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Government to release map of potential final nuclear disposal sites this summer

n-nukewaste-a-20170503-870x564.jpgSolidified nuclear waste mixed with glass is placed in canisters at a reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, in 2012

The government has set the criteria for a map meant to identify potential final disposal sites for high-level radioactive nuclear waste, paving the way for its release as early as this summer.

The process of finding a host for nuclear waste could face challenges amid public concerns over safety.

Based on the map, the government will approach select municipalities to allow research to be conducted for suitable sites to store waste from nuclear power generation.

For permanent disposal, high-level nuclear waste needs to be stored at a final depository more than 300 meters underground for up to about 100,000 years until radiation levels fall and there is no longer potential harm to humans and the environment.

The government plans to create a permanent underground repository somewhere in stable bedrock so the canisters can be stored for tens of thousands of years.

The map is likely to classify which areas are geologically suitable for such a structure to be built deep enough underground. This would rule out areas near active faults and volcanoes as well as oil and coal fields.

Based on waste transport criteria, the map is likely to show that zones within 20 km of the coastline are favorable to host final disposal sites.

The government hopes other municipalities — not just the ones located near nuclear power plants — may also become interested in hosting the disposal facilities. It also wants to show that a variety of places nationwide are suitable for nuclear waste management.

The map was originally planned for a 2016 release but the publication date was later postponed, as some local governments were wary that disposal sites would be imposed on them.

About 18,000 tons of spent fuel currently exist in Japan. Including spent fuel that has already been reprocessed, the country’s total jumps to about 25,000 canisters of vitrified high-level waste, all of which needs to be managed.

The process to find local governments willing to host final storage started in 2002, but little progress was made due mainly to opposition from local residents.

In May 2015, the central government introduced a plan announcing that final depository site selection would be based on scientific grounds, rather than waiting for municipalities to volunteer.

Before presenting the map, the government will hold symposiums between mid-May and June at nine cities to explain the map criteria to the public. The cities include Tokyo, Nagoya and Fukuoka.

Radioactive waste is classified into two categories: The high-level type is generated from reprocessing spent fuel by separating the plutonium and uranium for recycling, while the low level type refers to all other waste.

High-level waste is a byproduct of fission in the reactor core, which is very hot and dangerous. It is mixed with glass and solidified before being placed in robust heat-resistant stainless steel canisters that are 130 cm high, 40 cm in diameter and weigh 500 kg each.

A full canister emits about 1,500 sieverts per hour — an extremely lethal biological level — and has a surface temperature in excess of 200 degrees.

Its radioactivity starts at 20,000 trillion becquerels. It will take about 1,000 years to fall to one-thousandth of that level, and tens of thousands of years to weaken to the same intensity as natural uranium ore, the Natural Resources and Energy Agency says.

Worldwide, only Finland and Sweden have been able to successfully decide on a final depository site for nuclear waste, while many other countries with nuclear plants face difficulties in doing so.

The United States decided in 2009 to call off a plan to build a site to dispose spent fuel in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain due to local opposition, but President Donald Trump earmarked funds to revive the plan in the budget proposal for fiscal 2018 unveiled in March.

In Japan, the selection process is also a touchy issue and has triggered conflicts in the communities around which prospective depository sites have been considered.

In one example, Minamiosumi Mayor Toshihiko Morita in Kagoshima Prefecture filed a criminal complaint against a 65-year-old resident for libel, claiming that his allegations that the rural town office had been actively inviting such a facility was not only groundless but also defamation.

The resident handed out flyers to about 500 households in the town in January which said Morita went to Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, and Horonobe in Hokkaido at the invitation of the private sector involved in the construction of nuclear waste disposal facilities. Both municipalities host nuclear-related facilities.

Morita flatly denied the allegations, telling Kyodo News in writing that he has heard “rumors” that there have been moves aimed at hosting a nuclear waste disposal facility but “I myself haven’t gone anywhere and been treated to anything.”

I would reject any request from the central government” to host one, Morita said. The town approved an ordinance to reject a plan to host a nuclear waste disposal facility the year after the 2011 nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

A supporter of the mayor, however, did visit nuclear-related facilities in locations including Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, several years ago, according to the supporter’s admission, and a Tokyo company covered the expenses of the trip.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/05/02/national/government-release-map-potential-final-nuclear-disposal-sites-summer/

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

Mount Juman forest fire in Namie

Namie-Fire-Nippon-TV.jpg

 

A forest fire has been burning in the no-entry zone of Namie in Fukushima since April 29th, and is now in its fourth day. This has been the subject of many news reports of varying quality, and we are following the situation closely.

The site is among the most highly-contaminated by the Fukushima disaster, well within the “difficult-to-return” zone. Clicking this link will center the Safecast web map on the site of the fire at Juman-yama, which we derived by comparing terrain in news videos and in Google Earth.

To summarize what has been reported so far:

The fire is in a mountainous area of Namie Town called Juman-yama, about 10 km from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The Daiichi plant itself is not at risk from this blaze.

The fire appears to have begun on Sat. April 29, caused by a lightning strike.

Fire-fighters used helicopters to dump water on it, and it appeared to have largely died out on the morning of April 30, but high winds revived it shortly after.

The burned and burning area has been growing, and as of May 2 was approximately 20 hectares.

We don’t have much information about wind direction, which is variable, but predominant winds would blow the smoke eastward towards the ocean (generally over the Daiichi plant site and the towns of Okuma and Futaba).

The most informative news report we’ve seen so far is from Fukushima Chuo TV, on May 1. Prof. Kenji Namba from Univ. of Tokyo notes that the fire can be expected to spread radioactive cesium from the trees in smoke and ash, a general risk pointed out by many experts in the past. He also notes that a monitoring post at Tomioka Station, about 15 km to the southeast of the fire site, has shown what appears to be a very small increase in radiation levels there since the start of the fire. We believe that data from many more points should be examined before ascribing any significance to this kind of reading.

Our closest Pointcast fixed sensor in the area is in Namie, about 7.8 km to the east-northeast of the fire. Its readings have remained relatively constant since the start of the fire, with no appreciable change in radiation levels detected. The time series graph for this sensor showing the change in radiation over the past 30 days can be accessed here.

We also have Pointcast sensors in the nearby towns of Tomioka and Odaka. Neither these nor any other Pointcast sensors show any appreciable increase in radiation levels so far.

Examining readings from government radiation monitoring posts shows what appear to be noticeable “bumps” at some locations around May 1. But these are not large spikes, and in general appear to be within the range of the variation seen in recent months. However, any detection at all would depend on the direction the wind is blowing the smoke plume.

Though any increases in radiation dose rates seen so far appear to be very small, inhaling the smoke from this fire could lead to an internal dose of radioactive cesium. We strongly suggest that people avoid inhaling this smoke. The area surrounding the fire where such risks would be highest are in fact closed to the public and therefore inaccessible, but the additional radiation risk to firefighters is making it difficult to send adequate personnel to battle the blaze.

News videos here:

NHK, Sun. April 30, 2017

Nippon Television, Tues. May 2, 2017

http://blog.safecast.org/2017/05/mount-juman-forest-fire-in-namie/

May 3, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , , | 2 Comments

Wildfires in Namie

Wildfire is raging in the highly radio-contaminated area in Namie, Fukushima prefecture. Japanese authorities are minimizing the radiation risk. It is time to provide information from civil movement point of view. We are publishing here the translation of an article by Suzuki Hiroki, a freelance journalist.

What is happening in Namie, the 74th month after the Fukushima Daiichi accident?

There is a wildfire in the forest in the “difficult-to-return zone” causing rising concerns about the secondary dispersion of radioactive substances.
“Is it safe?” Voices of rage from the townspeople towards the central and local governments that hurried the evacuation order lifting.

A forest fire broke out on 29 April in Namie Town, Fukushima Prefecture, where one month had passed since the evacuation orders were lifted from a large part of the town. Moreover, it happened in the “difficult-to-return zone” where radio-contamination is especially high even in Namie town. Strong winds and high concentrations of contamination have made it difficult to fight against the fire and the fire has not been extinguished as of the night of May 1. Although the evacuation orders have been lifted as “the environment for everyday life is sufficiently in order”, it has been made clear that Namie has a perpetual risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials in the future. The fact that there is no means to prevent internal irradiation of firefighters as well as of returning residents brought home again the “reality” of the nuclear power plant accident.

[Firefighters cannot get close to the scene]

At the Sports Center near Japan Railway Joban Line Namie station fire-fighting helicopters in Fukushima and Miyagi prefecture land in the parking lot every few minutes. Water is put in the tanks with the hose connected to the fire hydrant. In the direction where the helicopter flew, smoke was still rising from the ridge of the mountain. Only the sound of the propeller echoes in the city empty of its population. Since April 29, the day when “Namie Town Security Watch Corps” rushed to the fire station, the feared forest fire is still ongoing 2 days later. The concern of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is heightened.

The burned area has exceeded 10 hectares. Although the fire is weakening, the fire department is cautious in declaring the judgment of “repression” and “extinguishing” of fire, for the fire became strong once again after it was judged being “repressed”. On May 2, since 5:00 am, BABA Tamotsu, the mayor of Namie, and OWADA Hitoshi, head of the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department, have been busy inspecting the area from the sky by helicopter.

Jyumanyama” (altitude 448.4 meters), where lightning caused the fire, is located in the Ide district, which is designated as a “difficult-to-return zone”. Although the evacuation orders were partially lifted on March 31 from Namie, the “difficult-to-return zone” is still severely restricted from entering. The town’s fire brigade was called up, but its members cannot go close to the scene. It takes two hours on foot from the entrance of the mountain trail to the site, according to the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department. The spot could not be specified easily. As soon as it was localized from the sky by the helicopter, firefighters climbed the steep slopes without trails while receiving the guidance of the Forestry agency and Iwaki Forest management office staff. In the meantime, smoke fueled by strong winds reduced visibility like a dense fog. But it’s not just smoke that is dangerous – there is the danger of radioactivity as well The effect of the absorption can attached to the protective mask only functions up to three hours. The exchange in the contaminated smoke is accompanied by the irradiation risk. Considering the health hazards of the members, it is not a good idea to enter the virgin forest without a discussed plan. On April 30 at noon, UCHIBORI Masao, the governor of Fukushima Prefecture requested to dispatch the 6th Division of the JGSDF (Yamagata Prefecture) for the disaster. The amount of water spray exceeds 400 tons by GSDF alone.

However, it is not possible to stop the secondary dispersion of the radioactive material even by the SDF. This is the specificity and danger of this forest fire.

photo-1.jpeg(Top) At the Namie Regional Sports Center parking lot, fire-fighting helicopters came back one after another for water supply. The extinguishing activity from air is scheduled again on May 2 in the morning.

photo-2(Middle) From Jyumanyama mountains there was still smoke.
Secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is concerned. (Taken on May 1 around 11 a.m.)

photo-3(Bottom) Firefighters entered the field in protective gear and masks, but ” practically, there are no means to prevent the exposure to the radiation”.

 

The radiation of the firefighters is unavoidable”.

The secondary dispersion of radioactive materials is an alarming thing, but it has been expected. Judging that ‘the living environment is generally in order’, evacuation orders have been lifted, but once the wildfire starts, this is what happens. Did the government lift the evacuation orders after presenting these risks to the townspeople? I do not have any confidence in the central government nor in the local administration. They are good at appealing that everything is going well in this country. It was the same during the war. In that sense, it is a system of ‘self-responsibility’. I have no choice but to take care of myself”, said a man in his 40s, who was evacuated from the Hiwatari-Ushiwata administrative district. No active effort to announce the secondary dispersion of radioactive materials associated with forest fires was made by the town. It was delivered at last in the Mail magazine of the town at 10:00 a.m. on May 1. The following warning sentence was diffused: “Please do not approach carelessly, for it is dangerous”. It was not known to the townspeople for more than a full day because the fire report is dated Saturday evening. “The administration is difficult to move on Saturdays and Sundays,” said the General Affairs Disaster Security Division. On May 1 at 7:00 a.m., the same content was announced to the entire neighborhood by the disaster prevention radio, and “Notice of forest fire conditions” was published on the town homepage. However, there was no call for wearing a mask related to secondary dispersion of radioactive materials.

No emergency calls have reached the town council members. A certain council member said, “It is a good thing that I happened to learn about it by the television news. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to answer when questioned by the townspeople about this. I want to request to make a contact system because the forest fire in the “difficult-to-return zone” is an emergency situation.”

This council member says, “it is only a personal opinion, but it is natural to assume that radioactive cesium will scatter with smoke and ash, and the fire extinguishing activity should be carried out while measuring how much radioactive material there is in the one square meter. However, it is not realistic, and I have to say that it is not possible to prevent internal irradiation exposure after all.” Another council member also said, “the risk was not examined when the evacuation order was lifted. The danger has been proven by the forest fire this time.” He is ready to take the matter to the Town Council.

As for the irradiation risk of the fire brigade, the headquarters of the Futaba Regional Communities Area Union Fire Department admit that while they can make a point “not to carry out the contaminated materials from the area”, there is no means to prevent the exposure of the fire brigade member. They can only try to shorten the time of stay in the “difficult-to-return zone”, but in reality it takes time to reach the site, and it is difficult to reach it. We have to admit that the exposure is unavoidable.” I wonder if we can consider the situation as “nuclear accident is under control”?

 

photo-4.jpeg
photo-5

 

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There was a warning about forest fires since even before the nuclear accident. The airborne radioactivity of Tsushima District, which is designated as “difficult-to-return zone” like Ide district, is still high. It is sad to say, but the risk of secondary dispersion of radioactive materials with a fire is high.

 

Difficulty to monitor fine particles

There is no significant fluctuation in the airborne radioactivity measured by the monitoring posts installed inside and outside the town. The local media also actively convey the point. However, Mr. Yoichi Ozawa of the citizen’s group in Minamisoma City, “Fukuichi Environmental Radiation Monitoring Project”, pointed out that “radioactive particulates cannot be caught by a dosimeter or monitoring post.” In response to the forest fire, the above Project and the Citizen Radioactivity Monitoring Center “Chikurin-sha” (Hinode Town, Nishitama County, Tokyo) put several linen cloths in the town of Namie. It is thought that the secondary dispersion situation can be estimated by examining the adhesion of the fine particles that cause the internal irradiation.

The central government also faces a cautious posture about the secondary dispersion of the radioactive materials by combustion. On April 20, at the meeting with the residents of Iitate village the person in charge of the Cabinet Office asked the villagers “not to burn the field until the results of experimentation and analyses about how much radioactive materials scatter and adhere to crops etc. come out.” It is a reality that even the bureaucrats of the central government who rushed the evacuation order lifting are not able to affirm that it is safe.

According to the research by Mr. Ozawa and his colleagues, radioactive cesium of 17,000 Bq/kg was found in the fallen leaves near the Ogaki dam last autumn in the “difficult-to-return zone”. “The radioactive material is concentrated by several dozen times by burning. Some experts have pointed out hundreds of times”, says Ozawa. However, neither the central government nor Fukushima prefecture nor the Namie town warn about the internal irradiation at all.

They lifted the evacuation order saying that it is safe and secure, but it’s not at all,” says a 70 year old resident angrily. A lot of worries about the exposure risk were voiced at the residents consultation meeting just before the lifting of evacuation orders. Some say, “it is useless to worry all the time. Since the nuclear power plant accident has happened, we have to think in a constructive way now”, but unfortunately many townspeople’s worries have become real. Moreover, it’s quite possible that the forest fire was caused by lightning. Namie will have to take the same risks in the future. The fire site continues smoldering. Radioactive materials are slowly spreading.

Published in Taminokoe shimbun, May 2, 2017.

https://fukushima311voices.wordpress.com/2017/05/02/wildfires-in-namie/

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

Sparking Fears of Airborne Radiation, Wildfire Burns in Fukushima ‘No-Go Zone’

Contaminated forests such as those outside fallout sites like Fukushima and Chernobyl ‘are ticking time bombs’

greenpeace_fukushima.jpegKendra Ulrich, senior Global Energy campaigner for Greenpeace Japan on the Asakaze, a research vessel chartered by Greenpeace Japan, doing radiation survey work off shore of Fukushima Daiichi.

 

A wildfire broke out in the highly radioactive “no-go zone” near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant over the weekend, reviving concerns over potential airborne radiation.

Japanese newspaper The Mainichi reports that lightning was likely to blame for sparking the fire Saturday on Mount Juman in Namie, which lies in the Fukushima Prefecture and was one of the areas evacuated following the 2011 meltdown. The area continues to be barred to entry as it is designated a “difficult-to-return zone” due to continually high radiation levels.

Local officials were forced to call in the Japanese military, the Ground Self-Defense Force (GSDF), to help battle the blaze, which continued to burn on Monday. At least 10 hectares of forest have burned so far.

“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,” The Mainichi reports. “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 am [local time].”

An official with the Ministry of the Environment said Monday that there has been “no major changes to radiation levels” in the region, according to the newspaper, but added that they will “continue to closely watch changes in radiation doses in the surrounding areas.”

In a blog post last year, Anton Beneslavsky, a member of Greenpeace Russia’s firefighting group who has been deployed to fight blazes in nuclear Chernobyl, outlined the specific dangers of wildfires in contaminated areas.

“During a fire, radionuclides like caesium-137, strontium-90 and plutonium rise into the air and travel with the wind,” Beneslavsky wrote. “This is a health concern because when these unstable atoms are inhaled, people become internally exposed to radiation.”

Contaminated forests such as those outside fallout sites like Fukushima and Chernobyl “are ticking time bombs,” scientist and former regional government official Ludmila Komogortseva told Beneslavsky. “Woods and peat accumulate radiation,” she explained “and every moment, every grass burning, every dropped cigarette or camp fire can spark a new disaster.”

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/05/01/sparking-fears-airborne-radiation-wildfire-burns-fukushima-no-go-zone

 

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

Wildfire continues in Fukushima

fire may 1 2017.jpg

 

A wildfire has been raging for more than 2 days near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The fire started in a mountain forest on the outskirts of Namie Town in Fukushima Prefecture. The area is part of a zone designated as “no-entry” due to high radiation levels following the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures and the Self-Defense Forces are using helicopters to fight the blaze. They are also looking at the possibility of using ground crews.

Footage from an NHK helicopter on Monday morning showed smoke rising from wide areas and fires burning in several locations.

Local officials and firefighters say the blaze abated somewhat on Monday afternoon thanks to rainfall. The wildfire is estimated to have burned about 20 hectares of land so far.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170501_24/

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

Fukushima authorities ask troops to help deal with forest fires near crippled nuclear power plant

30 may 2017 namie fire.jpg

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.

https://www.rt.com/news/386662-fukushima-forest-fires-soldiers/

 

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

Chinese diplomat warns that talk between USA and North Korea is essential – tipping point is near

Talk or risk reaching nuclear tipping point, Chinese diplomat warns US and North Korea
Kim Jong-un has stabilised his regime and it is unrealistic to expect it to collapse under the weight of sanctions, former deputy foreign minister says,
03 May, 2017, South China Morning Post, Laura Zhou, North Korea’s missile and nuclear technology might reach a tipping point if Washington and Pyongyang refuse to negotiate, a senior Chinese diplomat has warned.

In an analysis piece published on Sunday by US think tank the Brookings Institution, Fu Ying, chairwoman of the National People’s Congress’ Foreign Affairs Committee, said it was unrealistic to expect the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to succumb to pressure of sanctions or collapse.

“Sanctions may exert huge pressure, but the country can hold up and will not give up nuclear development because of them,” wrote Fu, who is also a former deputy foreign minister.

“It is not hard to see that this situation could make the issue drag on into a spiral of intensified sanctions and continued nuclear testing until [North] Korean nuclear and missile technologies reach a tipping point.”

She said that once that point was reached, the countries opposing Pyongyang’s possession of nuclear weapons would be “faced with the hard choice of taking extreme action with unknown consequences, or tolerating it”……..

She also repeated Beijing’s call for a “double suspension” – that Pyongyang suspend its nuclear and missile tests in exchange for a halt of large scale US-South Korean military exercises.

Fu said China did not have leverage over North Korea because Pyongyang’s security concerns in the face of US military threats had not been addressed.

Trump said on Monday that he would consider meeting Kim “under the right circumstances”.

Lu Chao, from the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, said Trump’s offer could be “positive” to the Korean crisis.

“As Fu Ying said, the key has never been owned by China,” Lu said. “The problem can only be solved by the two sides [the US and North Korea].

“I don’t think Kim would really want to wage a war with the US.” http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2092432/talk-or-risk-reaching-nuclear-tipping-point-chinese

May 3, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Nuclear Projects Bankrupted Westinghouse – how it happened

How two cutting edge U.S. nuclear projects bankrupted Westinghouse, Reuters,  By Tom Hals and Emily Flitter | WILMINGTON, DEL./NEW YORK, 2 May 17 

In 2012, construction of a Georgia nuclear power plant stalled for eight months as engineers waited for the right signatures and paperwork needed to ship a section of the plant from a factory hundreds of miles away.

The delay, which a nuclear specialist monitoring the construction said was longer than the time required to make the section, was emblematic of the problems that plagued Westinghouse Electric Co as it tried an ambitious new approach to building nuclear power plants.

The approach – building pre-fabricated sections of the plants before sending them to the construction sites for assembly – was supposed to revolutionize the industry by making it cheaper and safer to build nuclear plants.

But Westinghouse miscalculated the time it would take, and the possible pitfalls involved, in rolling out its innovative AP1000 nuclear plants, according to a close examination by Reuters of the projects.

Those problems have led to an estimated $13 billion in cost overruns and left in doubt the future of the two plants, the one in Georgia and another in South Carolina.

Overwhelmed by the costs of construction, Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy on March 29, while its corporate parent, Japan’s Toshiba Corp, is close to financial ruin [L3N1HI4SD]. It has said that controls at Westinghouse were “insufficient.”

The miscalculations underscore the difficulties facing a global industry that aims to build about 160 reactors and is expected to generate around $740 billion in sales of equipment in services in the coming decade, according to nuclear industry trade groups.

The sector’s problems extend well beyond Westinghouse. France’s Areva is being restructured, in part due to delays and huge cost overruns at a nuclear plant the company is building in Finland………

the source of the biggest delays can be traced to the AP1000’s innovative design and the challenges created by the untested approach to manufacturing and building reactors, according to more than a dozen interviews with former and current Westinghouse employees, nuclear experts and regulators.

Unlike previous nuclear reactors, the AP1000 would be built from prefabricated parts; specialized workers at a factory would churn out sections of the reactor that would be shipped to the construction site for assembly. Westinghouse said in marketing materials this method would standardize nuclear plant construction..…..

By 2016 Westinghouse began to grasp the scope of its dilemma, according to a document filed in its bankruptcy: Finishing the two projects would require Westinghouse to spend billions of dollars on labor, abandoning them would mean billions in penalties.

Westinghouse determined it could not afford either option. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-toshiba-accounting-westinghouse-nucle-idUSKBN17Y0CQ

May 3, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, technology, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea accuses USA of planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike, with its bomber flights

North Korea says US bomber flights signal pre-emptive nuclear strike, ABC News 3 May 17 North Korea is accusing the United States of pushing the Korean peninsula to the brink of nuclear war after a pair of strategic US bombers flew over the area in a training drill with the South Korean air force.

Key points:

  • Supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers flew over Korean peninsula
  • North Korea says US is practising a nuclear strike
  • Mr Trump has said he would consider meeting Kim Jong-un but also warned of a “major, major conflict”

The two supersonic B-1B Lancer bombers were deployed amid rising tensions over North Korea’s dogged pursuit of its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of United Nations sanctions and pressure from the United States.

The flight of the two bombers on Monday came as US President Donald Trump said he was open to meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the appropriate circumstances, even though Pyongyang suggested it would continue with its nuclear tests……..

The North is technically still at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty, and regularly threatens to destroy the United States, Japan and South Korea.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-05-02/us-bomber-flights-push-peninsular-to-the-brink-of-war/8489952

May 3, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea threatens a pre-emptive nuclear strike on USA

North Korea threatens to reduce USA ‘to ruins’ with preemptive nuclear strike http://metro.co.uk/2017/05/02/north-korea-threatens-to-reduce-usa-to-ruins-with-preemptive-nuclear-strike-6611855/

The piece says, ‘Its vast territory is exposed to our preemptive nuclear strike.

‘If the U.S. shows any slight sign of provocation, just the inter-continental ballistic rockets displayed in the April military parade will fly into the U.S.

‘The reckless nuclear war provocation by the Trump administration will bring it nothing but the fall of the American empire.’ The piece says that the North Korean army is ‘waiting for the moment it will reduce the whole of the U.S. mainland to ruins with its absolute weaponry of justice.

Last week North Korea released a video showing nuclear missile attack on Washington DC.

The video, released by official state media, shows the White House in a gun-style crosshair – and a missile descending on the city and exploding in a giant fireball. Another sequence shows American warships being targeted by rockets – interspersed with videos of recent live-fire drills.

The video showed sequences from a live-fire exercise conducted this week, designed to show off the strength of Pyongyang’s million-strong army

May 3, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The Independent WHO examines the World Health Organisation and finds it dishonest on ionising radiation

In reality, IAEA is a commercial lobbying org promoting use of the atom, yet at the same time, it dictates WHO procedures, standards, and published articles on the matter of nuclear radiation, prompting a very pregnant question: Is this a conflict of interest for WHO? Answer: Yes, it is!

Not only is there a serious conflict of interest, Katz claims WHO fails, time and again, to meet its mandate to the public, as for example:

1) WHO remained absent from Chernobyl for five years even though the WHO mandate requires it to be present the “day after a catastrophe” to evaluate and provide assistance. But, WHO was MIA for 5 years.

2) WHO does not issue independent reports on radiation issues. All nuclear-related reports are written by IAEA but published “in the name of the WHO.”

3) Following Chernobyl, there were two international conferences held to analyze the implications of the catastrophe; one held in Geneva in 1995 and the second in Kiev in 2001. The “Proceedings of the Conferences” were never published by WHO.

Hidden Radiation Secrets of the World Health Organization, CounterPunch  MAY 2, 2017 Imagine the following hypothetical: The World Health Organization (“WHO”) is deeply involved in a high level cover up of the human impact and dangers of ionizing radiation, intentionally hiding the facts from the public, a chilling storyline!

After all, the world community depends upon WHO as an independent org t0 forewarn the general public of health dangers and to help in times of crises, not hide pivotal health facts from public eye.

As it happens, that nightmarish hypothetical comes to life in an interview with Alison Katz, who claims: “We are absolutely convinced that if the consequences of nuclear radiation were known to the public, the debate about nuclear power would end tomorrow. In fact, if the public knew, it would probably be excluded immediately as an energy option.”

Alison Katz heads a NGO known as Independent WHO, and she spends a lot of time arranging sandwich boards with messages like: “Complicity in Scientific Crime” or “Crime of Chernobyl – WHO Accomplice” in front of WHO headquarters/Geneva. For 10 years now on a daily vigil from 8:00-to-6:00 she and/or other protestors expose alleged misbehavior committed by WHO, right outside of the headquarters building. Imagine this: Ten years on the same street corner every working day. It’s commitment and determination sans pareil.

“The aim of the silent vigil is to remind the World Health Organisation of its duties. It was Hippocrates who formulated the ethical rules for health practitioners. The World Health Organisation ignores these rules, when it comes to protecting the health of the victims of the consequences of the nuclear industry”.

Which brings forth: Ten years of hard work combating a difficult and challenging issue warrants public adulation beyond carrying posters back and forth, come rain or shine, trudging away in the heat of the sun or the freezing cold and snow in front of WHO Hdqs. Hopefully, this article serves that purpose for Alison Katz.

The mission of Independent WHO is to expose WHO’s failings whilst calling for WHO independence away from influence by the worldwide nuclear syndicate: According to WHO Independence’s Web Site: “The World Health Organization (WHO) is failing in its duty to protect those populations who are victims of radioactive contamination.”

Ms Katz worked inside the WHO for 18 years. She insists that WHO, in cahoots with IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), dangerously misrepresents the inherent dangers of ionizing radiation, an insinuation that smacks in the face with egregiousness galore.

Ms Katz’s April 2017 interview, which this article is based upon, can be heard in its entirety.

This article condenses and summarizes her one-hour interview. As such, according to Ms Katz: “The health consequences of nuclear activity, whether they are civil or military, are not known to the public… There has been a very high level cover up… including the WHO.”

For over 50 years WHO provided “a clean bill of health for nuclear power.” However, according to Ms Katz, that clean bill of health is not based upon independent science. It’s based upon “pseudo science” manipulated and largely controlled by the nuclear lobby and International Atomic Energy Agency, the Queen Bee of the pro-nuke Hive.

Furthermore, within the “United Nations family hierarchy,” WHO is entirely subservient to IAEA. In turn, IAEA reports to the Security Council of the UN or the very top echelon of the power hierarchy of the world, including France, China, UK, U.S., and the Russian Federation. Far and away, these are the world’s biggest nuke heads.

Connecting the dots leaves one breathless within a telling trail of pro-nuke advocacy of the highest order… hm-m-m, thus raising the question: How is it humanly possible for WHO to objectively, impartially, squarely and soberly analyze and recommend ionizing radiation issues on behalf of the general public?

Is it at all possible, even a little bit?

As it goes, the IAEA has two mandates, which sound innocent enough: (1) to prevent proliferation of nuclear power and (2) promotion of the use of the atom on a peaceful basis, ah-ah-ah… oh well, never mind. In reality, IAEA is a commercial lobbying org promoting use of the atom, yet at the same time, it dictates WHO procedures, standards, and published articles on the matter of nuclear radiation, prompting a very pregnant question: Is this a conflict of interest for WHO? Answer: Yes, it is! WHO is a creature of the dictates of IAEA, which is the world’s largest promoter of the atom. Whereas, WHO is supposed to “independently serve the public interest,” not kowtow to a nuclear advocacy powerhouse that reports to nuclear powerhouse countries that have a deepening love affair with nuclear power, warts and all.

For example, sixty (60) reactors are currently under construction in fifteen countries. In all, one hundred sixty (160) power reactors are in the planning stage and three hundred (300) more have been proposed. That’s a love affaire.

Meanwhile, as for WHO’s mandate: It serves as the leading authority of standards for public health, coordinating research, advising member states, and formulating ionizing radioactivity health policies. However, IAEA has been usurping WHO’s mandate for the past 50 years. In fact, a 1959 Agreement (WHA 12-40) between the two says WHO needs prior approval of IAEA before taking any action or publishing material dealing with nuclear, period!

As a result of this 50-year conflict of interest, which is deeply embedded by now, Ms Katz claims WHO must, absolutely must, become independent, thus breaking the stranglehold of numero uno promoter of nuclear power over WHO, which is mandated to serve the public, not IAEA.

Not only is there a serious conflict of interest, Katz claims WHO fails, time and again, to meet its mandate to the public, as for example:

1) WHO remained absent from Chernobyl for five years even though the WHO mandate requires it to be present the “day after a catastrophe” to evaluate and provide assistance. But, WHO was MIA for 5 years.

2) WHO does not issue independent reports on radiation issues. All nuclear-related reports are written by IAEA but published “in the name of the WHO.”

3) Following Chernobyl, there were two international conferences held to analyze the implications of the catastrophe; one held in Geneva in 1995 and the second in Kiev in 2001. The “Proceedings of the Conferences” were never published by WHO; thus, never made public even though WHO claims the proceedings are publicly available. Confusing? Yes! To this day, the relevant question remains: What did “the analyses” show?

As a result of WHO’s egregious conflicts, the world community has no independent arms-length source on nuclear radiation. That is a situation fraught with conflict and extremely difficult to accept, sans grimacing with a lot of teeth grinding.

Once again, with emphasis: There is no independent international authority reporting to the public on nuclear radiation…. none whatsoever. All information about nuclear radiation ultimately comes from the primary users/promoters of nuclear power even though they have a very big heavy axe to grind.

Of course, there are independent scientists, but they face enormous obstacles in coming forward with the truth, thereby risking monetary grants and risking personal positions, as well as family livelihood.

Not only that, but over the years all departments within WHO that dealt with nuclear radiation have been highly compromised. Even worse, according to Ms Katz, no senior radiation scientists work for WHO, none… nada.

What constitutes the “nuclear establishment” is a fair question; it consists of the major governments of the world like France and the U.S but led by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the top dog, establishing standards for the world. Strangely enough, there are no health experts at ICRP, prompting a logical question: Why not?

There is more to be concerned about, e.g., another shocking fact regarding ICRP, as if there are not already enough shockers with the thread that runs throughout nuclear power’s closely-knit network: Even though “ionizing radiation is mutagenic and always causes mutations, causing damage at the cellular level, there are no molecular biologists working in the ICRP” (Katz). Thus, the world’s largest institution for determination of radiation standards for the public has no molecular biologists on staff. That fact is beyond belief, an eye-opener beyond all other eye-openers.

It’s almost as if the regulators don’t give a damn about the effects of radiation on the general public. Do they?………….

Fukushima…….

Consequences of Chernobyl……..

Effects of Radiation

The genetic effects of radiation likely exceed anything understood by the general public, as WHO and other health orgs do not properly educate the public about radiation’s risks: “The genetic effects, far from diminishing with time, increase” (Katz), which is extra bad.

Years of research around Chernobyl show that the genetic impact of radiation to the human body becomes much, much worse as time passes. Thus, “radiation is both a continuing and a worsening catastrophe as time passes” (Katz). Radiation’s impact gets worse over time; it does not heal, does not dissipate, does not go away; it grows progressively worse, like the film sequels to Godzilla, which was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear weapons in the early 1950s.

Indisputably, all organ systems of the human body are affected by radioactive contamination. Cancer is not the only nasty result of radiation exposure. Radioactive contamination affects the entire human immune system from head to toe, thus impacting every organ system in the body, e.g. musculoskeletal, etc. This damage to organs is in addition to the various cancer risks.

After all, consider this, 30 years after the fact, horribly deformed Chernobyl Children are found in over 300 asylums in the Belarus backwoods deep in the countryside.

Equally as bad but maybe more odious, as of today, Chernobyl radiation, since 1986, is already affecting 2nd generation kids.

According to a USA Today article, Chernobyl’s Legacy: Kids With Bodies Ravaged by Disaster, April 17, 2016: “There are 2,397,863 people registered with Ukraine’s health ministry to receive ongoing Chernobyl-related health care. Of these, 453,391 are children — none born at the time of the accident. Their parents were children in 1986. These children have a range of illnesses: respiratory, digestive, musculoskeletal, eye diseases, blood diseases, cancer, congenital malformations, genetic abnormalities, trauma.”

It’s taken 30 years for the world, via an article in USA Today, to begin to understand how devastating, over decades, not over a few years, radiation exposure is to the human body. It is a silent killer that cumulates in the body over time and passes from generation to generation to generation, endless destruction that cannot be stopped.

Where is WHO is kinda like Where is Waldo, but sadly the effects of ionizing radiation are not part of a game. It is deadly serious, forevermore. In the meanwhile, Fukushima irradiates and irradiates, limitlessly and so far, unstoppable. Where does its radiation go?

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com  http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/02/hidden-radiation-secrets-of-the-world-health-organization/

 

May 3, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

World Nuclear Lobby bewails Britain’s lack of progress on Small Modular Nuclear reactors (SMRs)

UK nuclear’s future in government hands, say reports, World Nuclear News, 2 May 17Two UK parliamentary committees have published separate reports – one related to research and development, the other concerning Brexit – that both call on the government to take action to ensure the future competitiveness of the country’s nuclear industry.

According to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, “We have reached a critical moment for the future of the United Kingdom as a serious nuclear nation.” It continues, “The undoubted potential of the civil nuclear sector has been blighted by the indecision of successive governments.”…..

SMR competition

The government’s failure to make a decision on its strategy for small modular reactors (SMRs) “is a prime example of its inaction in the civil nuclear arena”, the report says. “Not keeping to the stated timetable for the SMR competition has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector in the UK and if the government does not act soon the necessary high level of industrial interest will not be maintained.”

Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) chief executive Tom Greatrex said the industry shares the committee’s “frustration” with the SMR competition. “With a potential global market for SMRs valued at £250-£400 billion ($323-$517 billion), the government must provide clarity as soon as possible after the general election if the energy, industrial and export opportunities of a UK SMR are to be realised.”

Tom Mundy, NuScale Power’s chief commercial officer and managing director for the company in the UK and Europe, also said a “clear direction” on SMRs from the government is needed. “We therefore welcome the committee’s call for the government’s SMR strategy to be published, setting out what the next steps will be to make SMRs a reality for the UK.”

Committee chairman, John Roundell Palmer, said: “We also found that the amount of UK funding for nuclear research, development and innovation is much lower than public funding levels in other leading nuclear nations, including the US, France and Japan. If the government’s aim is for the UK to be active across the main areas of nuclear R&D it needs to make significant investments in new technologies or we risk falling behind the rest of the world.”

Brexit

The committee also said the nuclear industry faces risks if the UK’s membership of European Atomic Energy Community (Euratom) expires at the end of the two-year negotiating period without a replacement. It warned, “The UK risks losing its lead in fusion research as well as losing access to the markets and skills it needs to construct new nuclear power plants and existing power plants could be unable to acquire fuel.”…….http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP-UK-nuclear-industrys-future-in-government-hands-say-reports-0205174.html

May 3, 2017 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

A message to the South African government: stop feeding us nuclear propaganda!

Eskom has told the public that they will manage the massive nuclear-build programme in a responsible manner, devoid of significant cost overruns, corruption and scope creep. Yet the court of public opinion is unconvinced, following years of a lack in transparency and many incidents of questionable leadership conduct, combined with Eskom’s inability to curtail gross runaway costs on projects at Medupi, Kusile and Ingula.

Our message to government and their pro-nuclear lobbyists is to stop trying to feed us with propaganda.

Pro nuclear lobbyists and government must stop propaganda campaign, BizNews.com, Wayne Duvenage, 2 May 17 “………What I find amazing,however, is the pro nuclear lobbyists’ belief that they alone are the experts and that civil society must simply trust their views on what is best for our country’s energy needs. Government has become its own worst enemy on the nuclear issue, believing they have the right to make these costly capital decisions without the necessary public engagement or for legally required parliamentary processes to take place.

-Government furthermore gives the impression that they don’t have to answer or offer explanation about the expose related to secret supplier agreements with Rosatom (yes this did happen), or the need for haste with the nuclear decision, or the use of an outdated 2010 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), or the exorbitant costs of the scheme and how this will be financed.

For months the pro-nuclear clan have complained that the R1-trillion price tag of a 9.6 GW nuclear programme is incorrect, but they overlook the need to provide the public with a credible response as to what the expected price tag should be.

And for as many months, the pro-nuclear campaigners appeared intent on challenging the public’s intellect by quoting nuclear energy from the 33-year-old Koeberg nuclear plant as being the lowest priced electricity in South Africa (between 21c and 43c/ kWh), as if to imply that this is what we can expect from future nuclear-build programmes.

Input from credible researchers purport the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE – i.e. over the lifetime of the plant) from a new nuclear-build programme to cost South Africans between R1.30 and R1.50 per kWh, and this is before adding in any tax effects, decommissioning, long-term waste disposal and plant life extension costs into account. This is well above the figure of R0.97c/kWh used in the 2016 update of the IRP, sourced from a secret DOE research document. The waters are muddy indeed.

Eskom has told the public that they will manage the massive nuclear-build programme in a responsible manner, devoid of significant cost overruns, corruption and scope creep. Yet the court of public opinion is unconvinced, following years of a lack in transparency and many incidents of questionable leadership conduct, combined with Eskom’s inability to curtail gross runaway costs on projects at Medupi, Kusile and Ingula.

While the authorities continue to make new energy build project decisions based on an outdated Integrated Energy Plan (IEP), the public will remain sceptical. While the DOE chooses to ignore the recommendations of the Minister of Energy’s own experts around least-cost energy choices in the IRP, business will not invest. And for as long as government shuns its critics and keeps civil society’s experts at bay from scrutinising their assumptions and costs which inform the forthcoming IRP process, mistrust will remain high.

Then there is the question of the actual need for new energy build programme decisions in the next five to 10 years, taking into account that:

  • South Africa’s current electricity generation capacity is roughly 45GW.
  • Coal = 38.5 GW; nuclear (Koeberg) = 1.94GW; hydro = 1.5 GW (including 0.8GW Cabora import) and RE = 3.1 GW. This excludes reserve capacity of peaking gas and hydro at 5.3 GW.
  • By 2022, current new build generation projects will take this to 55GW. Medupi (3.2 GW); Kusile (4.0 GW); Additional RE (3 GW).
  • Yet today’s electricity requirements only average around 26.6 GW.
    • With demand ranging between 22 and 32 GW.
    • Demand has reduced over the past five years with little increase expected in the next few years.
    • Even if one anticipated a healthy economic growth for SA at an unlikely high rate of 2.5% per annum for the next 10 years, experts do not predict additional electricity demand to exceed 6 to 7 GW, for the next decade.
  • Set aside 15% of total capacity for maintenance, and introduce decommissioning of a few older coal fired plans and our capacity still exceeds demand a decade from now.
  • Clearly, we don’t need to make a decision on new energy build projects for at least the next five years, leaving us ample time to assess options and build for possible higher demand by around 2030.
  • There is simply no need to rush the nuclear decision in the manner currently being undertaken.
  • Add to the above the fact that many countries are decommissioning current or cancelling future nuclear build programmes, while the rate of introduction of renewable energy continues to soar. With less than 5% of our electricity coming from RE and many countries around the world at 30% and climbing, the people of South Africa need an extremely rational explanation behind our government’s hasty appetite for nuclear energy, which appears to shun conventional wisdom.If there was ever an issue that was shrouded in public uncertainty and confusion in recent times, it is government’s nuclear energy build plan. And the reasons thereof lie squarely at the feet of government and their State-Owned Entities.

    Our message to government and their pro-nuclear lobbyists is to stop trying to feed us with propaganda. Let’s get together and hear each other. What this country urgently needs is an energy charter, one that will provide the necessary clarity of our energy needs and solutions thereto. However, in order to ensure credibility, the Energy Charter process would need to be well informed, inclusive and absolutely transparent.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | South Africa, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) just not happening in Britain

Alarm sounded over delays to develop UK mini nuclear reactors Lords scold government for lack of progress on small modular reactors plan, warning UK nuclear sector will suffer if firms walk away, Guardian, Adam Vaughan, 2 May 17, The government’s failure to deliver on a multimillion-pound competition to develop mini atomic power stations has hurt the nuclear sector and risks international companies walking away from the UK, a Lords committee has warned.

In 2015 the then chancellor George Osborne promised £250m over five years for a nuclear research and development programme, an undisclosed sum of which was for a competition to pave the way for small modular reactors.

These reactors are much smaller than conventional nuclear plants with a capacity of less than 300MW – or a 10th of what Hinkley Point C should provide.

But the government has failed to even publish results of the first phase of the competition, expected last autumn, which the Lords science and technology committee said was “particularly alarming”.

“This has had a negative effect on the nuclear sector in the UK and if the government does not act soon the necessary high level of industrial interest will not be maintained,” they said in a report on Tuesday.

The peers urged ministers to publish their plans for small modular reactors (SMRs) without delay, and scolded the government for not showing any urgency to make a decision…….

Newcastle-based Penultimate Power UK, which hopes to capitalise on the market, told the committee that a lack of clarity from government had paralysed development of nuclear power generation technology…….

Government officials said earlier this year that one of the attractions of mini nuclear power stations was they fitted with the industrial strategy launched by Theresa May. But Tom Wintle, deputy director at the business department, said they had to provide affordable power.

“SMRs will need to deliver energy cost-competitively if they are to play a part in the UK’s future energy mix. As well as securing low-carbon energy, government is also committed to keeping down the cost of that energy for consumers, so there is a key challenge there for the nuclear industry as a whole and for SMRs,” he told an industry conference. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/02/alarm-sounded-over-delays-to-develop-uk-mini-nuclear-reactors

May 3, 2017 Posted by | technology, UK | Leave a comment

Following its Nuclear Fiasco, Toshiba to Split into Four Subsidiaries

http://breakingenergy.com/2017/05/02/toshiba-to-split-into-four-subsidiaries/ on May 02, 2017 Early this year, Toshiba made the strategic decision to divest from its Westinghouse nuclear power generator in America. Now, the Chinese company has decided that splitting into subsidiaries is the only way to protect its other businesses. The four subsidiaries will be (1) infrastructure (including water treatment and railways); (2) energy (including thermal and nuclear power); (3) electronics (including data storage); (4) information and communications.

With the exception of the new energy subsidiary, the rest of the spin-offs would come into being in July 2017. Energy is set to be in effect in October.

The significant of the bankruptcy of Westinghouse is still unclear – many are concerned that the shutdown will have an effect on the nuclear power sector. As the four new subsidiaries demonstrate, the ramifications of this bankruptcy are clearly having their way with Toshiba.

 On the eve of the imminent bankruptcy, Moody’s Investors Service changed their outlook on all five utility companies involved in the project. Each was given a negative outlook.

The measures taken by Moody’s apply to the Vogtle entities. That is, Georgia Power, Oglethorpe Power and the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. Also included are the entities of the Summer project. Specifically, SCANA Corp. and the South Carolina Electric and Gas Subsidiary, as well as to the South Caroline Public Service Authority.

Moody’s justifies the new outlook as being reflective of the increased credit and regulatory risk that will be a result of the bankruptcy. The depleted financial condition of Toshiba contributes to this risk. In February, the company took a $6.3 billion write-down associated with Westinghouse’s overrun costs at the two nuclear projects in America.

Now, the bankruptcy has left Toshiba with what can amount to billions of dollars in potential losses. This presents serious struggles for the nearly 150 year old conglomerate. After the bankruptcy was announced, Toshiba shares in Tokyo stumbled nearly 4%. Moreover, losses from last year left the company with $2.1 billion of negative shareholder equity, which threatens its position on the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

More immediate concerns for the company include the expiration of construction licenses, which are needed to sell equipment to the power industry. Unfortunately, the licenses have to be renewed every five years, but require that the company meet certain equity and capital targets. Toshiba’s weakened state jeopardizes the renewal process.

Some of Toshiba’s other revenue streams offer products such as turbines for gas, hydro, and geothermal plants. These power sector products are important to the company, and so the decision to create the subsidiaries is largely to protect those businesses from the potential fall out regarding the Westinghouse bankruptcy. Otherwise, the bankruptcy might end up being a roadblock to engaging in the power sector further.

With regards to the nuclear industry, the bankruptcy has the potential to threaten the completion of two current reactor projects in progress in the Southeast. Further, there is practically zero change that any new nuclear facility in the U.S. will be built in the foreseeable future.

Simply put, nuclear facilities are no longer cost effective. They were intended as an alternative to dirty  fossil fuels and expensive green energy, but neither of those are as problematic as they used to be. It seems as if the industry has no prospects left.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan | Leave a comment