and Beijing both expressed concerns and hinted they would respond in kind. This year, Chinese scientists announced a theoretical breakthrough in developing the so-called “N2 bomb” – a new type of weapon of mass destruction that is as strong as a nuclear bomb but produces no radioactive fallout.

The chance of a hot nuclear war among major powers remains astronomically small. The only real reason for them to continue pouring precious resources into the arms race is because they cannot break out of their cold war mentalities.

Today, terrorism, climate change and contagious diseases are much bigger and more realistic threats to the world than invasion by Moscow or a nuclear war between Beijing and Washington.

The only real nightmare is for such weapons to fall into the hands of terrorists.

No matter how much major powers improve their nuclear arsenals, it will not deter terrorists – there is no such thing as nuclear retaliation against people who want to see the world blow up.

A World Bank study estimated that if governments cut their spending on nuclear weapons by half and used the money on poverty alleviation, it would have been possible to achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

It would be naïve to ask the major powers to give up their nuclear weapons, but if they could divert more resources to fighting poverty, terrorism and global warming, we would have a much safer, better world.  Chow Chung-yan is the executive editor of the South China Morning Post, overseeing daily print and digital operations

April 3, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Britain’s airports and nuclear power stations have been placed on a terror alert – cyber threat

UK airports and nuclear power stations on terror alert after ‘credible’ cyber threat http://metro.co.uk/2017/04/02/uk-airports-and-nuclear-power-stations-on-terror-alert-after-credible-cyber-threat-6548381  
Britain’s airports and nuclear power stations have been placed on a terror alert following increased threats to electronic security systems.  Security services have issued a series of alerts in the past 24 hours, warning airports and nuclear power plants to tighten their defences against terror attacks.

Intelligence agencies fear ISIS and other terrorist groups could have developed ways to plant explosives in laptops and mobile phones which can bypass airport security screening methods, the Telegraph reports. Last month, Britain and the US banned travellers from a number of countries carrying laptops and large electronic devices on board.

They also fear terrorists, foreign spies and hackers could try to break into nuclear power station security systems.

Jesse Norman, the energy minister, said nuclear plants must ensure they ‘remain resilient to evolving cyber threats’.

Mr Norman told the paper: ‘The Government is fully committed to defending the UK against cyber threats, with a £1.9 billion investment designed to transform this country’s cyber security.’

Terrorists are feared to have developed the technology after getting hold of airport screening equipment allowing them to experiment.

FBI experts have tested how explosives can be hidden inside laptop battery compartments so that it can still be turned on.They are said to have concluded that the technique would be achievable using everyday equipment.

In a statement, the US Department of Homeland Security said: ‘Evaluated intelligence indicates that terrorist groups continue to target commercial aviation, to include smuggling explosive devices in electronics.

‘The US government continually reassesses existing intelligence and collects new intelligence. ‘This allows us to constantly evaluate our aviation security processes and policies and make enhancements when they are deemed necessary to keep passengers safe.’

Last year al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate group in Somalia, detonated a bomb on a flight from Mogadishu to Djibouti by hiding it in a part of a laptop where bomb-makers had removed a DVD drive.

April 3, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

A Nuclear Rallying Cry from atomic bomb survivors

Survivors Speak Out As UN Negotiates Nuke Ban, Huffington Post, By Ariel Conn,31 Mar 17 “…….A Nuclear Rallying Cry

Not surprisingly, the horror of the effect nuclear bombs have on children provides some of the most compelling arguments for a ban treaty.

Fujimori Toshiki, a Hibakusha (survivor of the bombs dropped on Japan), described his personal experience to the General Assembly at the very start of the negotiations. He was a baby at the time, and he and his mother were just far enough away from the blast that a two-story home protected them somewhat.

“I had my entire body covered with bandages,” said Toshiki, “with only eyes, nose, and mouth uncovered. Everybody thought I would die over time. Yet, I survived. It is a miracle. I am here at the U.N., asking for an abolition of nuclear weapons. I am convinced that this is a mission I am given as a survivor of the atomic bomb.”

His 13-year-old sister was not so lucky. She was one of 6,300 teenagers to die near the blast site because their schools had sent them there to help “create firesafe [sic] areas against air raids.”

Toshiki added, “Every year, on Aug. 6, my mother would gather all of us children and would talk to us about her experience in tears. I once asked my mother why she would speak about it if recalling the experience makes her suffer. ‘I can’t make you go through the same experience.’ That was her answer. Her tears were her heartfelt appeal. She called, as a mother, for a world with no more hell on earth.”

Setsuko Thurlow, another Hibakusha, was also 13 when the bombs fell. She described witnessing the slow death of her 4-year-old nephew Eiji. He was “transformed into a charred, blackened and swollen child who kept asking in a faint voice for water until he died in agony.”

Thurlow continued, “Regardless of the passage of time, he remains in my memory as a 4-year-old child who came to represent all the innocent children of the world. And it is this death of innocents that has been the driving force for me to continue my struggle against the ultimate evil of nuclear weapons.”

However, unlike the stories of landmines and cluster munitions, which told of present-day children suffering and dying, these stories are over 70 years old. It can be difficult to relate to events that happened so long ago and that most people believe has not ― and cannot ― be repeated.

But Sue Coleman-Haseldine told the assembly of stories and concerns that were more recent. Coleman-Haseldine is an Aboriginal who lived near the atomic weapons testing sites in Australia. She was two when the testing first began in the 1950s.

“Our district is full of cancer now,” she said.

She continued, “I grew up hearing about the bombs, but I didn’t know about how the sickness went through the generations. When mining companies started eyeing off areas of my country I started to look more into it and I went to an Australian Nuclear Free Alliance meeting to learn more about fighting mining companies but also radiation fallout. What I learnt devastated me. To find out that our bush foods were possibly contaminated was a real blow to me.”

“I am a mother, grandmother and great grandmother,” she added. “My third great grandson was born just recently. And now I am here, speaking about the past [and] present day problems and what we want for the future. I’m fighting for all my grandchildren and all the children of the world.” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/survivors-speak-out-as-un-negotiates-nuke-ban_us_58dd5552e4b0fa4c0959872b?

April 3, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Speak up for science! urges Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall Wants You To Stand Up To Those Who Belittle Science http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/jane-goodall-march-for-science_us_58dfa6c7e4b0b3918c83e5ba The famed conservationist is supporting this month’s “March for Science” amid Donald Trump’s push to derail climate action.

 02/04/2017 WASHINGTON — Famed anthropologist and conservationist Jane Goodall wants everyone to stand up to those working to undermine scientific research by joining this month’s “March for Science.
 “Many scientists have spent years collecting information about the effect of human actions on the climate,” said Goodall, who turns 83 on Monday. “There’s no question that the climate is changing, I’ve seen it all over the world. And the fact that people can deny that humans have influenced this change in climate is quite frankly absurd.”

The video message comes a few days after Goodall, a United Nations “messenger of peace,” traveled to Washington, D.C., where she spoke with media before addressing students at American University. That same day, President Donald Trump, who’s described climate change as a “bullshit” “hoax” and who’s vowed to withdraw the U.S. from the historic Paris climate agreement, signed an executive order to reverse Obama-era policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Asked by The Huffington Post about Trump’s climate actions, Goodall called them “immensely disturbing.” However, she believes the Trump administration has woken people up, citing the numerous marches and demonstrations.

The “March for Science” is supported by a nonpartisan coalition of scientific groups and is scheduled for Earth Day — April 22. While the main rally will occur in Washington, D.C., satellite marches have been organized in more than 400 locations around the globe. The D.C. event is “a call for politicians to implement science-based policies, as well as a public celebration of science and the enormous public service it provides in our democracy, our economy, and in all our daily lives,” according to the official website of the march.

“I really hope that everybody who can will take part in this march,” Goodall said. “I so wish I could be marching with you. I can’t, I will be far away. But there will be a cardboard, life-size Jane marching, showing everybody that I want to be there and that I shall be there with you all in spirit.”

April 3, 2017 Posted by | ACTION | Leave a comment

In Trump’s America, freedom of speech, whistleblowing, is stifled for government employees

Paul WaldonFight To Stop Nuclear Waste Dump In Flinders Ranges SA  March 30 17

Since Trump came to power, the American supreme court has now ruled that a government employee does NOT have protection of the first amendment (freedom of speech). Jeff Ruch executive director for Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) who describes PEER as a “shelter for battered staff” said government workers have fewer rights with freedom of speech than a incarcerated person in a penitentiary.

If you are wondering what the big picture is in this story, it stifles a whistle blower’s resolve to engender the hidden facts in the safety of nuclear, medicine, air travel or any other industry where the government has their foot in the door. Some people may not give a damn what happens in America but this impacts on every man, woman and child on this planet. https://www.facebook.com/groups/344452605899556/

April 3, 2017 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Just Cool It! -Saving the planet from climate change requires action – now

How to fix the future: saving the planet from climate change requires action – now, write David Suzuki and Ian Hannington , SMH, 1 Apr 17 

With rapidly accelerating climate change threatening the very future of humanity, it will take nothing short of a revolution to turn things around. The degree of hardship and sacrifice that will entail depends on the determination, speed, and comprehensiveness of our actions. Employing a broad range of available solutions as quickly and as widely as possible could ensure that we build a healthier, cleaner world with greater equity.

The main solutions are those that will shift us away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible. Conserving energy is key, as is continuing to develop clean energy sources. The fastest-growing and most promising technologies are wind and solar, but geothermal, tidal, and some types of hydro are all important as well. Biofuels show some promise, as long as valuable land for food production isn’t taken over to produce them.

As well as shifting away from fossil fuels, it’s important to protect, restore, and, in some cases, build carbon sinks — forests, wetlands, and other green spaces that absorb and store carbon. Agricultural practices also play a big role, as agriculture is a main contributor to global warming. Reducing livestock production, enhancing soils, and focusing on local production are just some ways to reduce the impacts of growing and producing food. Personal solutions are also crucial. Reducing reliance on private automobiles, conserving energy, and reducing or eliminating animal products from our diets can all help. Stabilising human population growth is also crucial. Giving women more rights over their own bodies, providing equal opportunity for them to participate in society, and making education and birth control widely available will help slow population growth and create numerous other benefits.

Many of the solutions require international, national, and local governance regulations and incentives. One thing is certain: If we continue to focus on building pipelines to get “product” to market, if we continue to dig up oil sands, frack, drill in deep water, and tear up the Arctic, we will face extreme hardship and sacrifice and possibly unimaginable catastrophe as nature corrects the imbalance we created with our greed, ignorance, and hubris. ………http://www.smh.com.au/environment/how-to-fix-the-future-saving-the-planet-from-climate-change-requires-action–now-write-david-suzuki-and-ian-hannington-20170327-gv75h8.html

April 3, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment