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Wildfire rages in highly radioactive Fukushima mountain forest

This is bad news. Fires like this in contaminated forests aerosolize the radiation that covers the plants and has been taken up in the soil and redistributes it through the smoke. It makes no sense to bring people back to the territories in the vicinity of the highly radio-contaminated forests.

 

NAMIE, Fukushima — A fire broke out in a mountain forest near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on the evening of April 29, consuming an area approximately 20 hectares in size, according to prefectural authorities.

The fire started on 448-meter-high Mount Juman in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, prompting the prefectural government to request the dispatch of the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF) on a disaster relief mission on April 30. A total of eight helicopters from Fukushima, Miyagi and Gunma prefectures as well as the SDF discharged water on the site to combat the fire.

As the fire continued to spread, however, helicopters from the GSDF, Fukushima Prefecture and other parties on May 1 resumed fire extinguishing operations from around 5 a.m.

The area is designated as a “difficult-to-return zone” due to high radiation levels from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, and entry into the area is barred in principle.

According to the Fukushima Meteorological Office, a lightning advisory had been issued for the town of Namie when the fire broke out, and Fukushima Prefectural Police suspect that lightning was to blame for the blaze as they continue to investigate the cause of the incident.

As of May 1, there were no major changes to radiation levels in the heart of Namie and other areas near the fire scene, according to the Ministry of the Environment.

“We will continue to closely watch changes in radiation doses in the surrounding areas,” said a ministry official.

http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170501/p2a/00m/0na/003000c

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May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Transfer sites for 610 tons of spent nuclear fuel undecided; decommissioning plans may be affected

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Spent nuclear fuel is stored in a pool at the La Hague reprocessing facility in northwestern France in October. It is one of the most dangerous sites in the world, with its 10,000 tons of spent fuel. We were afraid of the Fukushima Daiichi fuel pool 4  but it was nothing: The whole fuel of the Hague corresponds to radiotoxicity 360 times greater than Chernobyl.

 

About 610 tons of spent nuclear fuel stored at seven of the 17 reactors in Japan that are set to be decommissioned have no fixed transfer destination, it was learned Sunday, threatening to hold up the decommissioning process.

If it remains undecided where to transfer the spent nuclear fuel, work to dismantle reactor buildings and other structures may not be carried out as planned.

The tally excludes the six reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, which was heavily damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The seven reactors are the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Fugen advanced converter reactor, the agency’s Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, Japan Atomic Power Co.’s reactor 1 at its Tsuruga plant, reactors 1 and 2 of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama plant, reactor 1 of Chugoku Electric Power Co.’s Shimane plant and reactor 1 of Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai plant, according to the companies and the agency.

The Fugen reactor has 70 tons of spent mixed-oxide, or MOX, fuel, a blend of uranium and plutonium recycled from spent nuclear fuel.

The agency has abandoned its plans to move the MOX fuel out of the reactor site in the current fiscal year to March 2018. It has considered consigning the reprocessing of the fuel overseas but a contract has not been signed yet.

The agency’s schedule to finish the decommissioning work by fiscal 2033 has remained unchanged, but an official admitted that the timetable will be affected if a decision on where to transfer the spent fuel is not made.

As for the trouble-prone Monju reactor, the agency has yet to submit a decommissioning program to authorities. How to deal with 22 tons of spent MOX fuel at the reactor is a major issue.

The Mihama No. 1 reactor has 75.7 tons of spent conventional nuclear fuel and 1.3 tons of spent MOX fuel, while the No. 2 reactor has 202 tons of spent nuclear fuel. Kansai Electric plans to take them out of Fukui Prefecture, which hosts the power plant, by fiscal 2035, but the transfer location has not yet been selected.

At the Tsuruga plant’s reactor 1, Japan Atomic Power plans to transfer 31.1 tons of the reactor’s 50-ton spent nuclear fuel to the fuel pool of reactor 2, with the rest to be transported by fiscal 2026 to a Japan Nuclear Fuel reprocessing plant under construction in the village of Rokkasho in Aomori Prefecture.

After being postponed more than 20 times, the completion of the reprocessing plant is currently slated for the first half of fiscal 2018 and the blueprint is undergoing screenings by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, a nuclear watchdog.

As nuclear fuel cannot be brought into the reprocessing plant until it starts operations after receiving all necessary regulatory approval, it is uncertain whether the Tsuruga reactor fuel can be transferred as planned.

Chugoku Electric aims to transfer 122.7 tons of spent nuclear fuel at its Shimane plant’s reactor 1 to the Rokkasho reprocessing plant by fiscal 2029.

Kyushu Electric hopes to take 97.2 tons of spent nuclear fuel at the Genkai reactor 1 out of its fuel pool by fiscal 2029, but the destination has not been fixed.

At three other nuclear plants with reactors set to be decommissioned, spent nuclear fuel is mostly planned to be moved out of the current pools to other pools within the same plant.

In the case of Tepco’s disaster-stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant, the site of the 2011 triple meltdown accident, where the 2,130 tons of spent nuclear fuel will be transferred to has yet to be decided.

Still, the decommissioning work for the six reactors there will not be affected in any significant way for the time being, as more urgent tasks, such as a survey of melted fuel, have been given higher priority, officials said.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/04/30/national/transfer-sites-610-tons-spent-nuclear-fuel-undecided-decommissioning-plans-may-affected/#.WQa0fZxJfbI.facebook

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

‘Yoshida’s Dilemma: One Man’s Struggle to Avert Nuclear Catastrophe’: But for him, Fukushima could have been much worse

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Hero: Masao Yoshida disregarded orders to abandon the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The actions of him and his team are credited with averting further disaster.

Disaster response, even at its most heroic, can fall to people who would rather be somewhere else.

So it was for Masao Yoshida, who, while helming the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant during the disaster in 2011, gave the groan, “Why does this happen on my shift?”

But in some ways Yoshida, an industry veteran of 32 years, was the right man to handle the crisis. His leadership during those days on the edge, at times in defiance of orders from the top of the utility that employed him, is at the center of Rob Gilhooly’s new book “Yoshida’s Dilemma: One Man’s Struggle to Avert Nuclear Catastrophe.”

Gilhooly writes from the eye of the storm, putting the reader in the plant’s control room with almost claustrophobic immediacy. One of his challenges was to render the emergency in real-time. How much can prose, moving forward in measured steps, convey a lethal technology unraveling in extremis? How do you convey the breakdown of machinery without getting mired in technical detail?

“It was difficult,” says Gilhooly, who spent almost four years researching and writing the book. “What struck me about the plant workers — it sounded like complete chaos. My decision was not to make it sound orderly. I wanted it to appear chaotic, without the writing becoming chaotic itself. I tore my hair out over the technical details, because I wanted the book to be readable.”

In the end, the book is a cumulative experience — an intense ride that rewards endurance. Gilhooly weaves in the history of nuclear energy in Japan, interviews with experts and re-created conversations among the plant workers.

“Yoshida was a straight talker from Osaka — a larger-than-life personality,” says Gilhooly, who interviewed the superintendent off the record. “He was different from the other superintendents, more prepared to stick his neck out. He was sharper, more bloody-minded. When tipping his hat to authority, he may have done so with a quietly raised middle finger.”

This attitude might have saved lives, when, after a hydrogen blast at the No. 1 plant, Tepco HQ in Tokyo ordered staff to evacuate. Yoshida knew that the executives had little idea of what was actually happening at the plant. Going behind the backs of his superiors, he contacted then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan, insisting that leaving the plant would be reckless. The utility also ordered that seawater not be pumped through the reactor as coolant, since that would render it useless for energy generation in the future. Exposed to life-threatening levels of radiation, Yoshida and his team defied the order, scrambling to cool the overheating reactor with seawater.

The desperate move worked. The team managed to cool the reactor, and later the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, which was authorized by the Diet, concluded in its report that “(Yoshida’s) disregard for corporate instructions was possibly the only reason that the reactor cores didn’t explode.”

In Western media coverage of the Fukushima disaster, much was made of Japanese groupthink. A culturally ingrained obedience and a reluctance to question authority was blamed in part for the disaster. Still, the responses vary, and some staff put safety concerns over company loyalty.

“I didn’t want to editorialize,” says Gilhooly, who writes with a calm, thoughtful voice, avoiding the temptation of melodrama. “But yes, Yoshida — and others — refuted the stereotype that was used to explain parts of the disaster.”

Gilhooly is talking to a Japanese publisher, but thinks a translated version may prove difficult: His sources spoke freely about the events at the plant assuming the interviews wouldn’t be published in Japanese. Still, Gilhooly, who takes a stand in the book against using nuclear energy, hopes to fuel the ongoing debate in his adopted home.

“I just wanted to know the truth,” he says. “There is a discussion that needs to happen about nuclear power — about disaster un-preparedness in Japan. I wanted to contribute to that argument. It’s six years on and already we are airbrushing some things out.”

The book points out the gulf between rural Fukushima and the large cities consuming the energy it produced. Gilhooly talked to Atsufumi Yoshizawa, Yoshida’s deputy at the plant, who recalled the first home leave with his boss, a month after the disaster:

“Tokyo was … as though nothing had happened. They were selling things as usual, women were walking around with high heels and makeup as usual, while we didn’t even have our own clothes (which had been contaminated). I remember thinking, ‘What the hell is this? How can it be so different?’ I realized just how useless it would be to try and explain the situation at the plant to these people, what we had been through and the fear we had faced.”

It is a punch in the gut, then, to read about Yoshida’s death from esophageal cancer at age 58, just two years after his exposure to radiation. It’s one of the many elements of the Fukushima crisis that stirs anger, demanding a change that honors the lessons and sacrifice.

Gilhooly points out that, unlike Yoshida in the stricken plant, Japan has the chance to make positive choices about the future, choices that should be informed by the suffering in Fukushima.

“We should think more about how we use energy,” he concludes. “There are things we can do better, with small changes in lifestyle.”

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/culture/2017/04/29/books/book-reviews/yoshidas-dilemma-one-mans-struggle-avert-nuclear-catastrophe-fukushima-much-worse/

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May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

14 microSv/h 5cm above from street-side soil Namie, Fukushima

From Birdhairjp

On 22 Apr 2017, I measured radiation in front of a temple of Onoda area,
Namie town of Fukushima prefecture Japan.

I monitored 0.94 micro Sievert per hour in air at chest hight
on road side near a utility pole.
And I monitored air dose rate 0.85 micro Sievert on asphalt road pavement.

There is a place, the monitor figures jump up.
There left highly contaminated soil at the street side.
2.3 micro Sievelt per hour, chest height.
13 to 14 micro Sievelt per hour 5 cm height from the soil.
18 to 20 micro Sievelt per hour when the monitor laid directly on the soil.
Soil contaminated with high concentration of radioactive material
It is like hell

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Dispossession or Denuclearization?

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Summary of the book:

The Fukushima nuclear power plant explosions and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are intimately connected events, bound together across time by a nuclear will to power that holds little regard for life itself. In Fukushima: Dispossession or Denuclearization? contributors document and explore diverse dispossession effects stemming from this nuclear will to power, including market distortions, radiation damage to personal property, wrecked livelihoods, and transgenerational mutations potentially eroding human health and happiness. Liberal democratic capitalism is itself disclosed as vulnerable to the corrupting influences of the nuclear will to power. Contributors contend that denuclearization stands as the only viable path forward capable of freeing humans from the catastrophic risks engineered into global nuclear networks. They conclude that the choice of dispossession or denuclearization through the pursuit of alternative technologies will determine human survival across the twenty-first century.

Contributing editors to Fukushima: Dispossession or Denuclearization? are Majia Nadesan, Antony Boys, Andrew McKillop and Richard Wilcox. Harvey Wasserman, Christopher Busby, Paul Langley, Adam Broinowski, Christian Lystbaek, and The Fukushima Five have also contributed chapters. Cover artwork by William Banzai7.

Proceeds from the book:

Proceeds from the book will be donated to the Fukushima Collective Evacuation Trial Team, a team of lawyers who are fighting in the courts in northern Japan to have children in Koriyama City, quite badly contaminated with radiation after the March 11, 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, evacuated to safe areas at government expense. Please see:

http://www.fukushima-sokai.net/ (English)

The group also has a (Japanese) Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/fukushimasokai

We very much hope that you will consider purchasing and reading the book, firstly for the insights it may give you into the significance of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and also to make a donation toward this important trial to help evacuate children to safer areas.

In fact, the group has now decided to link up with the Matsumoto Fund Boarding School Project for Fukushima Kids in order to take practical action to evacuate children from contaminated areas of Fukushima. Please see an English explanation a

http://www.kodomoryugaku-matsumoto.net/?page_id=614

Electronic copy: http://www.lulu.com/shop/nadesan-boys-mckillop-wilcox/fukushima-dispossession-or-denuclearization/ebook/product-21800492.html

Print copy: http://www.lulu.com/shop/nadesanboysmckillopwilcox-editors/fukushima-dispossession-or-denuclearization/paperback/product-21798972.html

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

EDITORIAL: Arrogance and complacency hallmarks of Abe’s leadership

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Masahiro Imamura bows to reporters after submitting his resignation as reconstruction minister to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on April 26.

Masahiro Imamura resigned April 26 as minister in charge of disaster reconstruction amid a public outcry over his latest gaffe concerning people affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 2011.

It was good that it happened over there, in the Tohoku region,” Imamura said of those catastrophic events at a fund-raising function for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party faction to which he belongs.

Imamura’s outrageous comment cast serious doubt on whether he truly comprehends the severity of the disaster, which left nearly 22,000 people dead, including cases attributed indirectly to the disaster, or missing.

He deserves to lose his job.

It was not the first time that Imamura had made an offensive remark about victims of the disaster. In early April, he stated that individuals who had voluntarily evacuated after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were responsible for the situation they faced. “They are responsible for their lives. They can file a lawsuit or do other things (if they disagree with the central government’s position),” he said.

Coming from a minister who was duty-bound to show utmost sympathy for the plight of disaster victims, these remarks were simply unacceptable.

ABE’S COMPLACENCY GALLING

But Prime Minister Shinzo Abe allowed Imamura to remain in the post. It was a clearly misguided decision that reflected Abe’s complacency about his overwhelming political clout due to the ruling camp’s dominance in the Diet.

Imamura’s gaffes are part of a pattern that signal the powerful ruling coalition’s arrogance and conceit.

Yosuke Tsuruho, the minister for Okinawa affairs, is another member of the Abe Cabinet who sparked public outrage.

Asked to comment on an incident in which a riot police officer derided local protesters against U.S. military helipads by calling them “dojin” during a confrontation in Higashi, in the northern part of Okinawa Prefecture, Tsuruho said, “I personally cannot say with certainty that referring to somebody as ‘dojin’ amounts to discrimination.” Tsuruho reiterated that position later on. Dojin is a derogatory word referring to indigenous people, insinuating that they are uncivilized primitives.

Tsuruho has refused to retract his remarks.

Kozo Yamamoto, the state minister in charge of regional revitalization, offered another example when he labeled museum curators as a cancer that must be rooted out. In a lecture at a seminar for regional revitalization, Yamamoto blurted out: “The biggest cancer is curators. They don’t have any ordinary tourism business mind-set whatsoever. We have to get rid of these folks.”

Defense Minister Tomomi Inada made a lame and clumsy excuse when she retracted her remarks denying in the Diet that she had provided legal advice to Yasunori Kagoike, then head of Moritomo Gakuen, a scandal-tainted school operator, admitting that she actually did. “Those responses were based on my memory, so I do not believe I made false responses,” Inada said.

And then there is the matter of Justice Minister Katsutoshi Kaneda, who has repeatedly made contradictory remarks about proposed legislation to punish people who conspired to commit crimes and has kept relying on bureaucrats at his ministry to answer related questions in the Diet.

All these incidents signal a condescending attitude toward the public among members of the Abe Cabinet.

Their failure to see things from the viewpoint of the public is perhaps best demonstrated by the Abe administration’s strong-arm tactics in forging ahead with land reclamation work for a new U.S. military base off the Henoko district of the city of Nago, Okinawa Prefecture, in the face of fierce opposition from the prefectural government and residents.

Abe himself has made many questionable remarks.

One example came last week when he joked using the word “sontaku,” which roughly means conjecture about the wishes of another person to act in line with them. In the scandal over a controversial sale of state-owned land to Moritomo Gakuen at a deep discount, one core question is whether bureaucrats involved in the sale practiced “sontaku” to accommodate the implicit wishes of Abe and his wife, Akie.

Pointing out that a list of famous local specialties around the nation at a commercial outlet in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district didn’t include products from Yamaguchi Prefecture, his electoral constituency, Abe said, “Please do sontaku about what I’ve just said,” evoking laughter from those he was addressing.

POLITICAL DOMINANCE TO BLAME

When a lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party cited in a recent Diet session the results of an opinion poll showing 80 percent of the respondents remain unconvinced by the administration’s explanations about the Moritomo Gakuen scandal, Abe dodged the criticism by pointing out that the same opinion poll also showed that the Cabinet approval rating stood at 53 percent. And he added, “You also know the approval ratings for my Liberal Democratic Party, and your Democratic Party.”

The string of deplorable remarks by ministers appear to echo Abe’s hubris.

Indeed, the Cabinet has been enjoying solid and steady public support. A recent Asahi Shimbun poll showed that this was mainly due to a sense among respondents that it “looks better” than anything the other parties could cobble together.

This suggests that Japanese voters remain somewhat resigned to the sad political reality that there is no opposition party with sufficient clout to replace the government led by Abe, who has built an overwhelming political power base.

Heightened tensions in East Asia, along with Japan’s solid economic performance, powered by growing employment, also appear to be contributing to the public’s unwillingness to change the political status quo.

Another factor behind Abe’s political dominance is the concentration of power in the prime minister’s office due to a series of reforms that started in the late 1980s.

The LDP leadership now has the power to decide the party’s official candidates for elections as well as the allocation of state subsidies received by the party and key bureaucratic appointments. There is widespread reluctance among LDP members to defy the party leadership.

Also, no group within the ruling party is sufficiently powerful to challenge Abe’s leadership. As a result, the tone of criticism within the party against ministers who speak out of turn, let alone Abe’s problematic words and deeds, is only getting weaker.

PARTY INCAPABLE OF SOUL-SEARCHING

The Abe administration’s arrogance and conceit have reached extreme levels.

If we become complacent about our majority control and stop showing humility, we will instantly lose public support.”

This is what Abe said after he led the LDP to victory in the 2014 Lower House election and again after the Diet descended into turmoil over national security legislation.

But he refrained from making a similar comment after the ruling coalition scored a big win in the Upper House poll last year.

Was it because the LDP secured a majority in both Diet chambers for the first time in 27 years?

After Imamura’s resignation, a senior LDP lawmaker made an astonishing statement that showed the party had not undertaken any serious soul-searching.

Commenting on the development, LDP Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai said, “The mass media meticulously records all remarks made by politicians and calls for their immediate resignation if they utter just one improper sentence. What a situation. We would be better off without them (media).”

Did he mean that the news media, not Imamura, is to blame?

Since Abe became prime minister for a second time in late 2012, five members of his Cabinet have stepped down to take responsibility for their inappropriate actions or words.

Every time a member of his Cabinet was forced to bow out, Abe said that he, as prime minister, was responsible for the appointment that had turned out to have been a blunder.

Although he has apoligized to the public for these incidents, Abe has never taken specific action.

Any government becomes complacent and arrogant if it stays in power for too long.

It is up to the people, the holders of sovereign power, to use their voices and take actions to force the government to mend its ways.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201704270030.html

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Watchdog blasts Joyo reactor restart plan as ‘unacceptable’

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The Japan Atomic Energy Agency’ Joyo experimental fast reactor in Ibaraki Prefecture

The nation’s nuclear watchdog has slammed the operator of the Joyo experimental fast reactor in Ibaraki Prefecture for its approach to safety concerns in seeking an early restart.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, on April 26 labeled the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s proposal to bring the reactor back online as “absolutely unacceptable.”

The NRA on April 25 suspended its screening of Joyo’s restart plan based on stricter safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Has the JAEA seriously reflected on the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant?” Tanaka asked at a news conference on April 26. “It said that explaining the restart (to municipalities) would take too much trouble. Its attitude toward the communities is wrong.”

The JAEA has applied to the NRA to restart the reactor with a plan to operate it with a thermal output of 100,000 kilowatts, rather than its full capacity of 140,000 kilowatts.

On April 25, JAEA officials explained that it would be able to restart the reactor faster by limiting the thermal output because that approach would save it time and effort in providing the necessary explanations to municipal authorities.

If the reactor operates with an output of 100,000 kilowatts, only local governments within a 5-kilometer radius of the reactor are required to produce evacuation plans.

However, when operating with an output of 140,000 kilowatts, local entities within a 30-km radius of the reactor are required to come up with evacuation plans.

Using a motorcycle analogy, Tanaka said the JAEA’s plan is tantamount to saying that the operator needs a “license for a 50cc bike as long as it drives a 750cc motorcycle at a speed of 30 kph or under.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201704270036.html

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Pope Francis suggests Norway as mediator, urges a diplomatic solution to North korean nuclear crisis

North Korea: Pope Francis pushes for diplomatic solution to US dispute with reclusive regime http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-30/pope-pushes-for-diplomatic-solution-to-avert-north-korea-war/8483662 Pope Francis says a third country, such as Norway, should try to mediate the dispute between North Korea and Washington to cool a situation that has become “too hot” and poses the risk of nuclear devastation.

Pope Francis said he believed “a good part of humanity” would be destroyed in any widespread war.

Speaking to reporters aboard the plane taking him back from Cairo, Pope Francis also said he was ready to meet US President Donald Trump when he is in Europe next month but that he was not aware that Washington had made a request for a meeting.

In answer to a question about the tensions between the US and North Korea, Pope Francis said the United Nations should re-assert its leadership in world diplomacy because it had become “too watered down”.

“I call on, and will call on, all leaders, as I have called on leaders of various places, to work to seek a solution to problems through the path of diplomacy,” he said about the North Korea crisis.

He spoke after North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile shortly after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned that failure to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes could lead to “catastrophic consequences”.

“There are so many facilitators in the world, there are mediators who offer themselves, such as Norway for example,” Pope Francis said.

“It [Norway] is always ready to help. That is just one but there are many. But the path is the path of negotiations, of a diplomatic solution.” Norway secretly negotiated an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians known as the Oslo Accords in the early 1990s.

Pope Francis expressed his deep concern over the crisis, saying: “This question of missiles in [North] Korea has been brewing for more than a year but now it seems the situation has become has become too hot.

“We are talking about the future of humanity. Today, a widespread war would destroy — I would not say half of humanity — but a good part of humanity, and of culture, everything, everything.

“It would be terrible. I don’t think that humanity today would be able to withstand it.”

Mr Trump is due in Sicily late May for a meeting of the heads of the world’s richest nations.

The White House has not yet said if he would be stopping in Rome to meet the pope, which would be an unusual omission for a visiting head of state. Asked if he would be meeting Mr Trump, the pope said he had not yet been informed if a request had been made, but added: “I receive every head of state who asks for an audience.”

May 1, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

China on denuclearization, dialogue and diplomacy

China stresses two directions in dealing with nuclear issue on Korean Peninsula, Manila Bulletin, By People’s Daily, 30 Apr 17 UNITED NATIONS – Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Friday that two directions must be stuck to while dealing with the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

“We must stay committed to the goal of denuclearization,” Wang said while addressing the UN Security Council Ministerial Meeting on Non-proliferation and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“All parties should comprehensively understand and fully implement DPRK-related Security Council resolutions,” he said.

“Denuclearization is the basic precondition for long-term peace and stability on the Peninsula and what we must accomplish to safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation regime,” Wang said.

The Security Council held a special meeting on Friday to discuss the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres briefed the meeting, which was chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, as the United States holds the rotating presidency of the Security Council this month……..

All the 15 members of the Security Council addressed the meeting focusing on the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula and the implementation of relevant UN resolutions.

Wang said: “We must stay committed to the path of dialogue and negotiation.”

“The use of force does not resolve differences, and will only lead to bigger disasters,” he noted, adding that “as the only way out, dialogue and negotiation also represent the sensible choice for all parties.”

“Our past experience of resolving the nuclear issue on the peninsula shows, whenever dialogue and negotiation were ongoing, the situation on the peninsula would maintain basic stability and efforts toward denuclearization could make progress,” said the minister.

He recalled the period between 2003 and 2007 when the parties were engaged in dialogue and negotiation, and three joint documents were adopted……..http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/04/30/china-stresses-two-directions-in-dealing-with-nuclear-issue-on-korean-peninsula/

May 1, 2017 Posted by | China, politics international | Leave a comment

Donald Trump on starting war with North Korea: ‘I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see’

Donald Trump on whether he could start war with North Korea: ‘I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see’ Answering a question about whether another nuclear test by North Korea would mean a military response by the US, Mr Trump appears to be undecided, The Independent, 1 May 17  Foster KlugKim Tong-Hyung Seoul President Donald Trump has said that he believes China’s president has been putting pressure on North Korea as it pursues its missile and nuclear weapons programmes – but when asked about whether another nuclear test would mean a military response from the US, Mr Trump said “I don’t know…we’ll see”.

In an interview with CBS programme Face the Nation Mr Trump said he won’t be happy if North Korea conducts a nuclear test and that he believes Chinese President Xi Jinping won’t be happy, either.

Asked if that means military action, Mr Trump responded: “I don’t know. I mean, we’ll see.”

………..Mr Trump has sent a nuclear-powered submarine and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to Korean waters and North Korea last week conducted large-scale, live-fire exercises on its eastern coast. The U.S. and South Korea also started installing a missile defence system that is supposed to be partially operational within days and their two navies are staging joint military drills.

Residents in the village of Seongj, where the missile defence system is being installed, scuffled with police on Sunday. About 300 protesters faced off against 800 police and succeeded in blocking two US Army oil trucks from entering the site, local media reported. A few residents were injured or fainted from the scuffle and were transported to a hospital.

The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence system (THAAD), remains a controversial topic in South Korea and presidential front-runner Moon Jae-in even has vowed to reconsider the deployment if he wins a presidential election in May. He has said that the security benefits of THAAD would be offset by worsened relations with China, which is the country’s biggest trading partner and is opposed to its deployment.

Mr Trump raised eyebrows in South Korea last week when he said would make Seoul pay $1 billion for the missile defence system. Seoul’s presidential Blue House said on Sunday that White House National Security Adviser HR McMaster confirmed that the U.S. will not be seeking money for the system. ……http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/donald-trump-north-korea-nuclear-latest-war-a7710521.html

May 1, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea’s threat to sink US nuclear submarine

North Korea threatens to sink US nuclear submarine http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/north-korea-threat-sink-us-nuclear-submarine-uss-michigan-south-korea-donald-trump-kim-jong-un-a7709946.html ‘It will be doomed to face the miserable fate of becoming an underwater ghost without being able to come to the surface’ Samuel Osborne  @SamuelOsborne93 30 Apr 17, North Korea ,  has threatened to sink a US nuclear submarine deployed in South Korean waters.

“The moment the USS Michigan tries to budge even a little, it will be doomed to face the miserable fate of becoming an underwater ghost without being able to come to the surface,” the North’s propaganda website Urminzokkiri said.
“The urgent fielding of the nuclear submarine in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, timed to coincide with the deployment of the super aircraft carrier strike group, is intended to further intensify military threats toward our republic.”
The guided missile submarine USS Michigan has been joined by the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group in waters near the Korean peninsula.

The website added that “whether it’s a nuclear aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine, they will be turned into a mass of scrap metal in front of our invincible military power centred on the self-defence nuclear deterrence.”

The aircraft carrier group began exercises with the South Korean navy on Sunday after it completed drills with the Japanese navy.

The dispatch of the Carl Vinson was a “reckless action of the war maniacs aimed at an extremely dangerous nuclear war,” the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary.It comes after the hermit kingdom test-fired another ballistic missile in a clear message of defiance aimed at Washington and its allies.

However, US officials said the medium-range ballistic missile disintegrated mid-flight, minutes after launch, and fell into the Sea of Japan.

President Donald Trump, asked about his message to North Korea after the latest missile test, told reporters: “You’ll soon find out”, but did not elaborate on what the US response would be.The North has been conducting missile and nuclear weapons related activities at an unprecedented rate and is believed to have made progress in developing intermediate-range and submarine-launched missiles.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has been high for weeks over fears the North may conduct a long-range missile test, or its sixth nuclear test, around the time of the 15 April anniversary of its state founder’s birth.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Small nuclear reactors not a good deal for Indonesia

Nuclear Power and Small Modular Reactors in Indonesia: Potential and Challenges, The Nautilus Institute, Bernadette K. Cogswell, Nataliawati Siahaan, Friga Siera R, M. V. Ramana, and Richard Tanter Indonesian Institute for Energy Economics Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability April 2017 

“………CONCLUSION This report has also outlined many challenges that would have to be overcome before any SMRs are constructed in Indonesia, including a lack of support for nuclear power at the highest (and lower) political levels, public opposition to nuclear power, the absence of tested SMR designs, and the higher electricity generation costs associated with SMR technology. There are also legislative regulations that could become obstacles for specific technologies, such as floating power plants, and the model of SMR construction that involve fabrication of the bulk of the reactor in factories

The first factor, the absence of widespread and sustained political support, has been the major roadblock for the establishment of nuclear power in general. The Indonesian nuclear establishment has been trying to set up nuclear power plants since the 1970s but has so far not managed to persuade government leaders. Indeed, in December 2015, then Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Sudirman Said announced publicly that the government had concluded that “this is not the time to build up nuclear power capacity. We still have many alternatives and we do not need to raise any controversies”.155 Although this decision might be revised in the future, it testifies to lack of broad-based political support. Given this context, those advocating constructing SMRs in a country like Indonesia that has no nuclear power capacity face the basic conundrum: building untested nuclear technologies that might lead to higher electricity generation costs is going to be more of a political challenge than constructing nuclear reactor designs that have been operated in other countries.

The higher electricity generation cost associated with SMRs should be seen not just in comparison with the cost of generating electricity with a large NPP but also with a range of alternatives that are available in Indonesia. Of these, the declining cost of solar photovoltaic technology is particularly relevant. Studies testify to the large potential of solar energy in Indonesia and the government has been adopting policies that promise to accelerate the construction of significant amounts of solar capacity.

The smaller power level of SMRs also implies that producing the same amount of electricity using these as opposed to large reactors would require dealing with public resistance at many more sites. Because public opposition has played a major role in stopping construction of nuclear power plants so far, constructing SMRs might be even more of a challenge than large reactors; for SMRs, the potential benefits accruing from electricity generation comes at a higher economic and social cost. As a result, it would seem that the construction of SMRs is unlikely, especially in large enough numbers to make a sizeable contribution to Indonesia’s electricity generation. http://liu.arts.ubc.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/IIEE-Nautilus-SMR-Report-Final-For-Publication-April2017.pdf

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Indonesia, technology | Leave a comment

Eight nations ‘now equipped to terminate civilization’

Eight nations now have sufficient weapons of mass destruction to end civilization worldwide in a nuclear winter, a leading science writer has warned.

“Far from receding, the nuclear threat to human survival has never been greater,” says Julian Cribb, author of ‘Surviving the 21st Century’ (Springer 2017), a new book on how humanity can solve the growing mega-risks that confront it.

“One of the huge advances from recent climate science is a far better understanding of the world’s atmosphere. From this, leading scientists have concluded it would take the release of no more than 50-100 small nuclear weapons to wreck global food production for everyone,” he says.

“This is a tiny proportion of the total nuclear arsenal of around 14,900 warheads. Eight countries – the US, Russia, China, UK, Pakistan, India, France and Israel – now have sufficient WMD capacity to eliminate civilization on their own. Two more, Iran and North Korea, are believed to aspire to that power also.”

Mr Cribb said that old nuclear imagery from the Cold War and disaster movies had left the public with a belief that the main impact of a nuclear clash would be local effects from blast, fireball and fallout.

“This is not correct. The latest science is saying that the tens of billions of tonnes of smoke and dust thrown up by nuclear blasts would block sunlight, chilling the whole planet by several degrees for several years, restricting plant growth and destroying crop harvests with frost globally. With only three months’ supply of food in stock at any time, this could be catastrophic.

“It means even a limited or localised nuclear exchange could potentially cause a worldwide famine, affecting everyone, no matter how far from the war zone they were. In theory, the use of just a half of one percent of the world nuclear stockpile could end civilization as we know it.”

The dangers of WMD getting into the wrong hands are growing: the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) trafficking database listed 2889 known cases of nuclear theft up to December 2015.

“This highlights the fact that no form of nuclear energy is safe for the planet, if its materials and wastes can be stolen to make bombs. So far nobody can guarantee their security,” Cribb says. “The old arithmetic of mutually assured destruction no longer applies if rogue states, fanatics and non-state players acquire nuclear capability by such means.”

“There is also a dangerous illusion that, because the numbers of nuclear devices are coming down slowly, as the US and Russia retire old Cold War stocks, the world is becoming safer. It isn’t. Nuclear drones and robotic weapons, AI systems, hypersonic missiles, stealth weapons, space weapons, mini-nukes, dirty weapons and ‘smart’ bombs are escalating the dangers for everyone.”

Furthermore, the world still has no agreement to ban all nuclear weapons – unlike chemical and biological weapons. A current proposed nuclear weapons ban before the United Nations, has received the vote of 113 countries, while 35 remain opposed and 13 are abstaining. Thus, the proposal to end the nuclear nightmare remains deadlocked.

“The issue of whether or not civilization suffers one or more devastating nuclear conflicts in the 21st Century will be decided by nation states – not by ordinary human beings,” Mr Cribb warns.

“Only nations own and control nuclear weapons. Not cities, corporations, ethnic groups, tribes or religious orders. If humanity is to be destroyed, it will be because of nationalistic governments.”

The wars of the past two centuries claimed more than 200 million lives, mostly civilian, and were almost entirely started by national governments.

In the meantime, doctors, scientists, concerned citizens and the Catholic Church worldwide are speaking out against the nuclear menace. “It is up to every individual citizen and parent, if they wish for a safer world for their children, to oppose the adoption and deployment of nuclear weapons by their governments. There is no other way this will happen,” Cribb says.

“If even a tenth of the US$1.8 trillion spent every year on new weapons were invested in food production and economic development, we could end both world hunger and poverty within a decade – as well as making the world a much safer place for our children.

“Currently, humans are the only creature than devotes 35 times more of its resources to better ways to kill itself than it does on better ways to feed itself.”

Surviving the 21st Century (Springer International 2017) is a powerful new book exploring the main risks facing humanity: ecological collapse, resource depletion, weapons of mass destruction, climate change, global poisoning, food crises, population and urban overexpansion, pandemic disease, dangerous new technologies and self-delusion – and what can and should be done to limit them.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Wildfires near Fukushima crippled nuclear power plant

Fukushima authorities ask troops to help deal with forest fires near crippled nuclear power plant https://www.rt.com/news/386662-fukushima-forest-fires-soldiers/#.WQaIanZz1L8.facebook

Fukushima prefecture has asked the Japanese Self-Defense Forces for help in handling forest fires that have swept areas near the crippled Fukushima power plant, local media report. Strong winds are hindering the firefighting efforts, however.

The forest fires broke out near the town of Namie, some seven kilometers from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, on Saturday evening, Japanese NHK broadcaster reported.

Namie was evacuated following the 2011 tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster in Fukushima.

The prefecture has deployed several helicopters to extinguish the fires, which are believed to have been caused by lightning. According to police, at least 10 hectares of forest have burned in the area.

There have been no reports of injuries or damage to buildings so far, Japanese media say.

With strong winds stoking the flames, the Fukushima Prefecture has requested help from the Self-Defense Forces, Japan’s de-facto army, on Sunday.

Earlier in April, residents of Namie, as well as those from the village of Iitate and the town of Kawamata’s Yamakiya neighborhood, totaling 22,100 people in all, were told they could return home – with the exception of those with houses in so-called no-go zones, where radiation levels are still too high, according to Japanese media.

So far, the homecoming has not been as successful as the government had hoped, as few residents have been eager to go back.

Results of a Fukushima Prefectural Government survey released on April 24 show that some 78.2 percent of the evacuated households have no intention of returning to their previous residences and plan to remain in the area they evacuated to.

May 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Thyspunt Alliance shows that Nuclear doesn’t always win over the ordinary people

Big win for little folk in nuclear plant fight

29 April 2017 Sheree Bega, Johannesburg – Fighting Eskom’s proposed nuclear reactor has given Trudi Malan a lot of sleepless nights. Lucky, then, that she’s an insomniac.

It’s often late when Malan, who describes herself as a “believer in the power of civil society, environmental activists (and) African penguin propagandists” pores over nuclear-related documents.

And after 13 years interrogating Eskom’s plans for the plant at Thyspunt near St Francis Bay, there’s a lot of them. So far, the 49-year-old has packed 13 arch-lever files, she says, somewhat proudly.

For Malan, who leads the Thyspunt Alliance, a grouping of organisations fighting the project, this week’s sensational ruling in the Western High Court, blocking the government’s R1 trillion nuclear programme, is a victory for the “little guy”.

Malan says organisations like hers feel a sense of solidarity with the SA Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and Earthlife Africa Johannesburg which took the government to court two years ago to set aside nuclear agreements with Russia.

This week, Judge Lee Bozalek with Judge Elizabeth Baartman ruled that the secret tabling of intergovernmental agreements with Russia, the US and Korea were unconstitutional and unlawful and ruled that they be set aside.

“It does feel like a David and Goliath battle. We feel vindicated. We’ve been saying all along that due process had not been followed, not just with regard to this, but with the whole process against nuclear.

“It’s continuously the small organisations which have to engage with environmental lawyers just to make sure due process is followed.

“We’re up against big money. We see Dr Kelvin Kemm (chief of the SA Nuclear Energy Corporation) slating us because we’re environmentalists, not nuclear physicists, so we’re not allowed to say anything.

“Fighting this takes money and a hell of a lot of commitment to get to the truth. You have to stick to your guns. But the victory is kind of hollow because the road ahead of us is still so long.

“Our organisations are the small voices. We’re not even a pawn on the chessboard, we’re the floor the table is standing on. The chessboard is where the big guys are playing the game.”

Dr Piet Human of the NPO Save Bantamsklip, agrees.

Bantamsklip, near Gansbaai, is another site mooted for nuclear power station roll-out.

“We’re extremely happy with the court outcome but we have to recognise it’s still part of the process, which has now been postponed for a while.

“That’s part of our strategy as activists to cause friction and slow down processes. That’s what we did during apartheid – getting the state in court all the time. They’re little obstacles because we’re little people.

“The longer we can postpone their commitment to nuclear, the better. The world is changing. Everyone is pushing for renewable energy, and nuclear will vanish.”

Bantamsklip is the smallest of six floral kingdoms but boasts more than 9 200 species of fynbos. There are 22 Red Data listed species on the property.

“Our coastline is unique. This is a beautiful place and now you want to plonk down a big nuclear power station that could take 45 years to build. It will create havoc environmentally, socially and economically.

“The judgment shows people’s voices do matter. It just becomes unbearable for the government, that’s why they choose these remote places and that’s why it’s important for us to make a big noise.

“We’re like little birds that plump themselves up to make themselves look bigger.”

Makoma Lekalakala of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg says the court victory is part of a much bigger battle, while Liz McDaid, SAFCEI spokesperson, says the organisations “experienced delays and dirty tricks, but we persevered and now we have been vindicated”.

For Malan, the fight centres on saving “the heritage of the first nation – the Khoisan”.

“This is the coastal cradle of humankind and should not be used for nuclear development.

“One of the two judges in this case was Judge Baartman, and it’s very apt considering we’re in the Sarah Baartman municipality. Maybe there is some justice along the way.”

May 1, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment