nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Frogs WILL get out of hot water – humans apparently NOT

It’s a myth that frogs will stay in water that slowly heats, until they die.  In reality, they will try to get out, as soon as the temperature becomes uncomfortable. Right now, homo sapiens is dreaming on, in our warming world, as climate change gets to crisis stage. Computer models were showing the coming impacts of climate change: now real life events show them.

This newsletter, and websites, were intended to promote the nuclear-free movement. They still are, but (except for the threat of nuclear war), the global climate emergency is now the most pressing issue. The Guardian has this week shown how some areas are especially threatened: – in SpainBangladesh , Malawi, Norway, Brazil,  New York, Philippines.

 

UN Human Rights Council on protection of human rights from the impacts of climate change: even USA is supportive.  Research on climate change and migration.

Worrying climate news, as a huge ice shelf melts, in Antarctica.

Second round of UN nuclear ban talks begins in New York.  Global Collaboration Towards a Legally Binding Ban on Nuclear Weapons.Radiation research foundation to apologize for studying but not treating hibakusha, A-bomb survivors submit petition for nuclear ban.

PORTUGAL. Climate change, and Portugal’s deadly fires.

USA. Airplanes grounded because of heatwave. Climate Change Is Shrinking the Colorado River.

RUSSIA.  Russia angered by Nato surrounding Baltic fleet in Kaliningrad- unprecedented war games.  Ever increasing piles of toxic Russian radioactive trash – a challenge for Norway and Russia to clean up. As the global renewable energy transition speeds up, Russia gambles on nuclear energy. Russia holds AtomExpo – a triumph of nuclear marketing.  Rosatom’s plans to DEVELOP NUCLEAR CLUSTER IN SOUTH AFRICA .

UK.  Bank of England to probe banks’ exposure to climate change.  Brexit brings Britain’s nuclear industry to a “cliff edge”.   Wylfa nuclear power project threatens the biodiversity of North Wales nature reserve.   National Audit Office considers Hinkley Point C nuclear power plan ‘risky and expensive’.  Should British tax-payers cough up for both Hinkley and Wylfa nuclear power boondoggles?

SOUTH KOREA. South Korea’s major turn away from nuclear energy with Kori-1’s permanent shutdown.

JAPAN. Students and researchers at research reactors should have background checks, warns Japan’s nuclear regulator.  Plutonium in workers’ urine at Oarai Research and Development Center.  Fukushima. Fukushima’s Radiation will poison food ‘for decades’ Study Finds. For Fukushima returnees, security a growing concern in deserted towns.

NORTH KOREA. There are “positive signals” on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue  – China. New activity at North Korean nuclear test site.

SOUTH AFRICA. Nuclear deal with Russia is central to the corruption in South Africa. President Jacob Zuma says South Africa is committed to nuclear power expansion.   President Zuma “knows nothing” about nuclear corruption in South Africa, or his family benefiting.

FRANCE. Flamanville nuclear reactor: EPR pressure vessel does not comply with safety regulations.

INDIA. India gives up on importing Western nuclear reactors, to save face, will build its own.

GREENLAND. As Greenland Ice Sheet thaws, old nuclear missile site Camp Century is revealed.

June 25, 2017 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

65th financial payment for Tepco: 1,46 billion $

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Tepco announces that it has received the 65th financial installment from the government support structure, which is advancing money for compensation: 164.8 billion yen (1,46 billion dollars).

This is a much higher amount than the last time and this money is loaned without interest.
Tepco has already received a total of 7,358.5 billion yen (67, 16 billion dollars at current prices) and this will not be enough.

http://fukushima.eu.org/65ieme-versement-financier-pour-tepco/

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Former Senator John Edwards Representing Thousands of United States Veterans Injured in Nuclear Disaster

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RALEIGH, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the U.S. sailors who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation assisting in humanitarian relief efforts to Japan following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Based on the ruling, the sailors are able to continue their suit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) allowing the sailors to pursue their case in the District Court in San Diego. It is possible that the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima plant affected up to 75,000 U.S. citizens, even after TEPCO deemed the conditions safe.

After meeting with attorneys from both sides last December, the United States Government submitted an amicus curiae brief expressing its belief that nothing should prevent the sailors from litigating their case here in America. Today’s Court of Appeals ruling reinforces the government’s desire that the sailors’ fight for justice will take place in the United States and not Japan as TEPCO and the Government of Japan had previously requested.

These members of the United States Navy deserve their day in court, and they will get it,” said former Senator Edwards. “These American heroes served the United States and were innocent victims in a nuclear disaster that never should have happened. This case has broad U.S. interests, both because of our nation’s long-standing relationship with Japan, and because plaintiffs in this case are members of the U.S. military harmed while on a humanitarian mission.”

As recently as this week, three former executives from TEPCO were charged criminally in Japan with contributing to deaths and injuries stemming from the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In addition, the Japanese government investigated the nuclear disaster and found that TEPCO was grossly negligent.

In 2011, U.S. sailors aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan were poisoned by radiation during Operation Tomodachi (“friend”). The humanitarian mission was in response to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake which triggered a tsunami in Japan that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Relief efforts included delivering food, supplies and clothing to the people ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami.

The plaintiffs, led by Lindsay R. Cooper and other members of the U.S. Navy and their dependents, have suffered and continue to be diagnosed with extensive injuries including blindness, thyroid cancer, leukemia and brain tumors. The lawsuit is not only against TEPCO, but several other co-defendants, including General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi.

Former Senator Edwards, his daughter Cate Edwards and California-based attorneys Charles Bonner, Cabral Bonner and Paul Garner are continuing to expand their suit against TEPCO. If you are a U.S. Sailor affected by this, you can reach attorneys working on this litigation at 844.283.9434 or http://fukushima.edwardskirby.com/

About Edwards Kirby:

Edwards Kirby is a national law firm, led by former U.S. Senator and trial attorney John Edwards and David Kirby, with offices in Raleigh, N.C. and San Diego, CA. The firm offers leading representation for plaintiffs in matters of personal injury, public and product safety, consumer protection, health care and medical liability, or civil rights and discrimination. For more information on the firm or its attorneys, please visit www.edwardskirby.com.

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170622006227/en/Senator-John-Edwards-Representing-Thousands-United-States

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

9th Circ. Allows Sailors’ $1B Fukushima Suit To Proceed

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Law360, New York (June 22, 2017, 3:25 PM EDT) — The Ninth Circuit on Thursday upheld a lower court’s decision to allow sailors to pursue their $1 billion lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. over radiation injuries they allegedly suffered during their response to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

TEPCO had sought to dismiss the suit on the grounds that U.S. courts lack jurisdiction. A lower court declined to grant that motion, and on appeal, the Ninth Circuit sided with that judge, beginning with TEPCO’s theory that the suit is blocked by the 1997 Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage — an effort to establish an international liability framework for nuclear accidents.

The unanimous panel said the Convention’s provision that limits jurisdiction over nuclear accidents to the country in which it occurs only applies to claims arising after the Convention’s entry into force, which was April 2015. The sailors’ lawsuit was filed in December 2012. The panel paid particular attention to the portion of the Convention that gives exclusive jurisdiction to “the courts of the contracting party within which the nuclear incident occurs.”

“The use of the present tense suggests that the provision applies to future nuclear incidents and does not include past incidents,” the panel said. “One would expect the drafters to have used the past tense had they intended to alter jurisdiction over claims arising out of nuclear incidents that occurred before the CSC’s entry into force.”

TEPCO had also argued federal courts lack jurisdiction over the case because of the international comity doctrine, which allows a court to dismiss a case when another country has a strong interest in handling the claims and can adequately do so.

The panel noted that the Fukushima incident did happen in Japan, giving that country “a strong interest” in the litigation. But it also acknowledged that the plaintiffs are U.S. service members, giving this country a strong interest in the case as well. The government of Japan and the U.S. filed briefs on the question, both asserting their own country was the proper legal venue. Ultimately the panel was swayed by the U.S.’ argument that “allowing the suit to continue in California is consistent with U.S. interests in promoting the CSC.”

“In hopes that other countries would do the same, the United States [prior to the Convention] may have preferred that U.S. courts not exercise jurisdiction over claims arising out of foreign nuclear incidents. But that policy appears to have changed,” the panel said. “Now that the United States has ratified the CSC, the State Department takes the position that it would prefer to keep exclusive jurisdiction as a bargaining chip to encourage other nations to join the CSC. We owe this view deference.”

The panel also rejected TEPCO’s argument that the case does not belong in the U.S. under the doctrine of forum non conveniens, which allows a court to dismiss a case when it would be more conveniently handled in a foreign forum.

“In this case, plaintiffs are U.S. citizens, and their decision to sue in the United States must be respected. The district court properly took plaintiffs’ choice of their home forum into consideration and did not abuse its discretion in finding that other private and public considerations did not outweigh plaintiffs’ interest in suing at home,” the panel said.

Finally, the panel rejected TEPCO’s argument that the plaintiffs’ claims are nonjusticiable under the “political question” doctrine — which holds that the court cannot rule on fundamentally political questions.

But the panel left open the possibility that either the international comity doctrine or the political question doctrine could be used as a reason to dismiss the sailors’ lawsuit once the case progresses and more facts come to light.

U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino in October 2014 granted TEPCO’s motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ strict liability and design defect claims, but denied TEPCO’s motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Judges A. Wallace Tashima, Kim McLane Wardlaw and Jay S. Bybee sat on the panel.

The sailors are represented by Charles A. Bonner, Adam Cabral Bonner and Paul C. Garner of the Law Offices of Bonner & Bonner and John R. Edwards and Catharine E. Edwards of Edwards Kirby.

TEPCO is represented by Daniel P. Collins, Bryan H. Heckenlively and Gregory P. Stone of Munger Tolles & Olson LLP.

The government is represented by Benjamin C. Mizer, Laura E. Duffy, Douglas N. Letter, Sharon Swingle and Dana Kaersvang of the U.S. Department of Justice; Brian J. Egan of the U.S. Department of State; and Jennifer M. O’Connor of the U.S. Department of Defense.

GE is represented by Michael D. Schissel, John B. Bellinger III, Lisa S. Blatt, David J. Weiner, Elisabeth S. Theodore and Sally L. Pei of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP.

The case is Lindsay R. Cooper et al. v. Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc., case number 15-56424, in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

https://www.law360.com/california/articles/937440/9th-circ-allows-sailors-1b-fukushima-suit-to-proceed

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June 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Radiation Sick US Sailors Allowed to Sue Japan’s State-Owned Nuclear Plant Operator Tepco

quake-carrier-large_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqbFWWpigZGUS2rP-sASCChpsJBeO1fiTp7A-5pLIp0iQ.jpgThe aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan heads towards the earthquake and tsunami affected areas of Japan in 2011

 

US sailors who ‘fell sick from Fukushima radiation’ allowed to sue Japan, nuclear plant operator

A US appeals court has ruled that hundreds of American navy personnel can pursue a compensation suit against the government of Japan and Tokyo Electric Power Co. for illnesses allegedly caused by exposure to radioactivity in the aftermath of the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on Thursday that the 318 sailors who have so far joined the $1 billion (£787 million) class action lawsuit do not need to file their case in Japan.

Most of the plaintiffs were aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier that was dispatched to waters off north-east Japan after the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima plant. Three reactors suffered catastrophic meltdowns and released large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere after their cooling units were destroyed by a magnitude-9 earthquake and a series of tsunami.

The plaintiffs claim that they were healthy and physically fit before they were exposed to the radiation plume, with some personnel reporting the air on the flight deck tasting “metallic”.

The crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant

The California-based law firm representing the plaintiffs say they have been affected by a range of complaints, ranging from leukaemia to ulcers, brain cancer, brain tumours, testicular cancer, thyroid illnesses and stomach complaints.

The suit claims that TEPCO is financially responsible for the sailors’ medial treatment because it failed to accurately inform the Japanese government of the scale of the problem.

The Japanese government, the suit alleges, also failed to inform the US that radiation leaking from the plant posed a threat to the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan and other US assets dispatched to assist in “Operation Tomodachi”, meaning “friend” in Japanese.

The case was originally filed in San Diego in 2012, but has been delayed over the question of where it should be heard. The US government has also vehemently denied that any personnel were exposed to levels of radiation that would have had an impact on their health during the Fukushima recovery mission.

Interviewed for the San Diego City Beat newspaper in February, William Zeller said: “Right now, I know I have problems but I’m afraid of actually finding out how bad they really are.”

Formerly a martial arts instructor, he now uses a breathing machine when he goes to sleep due to respiratory problems he blames on his exposure aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in 2011.

“I literally just go to work and go home now”, he said. “I don’t have the energy or pain threshold to deal with anything else”.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/23/us-sailors-fell-sick-fukushima-radiation-allowed-sue-japan-nuclear/

“A federal appeals court has ruled that members of the US Navy can now, in a US court, pursue their lawsuit which alleges that they were exposed to radiation while providing aid after the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan.”

USS Reagan crew can sue Japanese company over Fukushima nuclear disaster – court

A federal appeals court has ruled that members of the US Navy can now, in a US court, pursue their lawsuit which alleges that they were exposed to radiation while providing aid after the nuclear crisis in Fukushima, Japan.

On Thursday, the US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled in favor of the sailors who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation while providing humanitarian aid after an earthquake destroyed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan.

The ruling allows sailors, who were aboard the ship at the time, to pursue their lawsuit against the state-owned Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) for misrepresented radiation levels in the surrounding air and water. The lawsuit alleges that TEPCO misled them about the extent of the radiation leak.

An investigation into the incident found that TEPCO did not take proper precautions to prevent the incident and described the meltdown as a “manmade” disaster. TEPCO later admitted the meltdown could have been avoided. 

The Japanese government set up the Nuclear Damage Claim Dispute Resolution Center to deal with all the claims against TEPCO. So far, a total of $58 billion has been paid out to victims of the disaster.

However, TEPCO asked the courts to dismiss the case from the US sailors under the “firefighter’s rule,” which states that first responders cannot sue those who caused the emergency.

Up to 75,000 US citizens could have been affected by the meltdown, according to former Democratic senator and presidential candidate John Edwards who is presenting the case in court.

“These members of the United States Navy deserve their day in court, and they will get it,”said Edwards. “These American heroes served the United States and were innocent victims in a nuclear disaster that never should have happened. This case has broad US interests, both because of our nation’s long-standing relationship with Japan, and because plaintiffs in this case are members of the US military harmed while on a humanitarian mission.”

The sailors continue to suffer from blindness, thyroid cancer, leukemia and brain tumors, Edwards said.

Attorneys are seeking $1 billion in damages from TEPCO and several other defendants, including General Electric,

https://www.rt.com/usa/393665-fukushima-reagan-lawsuit-us/

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

The Rancher Who Refused to Leave: A Fukushima Story

Masami Yoshizawa hauled his radiated cows down to Tokyo, demanding that his animals be studied.
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Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 11, 2011

Masami Yoshizawa, who’d driven half an hour up the coast from his ranch in Namie to pick up a few cans of spray paint, climbed out of his truck and headed for the home improvement center’s entrance with a jerky stride that belied his sleepy expression. Eyes half-closed, he seemed to look without seeing. He’d worked with livestock for years—nudging heifers into pens and shoving curious calves away from tractor wheels—and he’d taken on an oblivious, almost animal way of moving. In the Cainz Home store, he took a plastic basket from a stack next to the automatic doors and was wandering an aisle between two tall shelves, a couple cans of spray paint clinking in his carrier, when the quake struck.

The first vibration might’ve been a shiver running down his spine, but soon the towering metal shelves began to sway, tracing wider and wider arcs through the air. A convulsion from deep in the ground seized the building, sending fry pans, plastic buckets, dog food, and bottles of window cleaner crashing to the floor. The store rang with shouts of surprise.

When the tremors stilled he hurried to the front. The clerk in the checkout lane did her best—totaling up the aerosol cans, taking his money, putting his spray paint in a bag—but her hands shook with panic, or maybe because the earth was rumbling again.

A voice came over the PA: “Everyone outside please.”

Masami went for the exit. In the parking lot, waves rippled through the ground. The asphalt swelled without cracking. Above, power lines coiled like snakes. The shaking wasn’t vertical or horizontal but came from all directions at once.

Among the crowd of people who’d run out of Cainz Home, there was one old man who took a portable AM-FM receiver out of his car—there was no cell phone signal—and started tuning it. Gradually, as the convulsions faded, everyone in the lot drifted toward the radio’s staticky crackle.

The announcer was struggling to stay calm: “A large tsunami warning is being issued for coastal Fukushima Prefecture. Please leave coastal areas and evacuate to elevated ground. For the earthquake that occurred at 2:46, strong level-6 tremors are being reported in Shirakawa, Sukagawa, Namie . . . at 3:10 p.m., the forecast is for a three-meter tsunami along the Fukushima coast. Tsunami arrival predictions for Fukushima Prefecture: Iwaki City, Onahama, 3:30 p.m., three-meter waves; Souma City, 3:40 p.m., three-meter waves…”

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It was almost 3:00 p.m. and the highway that led back to Namie and his cattle ranch ran along the coast. Masami’s land was in the hills, away from any waves, but he had no idea if the house or outbuildings were damaged. He couldn’t call Shizue, his sister, who lived with him. He had to get back.

He jumped in his truck, fired up the engine, and whipped out of the parking lot. The road had sunk and cracked in places, and traffic was stacking up. In thirty minutes, a wall of water would crash over the shore and flood the road in three places. The land between the highway and the sea would be inundated, the houses there crushed and washed away. But Masami didn’t know this. As he drove—the gray ocean only a couple kilometers away, a few whitecaps rolling across the otherwise peaceful water—he was thinking only of home.

Yoshizawa Ranch was almost eighty acres in rural Namie. It had started with his father: Masami’s old man had gone to Manchuria during the Second World War as a government-sponsored farm-settler, and, following Japan’s defeat, had somehow survived three years in a Soviet prison camp; he’d returned to Yotsukaido, in Chiba Prefecture, where he started a family and another farm. Masami and his older brother and sister were born there in the Kanto region, near Tokyo, but when real estate grew expensive and the government began dividing the land into smaller parcels—to build freeways and an international airport in Narita—his father, who’d been hoping to buy a bigger plot, sold and moved up north to Namie, in Fukushima. He worked hard to establish a dairy; he was still working the day he was pinned beneath a tractor and killed at the age of sixty-five. Masami’s older brother had taken over the operation, but it wasn’t long before he became involved with a woman who promised him marriage if he gave her a little money and then a little more. By the time Masami intervened—suing his own brother to keep him from selling their family’s acreage—all the heifers had been auctioned off. After his brother left for Kyushu, never to return, Jun Murata, a rancher from nearby Nihonmatsu, had suggested Masami try beef instead of dairy cows. Jun had given Masami forty head and brought him into the M Ranch Company’s operations. It had taken a decade, but by the time the earthquake struck he was responsible for 328 kuro-wagyu, Japanese black cows. Eventually, Masami hoped to have a herd of six hundred.

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To build the two barns where he sheltered his cows he’d learned how to weld, pour concrete, run wiring. As with any product of one’s own hands he knew every imperfection of the cowsheds. The house would be fine, he told himself as he sped down the highway—it had been built with steel-reinforced concrete and had a woodstove for heat—no, it was the barns he worried about.

An hour later, the dirt and sweat and shit smell of the cattle greeted him as he pulled in and saw the cowsheds were still standing, though the quake had split the ground in the main pasture, leaving gashes of fresh dirt in the valley’s grassy floor. The power would be out, the electric fences down, though the cows hadn’t realized this. The small shed he’d built for the well pump beside the house had collapsed; the pipe that sent water from the ranch’s elevated cistern to the cows’ watering troughs was busted.

Shit,” he muttered. The herd drank several thousand liters a day. Even more than hay or grain his cows lived on water.

Without electricity, the main well’s pump was offline, and, anyway, fixing it would take time. He decided to try to get the house’s pump running.

He kept a welding torch, oxygen tank, and generator in the back of a light truck just in case, and he hopped in the mud-crusted Mitsubishi and put it in gear. He backed the truck up the slight slope beside the house and hooked the pump up to the generator, but when he got it running the pressure was weak. Only a trickle came from the barn’s spigots. It would take him hours to fill the troughs. By the time he’d finished the daylight had all but faded.

With the cows seen to, Masami went inside. His cell had no signal, but there was a landline in the house. He dialed Murata-san and told his boss about the damage at the ranch, but adding that with the water back on the cows were fine for now.

After hanging up, he asked Shizue for the keys to her car: “I want to watch the news.”

With the power out he couldn’t watch TV in the house, but he could tune in to digital One Seg channels on her Subaru’s navigation system.

In the parked car, he turned the key so that the dashboard monitor flickered on and on NHK he watched footage from Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, a suburb of Sendai about an hour’s drive north. The video had been taken from the air and showed the tsunami like a black tide of broken boards, burning houses, and swept-up boats, a stain spreading across rice fields, blotting out a greenhouse, chasing a car down a road. He noticed the message scrolling across the bottom of the screen: Those within a three-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant are instructed to evacuate, those within ten kilometers are advised to stay indoors.

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If he stood on the house’s porch and faced the ocean, he could see the plant’s ventilation towers on the horizon. The power station’s name ticking across the bottom of the screen was like a dark cloud he’d long feared appearing on the horizon.

When he first moved to Fukushima TEPCO had already been operating the Daiichi plant in Okuma for six years. Another electric utility wanted to build a new nuclear power station a few kilometers up the coast, on a piece of land that straddled both Namie and Minami-Souma. Locals were fighting the plan and Masami identified with them. Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, he’d come of age during an era of mass demonstrations, as entire swaths of Japan challenged the country’s postwar order. When he was a high school student in Chiba the farmers around Narita had joined forces with New Left groups in Tokyo to fight the construction of an international airport on their land. The riot police’s armored buses passed on the highway in front of his school, while trains packed with protestors from the universities rattled over the tracks behind the baseball field. Seeing the college kids alongside the growers—the former with their glasses and flowing hair, the latter with their jika-tabi work boots and stained undershirts, but all of them wearing hardhats covered in hand-scrawled slogans and standing behind bamboo barricades—had opened his eyes to the possibility of resistance. Later, at Tokyo University of Agriculture, Masami was elected student body president and managed to catch the tail end of the demonstrations against the Vietnam War and the American military’s use of Japan’s ports. Never an academic standout, his proudest moments came during the marches, when he got on the megaphone to denounce the government, or the US-Japanese Security Treaty, or war in general.

After graduating and coming to work on his father’s dairy, he’d taken a similar stance toward the nuclear power facilities in the area. Though he wasn’t a member of any political party, he became familiar with the local leftists; a former Japanese Communist Party candidate gave him an enormous speaker, which he mounted on top of a little Honda van. When the government in Minami-Souma began building a garbage-burning facility he drove out and used it to protest the toxic gases it would release. The night after the tsunami, he decided to take a look at the damage to the town for himself.

He told his sister he was going out and bumped down the driveway in her little Subaru. There wasn’t any power in the town either, and without streetlights the cluster of houses and shops was the same pitch color as the surrounding forest. The few sources of light stood out all the more for the pre-industrial dark, and, as he drove, Masami drifted toward their glow. In front of the fire station, the local officials had put up a huge, white tent and ringed it with floodlights; firemen bustled between stacks of rescue equipment in their navy uniforms. The police station and town office were also lit up and busy with armies of officials. Other than these sights, in the car’s headlights Masami saw cracked walls, broken flowerpots, fissures in the asphalt—but nothing so terrible as what he’d seen in the news.

By the time he got home it was late. In the dark, the ranch was different; the cattle were quiet in their sheds, the pastures were fields of silence. Still, it wasn’t until he walked into the house that he noticed the distant thudding. He stood in front of the window, facing the ocean and the plant, looking past his own reflection for the source of the sound. He spotted a red dot hovering in the air above the coast: a helicopter.

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The realization that whatever was wrong with the plant was serious twisted through him. Though he’d never believed the claims about the power station’s safety, he’d also never conceived what danger would look and feel like. Unlike the havoc he’d seen on the news, it was right out there, just below that tiny, crimson point of light.

March 12

Like most ranchers, Masami was an early riser. The sun hadn’t been up long but he was already outside getting ready to feed. The nicotine from his morning cigarette and the crisp air were sweeping the last cobwebs of sleep from his mind when three police vans pulled into the driveway, the lights on their roofs flashing, sirens muted. He was sure they would ask him to evacuate.

I can’t go,” he would say. “I have my cows.”

As he walked toward where the policemen had parked on his driveway, a middle-aged officer approached Masami.

« Konnichwa »he said, bowing. “We’re with the Fukushima Police Communications Division. We—we’d like to set up a relay antenna on a corner of your property, if you don’t mind. Our helicopter is filming the plant.” The ranch was elevated, clear of trees and tall buildings, had sight lines all the way to the ocean. “We need to send the footage on to the main office, so they can monitor the situation.”

In general, Masami distrusted authority, but face-to-face with the officer there wasn’t any reason not to cooperate. More than anything, he was glad they weren’t there to force him off his land.

Yes, that’s fine,” he said.

As the officer turned and went back to his colleagues they were already unpacking a generator, a foldout table, and several rolls of cables that were plugged into a dish-shaped antenna, which they pointed toward the plant.

Around the same time Masami was talking to the officer, Prime Minister Naoto Kan was coming up from Tokyo in a Self-Defense Forces helicopter. At 7:11 a.m., Masami wouldn’t notice the slight change in the sound of the rotor-blades as Japan’s head of state flew over the stricken plant. Only later, when he heard about it on the news, would he realize how thoroughly the country’s attention had been drawn to his corner of the world.

But that morning, if he ignored the police, it might’ve been any late-winter day. He used the claw attachment on his tractor to carry one of the 300-kilogram bales from a stack by the driveway to the nearby barn. With a shovel he pushed the dried grass into the feed troughs on either side, and the cattle jostled for position. Soon the barn was loud with their chewing and lows. His sister came outside wrapped in a coat.

What did they want?” she asked, glancing at the police.

He repeated the explanation the officer had given him. “Something strange is happening at the plant.”

Though he hid it well, he felt the same worry he’d heard in his sister’s voice. Without power, information about the plant was hard to come by. Even when he managed to catch a glimpse of the One Seg channels in his sister’s car, the news reports were vague and contradictory. As a rancher, he was tied to the land. He couldn’t simply flee. Murata-san certainly didn’t expect him to abandon the ranch.

Rather than sit with this feeling, he decided to go take a look at the shore, to see if he couldn’t get a better look than he had the night before. He drove down route 114, which cut through the center of Namie, heading for the town’s Ukedo district.

Early that morning, the evacuation zone had been expanded to everyone living within ten kilometers of the plant. Fire patrol trucks had driven around announcing the news, and loudspeakers mounted on telephone and electric poles throughout Namie had relayed the message. As he drove toward the coast the roads were clogged with Self-Defense Forces troop transports, police cruisers, buses, and cars piled with belongings.

After he passed the small downtown, the traffic thinned. Before the tsunami Ukedo had been about 350 houses collected around a fishing port, but when Masami arrived at the coast he saw the district had been decimated.

He could still pick out shapes that resembled houses among the field of debris. The keel of a fishing trawler lay propped against the local fishing cooperative building; a blue-hulled skiff had been thrown into the structure’s second floor and lay upside down on a balcony. Cars were scattered everywhere, their metal crumpled and wrinkled like clothes just out of a washing machine. But no matter how recognizable the shapes, the waves had destroyed any difference between the piles of rubble. The twisted beams were the same as the overturned refrigerators; even the dead bodies buried among the wreckage were just so much more debris. To Masami it seemed like end of the world.

To the south, above a hilly elbow of the coast, he could see the ventilation stacks and transmission towers of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The power lines stretched into the distance, eventually meeting up with the cables that ran above Masami’s property, and led all the way down to Tokyo.

The towers were no longer sending electricity to the capital, a problem that TEPCO and the Kan administration were trying to deal with by asking citizens to conserve electricity. In the hours since the prime minister’s visit that morning, the situation in Unit 1 had gotten worse—the reactor was cut off from power, the tsunami had flooded the backup batteries, and now the water level inside the core was low enough to expose the nuclear fuel. Without water, the fuel rods would grow hotter and hotter until they triggered a full meltdown.

In Okuma, Fukushima Daiichi’s superintendent, Masao Yoshida, was in the plant’s emergency response center, just fourteen kilometers from Masami’s ranch—closer to the situation than either the government officials or his corporate bosses. While fission had stopped in each reactor after the quake, the fuel was still incredibly hot. The rods in Unit 1 were melting, the zirconium alloy that coated the uranium reacting with the water to produce dangerous amounts of hydrogen. The fuel needed to be cooled to keep it from decomposing further and dropping into the bottom of the reactor, where it could burn right through the steel core. But the hydrogen pressure in the vessel was so high even fire trucks couldn’t pump water in. Both Naoto Kan and TEPCO had agreed on the need to vent the reactor, and the prime minister had demanded the venting take place when he flew up. But Masao was the one who had to carry out the procedure, and with no electricity the vents had to be opened manually. His workers would have to venture outside in radiation suits, go into the dark, cramped spaces of the buildings, and operate unfamiliar equipment by hand. It was going to take time.

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As he drove, Masami was aware of none of this. The night before, in the hours after the tsunami, Kan’s Cabinet Secretary had said, “There is no radiation leak, nor will there be a leak,” and TEPCO itself had put out a couple of blandly reassuring press releases. But just that morning the evacuation zone had been expanded, and Masami was anxious. If there was a leak what would happen to his cows?

Back at the ranch, as soon as Masami went in the house, a whiff of miso hit him. He found his sister in the kitchen: On a portable gas burner she was simmering a big pot of hoto soup, and he watched as she stirred the steaming broth, thick with udon noodles, leeks, and thin slices of pork.

For the policemen,” she said, looking up at him. “It’s cold out.”

While he could be single-minded to the point of neglect, his sister was expansive in the care she paid to the people around her. Once the food was ready, he helped her carry the meal outside. He took chopsticks, a ladle, and a stack of bowls, and she brought the big pot.

While he could be single-minded to the point of neglect, his sister was expansive in the care she paid to the people around her. Once the food was ready, he helped her carry the meal outside. He took chopsticks, a ladle, and a stack of bowls, and she brought the big pot.

The men were surprised, and the lead officer accepted the pot, thanking Masami and his sister: “Gochisousama desu.”

Later, as the afternoon’s chill deepened, Masami muscled a woodstove of his own making into the bucket of a front-end loader and drove over to where the police vans were. He caught the eye of the officer he’d spoken to before, saying, “You’ll be cold, out here since the morning. You going to be here a couple more days?”

But the policeman said: “Headquarters has just ordered us to withdraw—finally. Sorry, we have to go.”

Shocked, Masami watched the communication officers pack up the generator, the cables and antenna, their desk, and load them back in the vans. The cop whom he’d talked to thanked him again before getting in one of the vehicles. The lights on the roofs of the three vans were flashing red as they crept down the driveway and disappeared.

Occupied with his work, Masami hadn’t heard the explosion—hadn’t felt the ground move as the Unit 1 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi went up in a plume of white smoke. Later, he’d see it on TV. Footage from an NHK camera far from the plant showed the muted blast; the plume seemed like that from a smoke bomb lit next to a model of the building. But when he saw a close-up of the structure—the steel frame still intact but the concrete walls smashed out like the glass from a car window—he understood that whatever had been contained in the core was now in the air all around him.

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At the plant, Superintendent Masao had mistaken the blast for another earthquake. Only when he saw the TV broadcast did he realize there’d been an explosion, though he didn’t understand what had caused it. In the moment, Masao’s staff didn’t stop to debate the reason behind the detonation, and instead everyone turned their attention to the Unit 2 and 3 reactors, where water levels were low. The explosion had damaged the cables his employees had been laying to restore power to Units 1 and 2, and the hoses they’d been preparing to pump seawater into the cores. TEPCO was calling what had happened in Unit 1—what was now going on in Units 2 and 3—“fuel pellet melt,” avoiding the word meltdown, though that’s exactly what it was.

At the Ranch, the cops’ departure had unsettled Masami. Though he’d heard there’d been an explosion he didn’t know what that meant for him, and he decided to see what the farmers at the local dairy collective were thinking. Yoshizawa Ranch had been a dairy for years, and he was familiar with the kumai’s meeting hall, just five minutes up the road. In the meeting room he found a handful of farmers gathered around the television. The power was back on there.

What are we going to do?” one of the men was asking.

Another answered, “Koko mo dame da ne.” This place is done for.

Without power the dairymen couldn’t milk their heifers. If nothing changed their cows would dry up. Those who were making do with gas generators still faced customers afraid to buy milk from the area. They might as well toss their production.

Masami listened to the farmers and took the opportunity to charge his cell phone. Then, a few minutes before 6:30, Naoto Kan appeared on the broadcast. As the prime minister walked to a podium a map of the tsunami damage flashed red, yellow, and green in the corner of the TV. He wore a blue jumpsuit instead of his standard suit and tie and spoke slowly as, off-screen, camera shutters clicked like cicadas:

. . . We are putting the safety of local people first and taking the appropriate precautions. With regards to the Unit 1 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi, I’ve been listening to the latest update from my cabinet secretary and, because of present circumstances, following the evacuation of residents within ten kilometers of the plant, I am now ordering the evacuation of residents within twenty kilometers of Fukushima Daiichi.”

The extended zone fell over his ranch—his cattle, his land, the house. All of it lay within the red semi-circle being drawn on maps of Japan the world over. It was worse than he’d ever imagined. Yet, even as he heard the words Masami knew he wouldn’t flee. He would stay. He would outlast this.

March 14

The thought of his cows’ empty stomachs was what got Masami moving in the small hours. Even when his body was stiff it got him out of bed. With the woodstove it was warm in the house, though it’d been days since he’d had a hot shower.

The day before, he’d gone to see Murata-san at the M Ranch Company’s main office in Nihonmatsu. Masami had no plans to leave, but the cattle didn’t belong to him alone, and they needed to talk over what was to be done with the herd.

There weren’t a lot of options. They could try to ship the beef cows to one of M Ranch’s customers, and Jun could distribute the younger heifers among his ranches outside the evacuation zone. But the mature cattle hadn’t been slated for sale for a few months and were still lean from the winter. Moving them was a big operation, and that was if they could find anyone willing to buy cows from the evacuated area in the first place. Murata was dealing with these decisions in several iterations: Out of the seven ranches in his company, four were within twenty kilometers of the plant; of the M Ranch’s 1,200 or so cows, more than a third were on these properties. With each animal liable to ask $13,000 at market, he had roughly $6.5 million of stock at risk.

Sono uchi nan toka ni naru,” Murata had said. Something will happen before long.

On Monday, in the early light, Masami started up the generator that powered the well pump and was relieved to find none of the pipes had frozen. A cold front had moved in overnight, and it felt like it might snow.

At the emergency response center at Fukushima Daiichi, Superintendent Yoshida was also feeling worn. His workers were strung out from sleeping in hallways and conference rooms with a single blanket each, wearing the same clothes for days, rationing water, and eating two meals a day—crackers and boxes of vegetable juice in the morning, rice and curry or canned food at night. In the smoking room, Masao passed out cigarettes to support his team.

After the explosion of Unit 1, their attention had turned to reactors 2 and 3. Though they’d hooked a fire engine to Unit 3 and were pumping seawater into the core, the instruments in the control room didn’t show the water level rising. The day before they’d vented the containment three times, and they tried again that morning, but the pressure kept climbing. On top of this, while reactor 4 had been offline for maintenance when the tsunami hit, the temperature was now rising in its spent fuel pool, a tank that stored used uranium rods as they cooled. The fuel under the water in the Unit 4 building had been removed from the reactor months before, but it was still incredibly hot. If the water boiled off the fuel would be exposed. Masao needed to find a way to get water into that pool.

At 11:00 a.m., on the ranch, Masami was in his cowshed finishing the morning feed. The scrape of a shovel on concrete, the cows chewing hay, the slurp of their long, gray tongues on the salt blocks—and then all sound shattered by a clap of thunder, like a firework detonating above the barn.

He knew where the sound had come from and hustled over to the house. A pillar of smoke was rising from the plant. His phone buzzed in his pocket. When he answered it was Murata-san.

There was just an explosion.”

I know. I heard it,” Masami said. “Dou shiyou?” What are we going to do?

But there was no answer for his question. He almost thought he could feel the radiation washing over him, and, of course, his cattle were being bathed in the same particles.

At the plant, Masao Yoshida was scrambling—he didn’t even understand what’d happened. The Self-Defense Forces’ Nuclear Biological Chemical Weapon Unit had just arrived in three vehicles when the blast ripped through the plant—gray dust surrounded the soldiers like a fog as they tried to gain their bearings, chunks of concrete came in showers, and four of the men retreated, limping and clutching their injuries. The fire engine Masao’s team had been using to pump seawater into the reactor was damaged and several TEPCO employees were hurt. The Unit 3 building was a smashed, smoking, skeletal ruin. Unlike Unit 1, the upper half of the structure had collapsed in. The blast had been felt as far as forty kilometers away.

At his ranch, Masami watched the rounded blast cloud floating up, the gray smoke trailing beneath, the plume moving across the sky like an enormous jellyfish—seemingly slow, and yet fast for something of its size. He began to realize that this wouldn’t be a temporary evacuation. There were no stopgap measures that could save his herd. The hope that had held his world together faded with the same sickening speed as the haze of the explosion.

March 17

There was no food left in the house. He had used up his diesel running the generator and without fuel he couldn’t pump water for his cows. The gas stations nearby were all closed. Following discussions two days before, his sister had fled, while Masami stayed behind. This was his home after all. Now, he was truly alone.

He’d returned to the ranch a day ago. After entering Namie he ran into a police checkpoint on highway 114, the road back to his ranch. The police had blocked the inbound lane with a blue van, and an electronic message on the roof read, Entry Prohibited. The cops were waving cars through the outbound lane, but when he pulled up the officers motioned him to a stop with their orange-and-white traffic batons.

He rolled down his window as a man in a blue uniform and white helmet came around the front. The cop was young and polite, and after Masami explained that his property lay a few kilometers down the road, the boy calmly said, “I see you’re trying to get through, but I’m stopping you. I know the lives of your cattle are important, but men’s lives are important too.”

I’ll take responsibility for myself,” Masami said. “If I leave them they’ll die.”

After a moment’s hesitation the police waved him through.

He eased the truck back into gear and rolled into Tsushima. Passing through the district he saw Self-Defense Force tents and clutches of refugees huddled around fires. It was like the scene behind the frontlines of a war.

He saw cars turning in to the middle school, and he could imagine the overflowing parking lot, the crowded gym, the rectangles of cardboard on the basketball court heaped with winter blankets, shoes in the aisles. On TV, he’d seen the miserable evacuees, who had nothing but what they’d been able to grab from their homes as they fled, and now could only count on a bowl of rice from the authorities each morning. The temperatures were still dipping down near freezing at night, and the walls in those old schools buildings were thin. Shizue had been against evacuating to Tsushima. She’d kept saying she didn’t want to go to one of those gyms. “I just don’t want wind up in a taikukan.”

After arriving at the ranch he’d fed and watered the herd. He kept hearing explosions echoing out of the plant. There were reports that TEPCO might pull its people out, and the Kan administration was getting more involved by the hour. On top of all this, earlier in the day Murata had called with bad news.

Torihiki ha kotowareta.” The customer they’d hoped to send the cattle to had refused to take the delivery. “It’s all over now.”

That’s it then.”

Later that day, from the second floor of the house, he watched the twin-rotor helicopters circling the plant through an old pair of binoculars he had once used to look at the stars and track satellites across the sky. Standing on the balcony, he saw them bailing water from the ocean in enormous buckets, and dumping it over the reactor buildings. They were trying to replenish the spent fuel pool in Unit 4, but the wind caught most of the water, turning it into curtains of mist that blew away from the building.

In their dedication, the Self-Defense Forces reminded Masami of the kamikaze pilots who’d sacrificed themselves for the country during the War. The TEPCO engineers might abandon their posts, but the Self-Defense Forces wouldn’t flee. They would all die there. He was sure of it.

Still, no matter what the troops did they couldn’t save his animals, and even if he kept his cows alive no one would buy them. It had been nearly a week since the disaster had started, though he had no idea what he or his cattle had been exposed to. The government had a system called SPEEDI that assessed the spread of radioactive releases, but the system relied on the plant’s measuring equipment, which was still offline. If SPEEDI couldn’t predict how much radiation was being released then it could at least calculate what direction the plume was moving. But claiming that the partial reports would only cause confusion, the government hadn’t released them, and so the evacuees from Namie who’d gone to Tsushima didn’t know they were fleeing into the worst of the radiation. Like Masami, they could only guess at the winds and the ions in the air. The land he’d fought for, had toiled so hard make a profit on, was now just eighty acres of the disaster zone.

There was nothing left for him there.

That afternoon, for the first time, it dawned on him that he would leave. He might never see the ranch again. He decided he would go to TEPCO’s head office. He’d seen it on TV: a boxy, gray building in downtown Tokyo with an enormous, orange antenna jutting out of it. He’d take the speaker car and find someone, make them listen.

There wasn’t enough gas in the van’s tank, so he went around the ranch siphoning fuel from the other vehicles into a washbasin and funneled it into the Honda. Before he left, he took the spray paint he’d bought on the day of the earthquake and, in giant letters, big enough for the Self-Defense Forces to see from the air, on the waste silo and the bucket of his biggest tractor he wrote, kesshi kyumei, danketu! Unite, save lives or die trying!

When he arrived in Tokyo, making himself heard would prove harder than he had expected. He would spend days sleeping in his car, denouncing the authorities, causing a disturbance in front of TEPCO’s headquarters until the police came to restrain him. When a representative from the company did finally agree to speak to him, his story would bring the man to tears, but it wouldn’t change anything. Not really.

In the coming years, as he became more and more involved in the anti-nuclear movement—hauling his radiated cows down to Tokyo or to prefectural capitals, demanding compensation and that his animals be studied, giving speeches and leading marches of leftists, continuing to live on the ranch even when the government barricaded the roads and caught him coming or going and tried to make him promise not to return, watching his neighbors’ animals starve to death until their hides and bones were scattered across the land like deflated balloons—he would hold the memory of the days after the quake to himself, a precious energy that perpetually burned inside him.

But as he flew down the Tohoku Expressway his future was still uncertain. He knew nothing of what was to come. He drove toward Tokyo and his heart beat like the flashing light of the countless police cars and fire trucks that passed him, heading the other direction.

https://catapult.co/stories/the-rancher-who-refused-to-leave-a-fukushima-story

 

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Global warming is already affecting countries: some are becoming severely affected

From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine: seven climate change hotspots
Global warming will not affect everyone equally. Here we look at seven key regions to see how each is tackling the consequences of climate change,
Guardian, John Vidal, 23 June 17, It could have been the edge of the Sahara or even Death Valley, but it was the remains of a large orchard in the hills above the city of Murcia in southern Spain last year. The soil had broken down into fine white, lifeless sand, and a landscape of rock and dying orange and lemon trees stretched into the distance.

A long drought, the second in a few years, had devastated the harvest after city authorities had restricted water supplies and farmers were protesting in the street. It was a foretaste of what may happen if temperatures in the Mediterranean basin continue to rise and desertification grows.

All round the world, farmers, city authorities and scientists have observed changing patterns of rainfall, temperature rises and floods. Fifteen of the 16 hottest years have been recorded since 2000. Carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions steadily climb. Oceans are warming and glaciers, ice caps and sea ice are melting faster than expected. Meanwhile, heat and rainfall records tumble.

The evidence for the onset of climate change is compelling. But who and where is it hitting the hardest? How fast will it come to Africa, or the US? What will be its impact on tropical cities, forests or farming? On the poor, or the old? When it comes to details, much is uncertain.

Mapping the world’s climate hotspots and identifying where the impacts will be the greatest is increasingly important for governments, advocacy groups and others who need to prioritise resources, set goals and adapt to a warming world.

But lack of data and different priorities make it hard. Should scientists pinpoint the places most likely to see faster than average warming or wetter winters, or should they combine expected physical changes with countries’ vulnerability? Some hot-spot models use population data. Others seek to portray the impacts of a warming world on water resources or megacities. Global bodies want to know how climate might exacerbate natural hazards like floods and droughts. Economists want to know its impacts on resources. Charities want to know how it will affect women or the poorest.

What follows is a subjective appraisal of the seven most important climate hotspots, based on analysis of numerous scientific models and personal experience of observing climate change in a variety of places. Delta regions, semi-arid countries, and glacier- and snowpack-dependent river basins are all in the frontline. But so, too, are tropical coastal regions and some of the world’s greatest forests and cities.

Murcia, Spain………   Dhaka, Bangladesh……   Mphampha, Malawi…..Longyearbyen, Norway…..   Manaus, Brazil…..  New York, US….  Manila, Philippines…..

The bottom line

Whether it’s faster than average warming, more vulnerable than average populations, or more severe than average drought, floods and storms, it’s clear that some places are being hit harder than others by Earth’s altered climate, and so face extra urgency when it comes to adapting to a new reality.

But the bottom line is that climate hotspots intersect, and nowhere will we escape the changes taking place. What happens in the Amazon affects West Africa; the North American growing season may depend on the melting of Arctic ice; flooding in Asian cities affected by warming on the high Tibetan plateau. And urban areas ultimately depend on the countryside.

We’re all in a hot spot now.   This article was originally published by Ensia  https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/23/from-heatwaves-to-hurricanes-floods-to-famine-seven-climate-change-hotspots?CMP=share_btn_tw

June 24, 2017 Posted by | climate change, 2 WORLD | Leave a comment

UN Human Rights Council on protection of human rights from the impacts of climate change: even USA is supportive

US joins UN resolution to protect human rights from climate change http://www.climatechangenews.com/2017/06/23/us-joins-global-resolution-protect-human-rights-climate-change/   

The US said climate change had “a range of implications for the effective enjoyment of human rights”, in a departure from recent diplomacy and Trump’s rhetoric By Sébastien Duyck

The UN Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution that calls for the protection of human rights from the impacts of climate change, with the support of the US.

Two weeks of discussions began with much uncertainty regarding the role that the US would play after the decision by the US president Donald Trump to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

After intensive but constructive negotiations over the wording, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Vietnam proposed a resolution for adoption by all members of the Council on Thursday.

Addressing the Council as governments were about to consider the adoption of the text, US representative Jason Mack cleared any doubts about the US position on this resolution.

“As we said previously on this topic, the effects of climate change have a range of implications for the effective enjoyment of human rights. On this basis we join consensus,” said Mack.2

The recognition by the US of the importance of continuing work on this issue contrasted with Trump’s speech three weeks ago, which framed the Paris Agreement as an injustice against the US economy.

The US has stood aside in recent international discussions of climate change. Trump’s refusal to offer support to the Paris agreement lead to a split at the recent G7 summit in Italy.

However Mack did raise concerns about references to the Paris deal in the Council resolution. In one of the few contentious parts of the negotiations, the US said the Human Rights Council should not interfere with the formal UN climate negotiations, a risk the US saw as encouraged in the eventual resolution.

Nor would the US brook any language that compelled countries to take steps inside the Paris accord or out.

“Any calls for climate action in this resolution can only affirm actions that countries choose to take,” said Mack.

On the other hand, German ambassador Antje Leendertse, speaking on behalf of the EU, stressed the importance of including considering human rights principles with​in the climate talks.​

Introducing the text, Duong Chi Dung, permanent representative of Vietnam to the UN in Geneva, said the issue required “a comprehensive approach to the issue of climate change bearing in mind intertwined connection with human rights, including social and economic rights”.

The resolution focused on two specific issues. Firstly, that children are among the groups most vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.1 It insisted on the recognition of existing obligations under international law for governments and businesses to protect the rights and best interests of children when taking climate action.

At an event parallel to the negotiations, Marilena Viviani, director of UNICEF’s Geneva office, said “500 million children live in flood-prone areas, 160 million are exposed to severe drought, and 115 million are at high risk of tropical cyclones”.

Governments also addressed the specific challenges related to the protection of the rights of climate-induced migrants.

“With the ever increasing adverse impacts of climate change, these groups of vulnerable people are being even more vulnerable and marginalised” said Bangladeshi representative Robiul Islam. The council mandated the UN to examine challenges and opportunities for human rights protection in the context of climate-related migration.

The recognition by governments of the interlinkages between climate change and human rights required many years of debates and negotiations under the auspices of the UN bodies working on each of these issues.

“The global consensus on this resolution – including on issues that often lead to heated political discussions in other UN fora – indicates that the importance of addressing these linkages is now better recognised by governments” said Yves Lador, representative of EarthJustice to the UN in Geneva who followed these conversations since their inception.

Sébastien Duyck is a senior attorney at the Centre for International Environmental Law.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

USA Appeals Court rules that sailors affected by Fukushima radiation can sue Japanese govt and Tokyo Electric Power Co

US sailors who ‘fell sick from Fukushima radiation’ allowed to sue Japan, nuclear plant operator http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/06/23/us-sailors-fell-sick-fukushima-radiation-allowed-sue-japan-nuclear/ in Tokyo 23 JUNE 2017 
A US appeals court has ruled that hundreds of American navy personnel can pursue a compensation suit against the government of Japan and Tokyo Electric Power Co. for illnesses allegedly caused by exposure to radioactivity in the aftermath of the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled on Thursday that the 318 sailors who have so far joined the $1 billion (£787 million) class action lawsuit do not need to file their case in Japan.

Most of the plaintiffs were aboard the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier that was dispatched to waters off north-east Japan after the March 2011 meltdown at the Fukushima plant. Three reactors suffered catastrophic meltdowns and released large amounts of radiation into the atmosphere after their cooling units were destroyed by a magnitude-9 earthquake and a series of tsunami.

The plaintiffs claim that they were healthy and physically fit before they were exposed to the radiation plume, with some personnel reporting the air on the flight deck tasting “metallic”.

The California-based law firm representing the plaintiffs say they have been affected by a range of complaints, ranging from leukaemia to ulcers, brain cancer, brain tumours, testicular cancer, thyroid illnesses and stomach complaints.

 The suit claims that TEPCO is financially responsible for the sailors’ medial treatment because it failed to accurately inform the Japanese government of the scale of the problem.

The Japanese government, the suit alleges, also failed to inform the US that radiation leaking from the plant posed a threat to the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan and other US assets dispatched to assist in “Operation Tomodachi”, meaning “friend” in Japanese.

The case was originally filed in San Diego in 2012, but has been delayed over the question of where it should be heard. The US government has also vehemently denied that any personnel were exposed to levels of radiation that would have had an impact on their health during the Fukushima recovery mission.

Interviewed for the San Diego City Beat newspaper in February, William Zeller said: “Right now, I know I have problems but I’m afraid of actually finding out how bad they really are.”

Formerly a martial arts instructor, he now uses a breathing machine when he goes to sleep due to respiratory problems he blames on his exposure aboard the USS Ronald Reagan in 2011.
“I literally just go to work and go home now”, he said. “I don’t have the energy or pain threshold to deal with anything else”.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Ever increasing piles of toxic Russian radioactive trash – a challenge for Norway and Russia to clean up

some of the biggest dangers still lie ahead, and many of them come back to that small green train of so many years ago. An updated and safer versions of it will be hauling Andreyeva Bay’s waste south from Murmansk, but that shouldn’t belie the fact that transporting spent nuclear fuel over such distances is always dangerous.

More dangerous still is the location where the spent fuel will end up, which is one of the most radioactively contaminated spots in the world.

Decades of piled up nuclear fuel bids farewell to Andreyeva Bay http://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2017-06-decades-of-piled-up-nuclear-fuel-bids-farewell-to-andreyeva-bay  Two decades ago, a green four-car train would make the rounds every few months to Russia’s snowy Kola Peninsula to cart nuclear fuel and radioactive waste more than 3000 kilometers south from the Arctic to the Ural Mountains. June 23, 2017 by Charles Digges  charles@bellona.no

Two decades ago, a green four-car train would make the rounds every few months to Russia’s snowy Kola Peninsula to cart nuclear fuel and radioactive waste more than 3000 kilometers south from the Arctic to the Ural Mountains.

At the time, the lonely rail artery was the center of a logistical and financial bottleneck that made Northwest Russia, home of the once feared Soviet nuclear fleet, a toxic dumping ground shrouded in military secrecy.

More than a hundred rusted out submarines bobbed in the icy waters at dockside, their reactors still loaded with nuclear fuel, threating to sink or worse. Further from shore and under the waves laid other submarines and nuclear waste intentionally scuttled by the navy. Still more radioactive spent fuel was piling up in storage tanks and open-air bins, on military bases and in shipyards.

One of those places was Andreyeva Bay, a run down nuclear submarine maintenance yard just 55 kilometers from the Norwegian border. Since the birth of the nuclear navy in the 1960s, the yard came to be a dumping ground for 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies offloaded from hundreds of submarines. Cracks in storage pools made worse by the hard Arctic freeze threatened to contaminate the Barents Sea. At one point, experts even feared the radioactive morgue might spark an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction.

Infrastructure, technology and the Kremlin were failing to keep up with the mushrooming catastrophe. The nuclear fuel train could only bear away 588 fuel assemblies at a time three or four times a year – little more than the contents of one nuclear submarine per trip. Even if the train ran on schedule, removing broken or deformed nuclear fuel elements at Andreyeva Bay was still seen as impossible.

Yet even mentioning the environmental and security storm clouds was taboo: While the Navy begged the public to donate potatoes to feed sailors it was too broke to pay, the Kremlin prosecuted environmentalists who drew attention to the mounting desperation as spies.

In the bleak and politically chaotic late 1990s, many experts, like Bellona’s Andrei Zolotkov, thought that the carcinogenic remains of the Cold War would lie neglected at Andreyeva Bay for decades – or at least until Russia somehow woke up wealthy enough to deal with them.

Now, Russia is only slightly better off, yet the first containers of spent nuclear at Andreyeva Bay will begin to be bourn away by sea on June 27, marking the culmination of a multi-million dollar international effort sparked by Bellona in 1995.

The first container was packed last month. It and the 2999 that will follow will leave Andreyeva Bay on specially outfitted ships like the Rossita – itself a bit of expertise donated by Italy under the Northern Dimensions Environmental Partnership, an enormous Russian nuclear cleanup fund managed by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

The transport ships will join a railhead at Atomflot, Murmansk’s nuclear icebreaker port, and from there, the fuel containers will go by train to the Mayak Chemical Combine, near the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, for reprocessing.

It’s a mammoth effort. A total of about 40 ship-to-train transports will have to be made before the bulk of the fuel is cleared out over the coming five years. But when it’s done, one of the most deviling radiation threats in the Arctic will be history.

Bring the waste out of the shadows

“The Andreyeva Bay project has shown that international projects aimed at liquidating nuclear and radioactive threats can be successful,” said Alexander Nikitin, the Bellona expert who was charged with espionage and later acquitted for bringing to light the embarrassing truth of Russia’s northern nuclear fleet more than 20 years ago. “This is proof that such projects must continue.”

The success hasn’t necessarily loosened the grip of the Soviet-era mindset. Russian nuclear officials have so far denied Norwegian television cameras access to film the first nuclear waste departure from Andreyeva Bay, an event that will be attended by the country’s foreign minster, Børge Brende, Russian officials and Bellona staff.

It also hasn’t eased Kremlin paranoia toward Bellona and its efforts to spur international attention and bring foreign funding to bear on Cold War nuclear relics. Zolotkov’s Bellona Murmansk, which helped dislodge Andreyeva Bay’s troubles from the shadows, was targeted by Russia’s foreign agent law in 2015 and closed down. The Environmental Rights Center Bellona, headed by Nikitin, followed this year.

But Zolotkov said the progress transcends politics.

“Even in complex political circumstances, international cooperation in nuclear and radiation safety in Russia’s North continues,” he said.

Cracks and contamination

Andreyeva Bay had been piling up spent nuclear submarine fuel for more than two decades when its troubles began in earnest in 1982. That year, a crack developed in its now-notorious Building 5, a storage pool for thousands of spent fuel assemblies. The ensuing leak threatened to dump a stew of plutonium, uranium and other fission products into Litsa Fjord, fouling the Barents Sea.

The water was drained and the fuel painstakingly moved, but that revealed other problems. The fuel elements from Building 5 needed somewhere to go, so they were rushed into hastily arranged storage facilities that were supposed to be only temporary. Technicians stuffed the fuel elements into three dry storage buildings and cemented them in. The temporary storage solution has now spanned the last 30 years. Meanwhile the leaking radioactive water contaminated much of the soil around Building 5.

It took the government years to catch up to the problem. In 1995, the Murmansk regional government paid it first visit to the secretive military site and, based on what it saw, shut down its operations. Five years later Moscow finally got involved, taking Andreyeva Bay out of the military’s hands and giving it to the mainly civilian Ministry of Atomic Energy, now Rosatom.

Rosatom helped coalesce a nuclear waste-handling agency in Murmansk, called SevRAO, to deal with the problem. Yet even in 2000, SevRAO was essentially working from scratch. Anatoly Grigoriev, a Rosatom nuclear safety official said last year that there weren’t even documents detailing what waste and fuel was stored where, much less an infrastructure to help safely get rid of it.

Bellona leads the charge

Norway, at Bellona’s urging, led the charge to pitch in.

Finally, in 2001, an enclosure was built over the three storage buildings to prevent further contamination while technicians worked to remove the spent fuel and load it into cases. Roads were built and cranes were brought in. Personnel decontamination posts went up, along with a laboratory complex and power lines.

A host of nations pumped funding into the burgeoning city whose central industry was safely packing up decades of nuclear fuel from Russia’s past nuclear soldiers. Starting in 2003, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Great Britain, joined by Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and the European Commission pooled resources for a total contribution of $70 million over several years.

But Norway has led the pack by far, contributing some $230 million over the past 20 years toward safely removing Andreyeva Bay’s spend nuclear fuel – a national movement spawned when Bellona published its first report on Northwest Russia’s nuclear hazards in 1996.

“For Bellona, this event is a very important development,” said Zolotkov. “Bellona was the first group to speak openly about the problems of Andreyeva Bay, and Bellona stepped forward with a report on the developing situation.”

Nikitin agreed. “This is very important for the outlook of our work in Russia because all now see that we are capable of achieving a result, and not simply criticizing and protesting.”

In many ways, however, some of the biggest dangers still lie ahead, and many of them come back to that small green train of so many years ago. An updated and safer versions of it will be hauling Andreyeva Bay’s waste south from Murmansk, but that shouldn’t belie the fact that transporting spent nuclear fuel over such distances is always dangerous.

New dangers to bring to light

More dangerous still is the location where the spent fuel will end up, which is one of the most radioactively contaminated spots in the world.

The Mayak Chemical Combine, the birthplace of the first Soviet atomic Bomb, is the one facility in Russia capable of reprocessing spent fuel from submarines. It also gave the country its first nuclear disaster. In 1957, a tank holding nuclear waste exploded, sending a cloud of radioactivity from Chelyabinsk to Yekaterinburg and forced the evacuation of 17,000 people. Called the Kyshtym Disaster, the accident came to be regarded as Chernobyl’s more secretive older brother.

Since Mayak ramped up fuel reprocessing at its RT-1 facility in 1977, contamination has only intensified. Radioactive byproducts arising from the chemical separation of plutonium and uranium have been dumped into local rivers and lakes. Cancer rates among the local population continue to rise. The government has partially acknowledged the issue and has made stutter-step attempts to move a number of small villages away from the radioactively polluted Techa River. In the end though, those efforts only displaced villagers from one contaminated spot to another, solving nothing.

Some activists have noted that moving Andreyeva Bay’s legacy of Cold War reactor fuel 3,000 kilometers south to Mayak is a similar exercise in displacement.

Nadezhda Kutepova, a long time advocate for those afflicted by Mayak’s pollution, who was run out of the country on manufactured espionage suspicions, said Norway’s contribution to moving Andreyeva Bay’s fuel was a waste of money.

She and others recently told the Independent Barents Observer they thought the Norwegian government would be lessening the woes of one radioactively contaminated area in the country at the expense of another.

While Niktin acknowledged that Mayak was far from ideal, he noted that it was the only place in Russia that had the technology to handle the Andreyeva fuel.

But he said that shipping the fuel to Mayak also ratchets up Bellona’s responsibility for bringing to light yet newer stages of dealing with Russia’s radioactive legacy.

“The task of the public, and Bellona with it, is to ensure that Mayak doesn’t use any dirty technologies that end up throwing radioactive waste into the environment,” he said. “We must also step up to liquidate the injuries that have already happened to the environment as a result of Mayak’s work and the accident.”

In other words, if Andreyeva Bay is a measure of Bellona’s success, Mayak could repeat that history.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Reference, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

There are “positive signals” on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue – China

China hails “positive signals” on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-06/23/c_136389835.htm Editor: Mengjie BEIJING, June 23 (Xinhua) — China on Friday hailed recent “positive signals” on the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and called for addressing concerns of various parties in a balanced way.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the comments in response to a question regarding remarks by a number of diplomats concerned about the issue.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) ambassador to India Kye Chun Yong said Wednesday the DPRK would not rule out suspending nuclear and missile tests if the United States abandoned the practice of holding large-scale military drills, according to media reports. The ambassador said Pyongyang was ready for negotiations with the United States at any time and without preconditions.

Meanwhile, a special advisor to President Moon Jae-in of the Republic of Korea (ROK) indicated a reduction of joint war games with the United States if the DPRK stopped nuclear and missile activities.

“China believes these positive messages are important for easing tension on the peninsula and for a solution to the issue through dialogue,” Geng said. Geng said the root of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue was in security. He said the solution required comprehensive measures and addressing both the symptoms and root causes.

China proposed a “dual-track approach” to denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, establishing a peace mechanism in parallel, and a “suspension for suspension” to defuse the looming crisis.

As a first step, Pyongyang may suspend its nuclear and missile activities in exchange for the suspension of large-scale Washington-Seoul military exercises.

China has also called for strengthening efforts on non-proliferation and promotion of peace talks to bring the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula to a peaceful settlement.

“We are glad to see China’s proposals have gained increasing support and responses,” Geng said.

China welcomes and encourages suggestions to help alleviate tension and confrontation, enhance communication and trust, and restart dialogue as soon as possible, Geng said.

He called for the international community to seize all possible opportunities, to promote the settlement of the issue through dialogue and consultations.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Students and researchers at research reactors should have background checks, warns Japan’s nuclear regulator

NRA urging background checks on students using Japan’s research reactors, Japan Times, 23 June 17 KYODO Japan’s nuclear regulator has urged universities to conduct background checks on students and researchers working at research reactors, as a step to ensure the proper handling of nuclear materials and prevent terrorism, a source said Thursday.

The check items include mental disorder and criminal records and those who have access to strictly controlled nuclear material storage areas at research reactors owned by universities will be subject to the new rule.

But the decision will likely raise concerns about privacy and human rights, legal experts say. University officials are concerned that the inquiries could also discourage students from becoming researchers in the nuclear industry.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority’s request comes after the International Atomic Energy Agency recommended the Japanese government conduct background checks on workers at nuclear power plants and those involved in decommissioning work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Based on the recommendation, the nuclear safety watchdog decided last year to conduct background checks on workers at nuclear plants. Plant operators plan to start the checks as early as this fall.

A total of 17 check items also include students’ and researchers’ names, nationalities, employment history and addiction to alcohol, the source said……..http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/23/national/nra-urging-background-checks-students-using-japans-research-reactors/#.WU14LpKGPGg

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Nuclear deal with Russia is central to the corruption in South Africa

There’s more to state capture than meets the eye, News24, Sipho Pityana, 23 June 17, The leadership crisis and the ravaging uncertainty that South Africa is going through now affect all of us.

I say this because the ethical failures committed by Zuma are not confined to the president’s office. They are cascading down, like a disease, into every aspect of South African life. They are killing our country, and killing us with it. Every extra day Zuma remains in power, this erosion continues and our crisis deepens.

Zuma’s strategy is simple: keep the ANC firmly captured by stealing the leadership elections at the party’s elective conference in December, and install his protégé. His successor as president of the ANC – and, subsequently, the country – would make sure that he not only stays out of jail, but also that the state capture project continues unabated…….

 I believe it is true that the fish rots from the head. The problem we face, as South Africans, is that the rot is so advanced that it’s already approaching the tail. And unless we act soon, this beautiful creature that we call South Africa will soon be a rotten pile of bones…..
The state capture project, with Zuma at its epicenter, is effectively an international crime syndicate. It is a global mafia operation involving business and sometimes state interests in China, Russia, Asia, the Middle East and several African countries……..

Finally, there is Russia. The Russians have a very, very keen interest in the nuclear energy deals that the president allegedly signed irregularly on our behalf, which our courts have now stalled. There are billions of rands at stake. We have already seen indications that a deal is in the making, and there are consistent allegations that the captains of state capture, Zuma and the Guptas, have already received – or at least stand to get – massive kickbacks from any Russian nuclear energy deal.Given the scale of the deals (estimated at about R1.8 trillion), even a small kickback is going to run into hundreds of millions. And, as we’ve seen from the various reports on state capture – from the SACC, the Public Affairs Research Institute and the former Public Protector herself – the kickbacks are never small.

So if you join the dots: in effect, and based merely on the uncontested evidence we have at hand, we have a president and his cronies who stand at the centre of a global crime network that involves China, Russia, Asia, the Middle East and certain parts of Africa.

…….you have a South African president with an even more broken ethical compass than Trump? A president who is prepared to let business interests take precedence over the national interest? A president who is prepared to sell his own country to the highest bidder?……….

 – Pityana is the convenor of the Save South Africa campaign. This is an edited version of a speech on ethics he delivered at the annual meeting of the Marketing Code Authority in Johannesburg on 22 June…….http://www.news24.com/Columnists/GuestColumn/theres-more-to-state-capture-than-meets-the-eye-20170623

June 24, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

R1 trillion nuclear power project still happening, says South African President Jacob Zuma

Zuma: The Nuclear Deal Is Still Happening, Folks He says nuclear power stations will eventually bring the country profits once they are built. Huff Post, Amil Umraw, Politics Reporter  23/06/2017 South Africa’s controversial nuclear build programme is still very much on the cards.

In his responses to parliamentary questions on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma said government still intends to pursue the acquisition of nuclear power stations at a “pace and scale” that the country can afford…..

He denied that the deal is going to push the agenda of any country, especially Russia.

However, Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi reportedly told a delegation at a nuclear conference in Moscow on Wednesday that the deal would be awarded to the “most experienced people who have a track record”.

Kubayi reportedly met Russian Energy minister Alexander Novak and Rosatom head Alexei Likhachev during her visit. Rosatom is a Russian state company believed to be the strongest contender for the award of the nuclear contract.

The nuclear build programme was dealt a blow by the Cape Town High Court after Earthlife Africa and the Southern Africa Faith-Communities’ Environmental Institute successfully challenged the way in which the state determined the country’s nuclear power needs. The plan would have seen South Africa purchasing 9 600 megawatts of extra nuclear power.

The programme is expected to cost the country around R1 trillion.http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/2017/06/22/zuma-the-nuclear-deal-is-still-happening-folks_a_22580816/

June 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Thousands of American veterans made ill by Fukushima radiation represented in court by former Senator John Edwards

Former Senator John Edwards Representing Thousands of United States Veterans Injured in Nuclear Disaster http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170622006227/en/Senator-John-Edwards-Representing-Thousands-United-States   Ninth Circuit Rules Sailors Will Get Their Day in U.S. Court, June 22, 2017  RALEIGH, N.C.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Today, the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the U.S. sailors who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation assisting in humanitarian relief efforts to Japan following an earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Based on the ruling, the sailors are able to continue their suit against Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) allowing the sailors to pursue their case in the District Court in San Diego. It is possible that the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima plant affected up to 75,000 U.S. citizens, even after TEPCO deemed the conditions safe.

After meeting with attorneys from both sides last December, the United States Government submitted an amicus curiae brief expressing its belief that nothing should prevent the sailors from litigating their case here in America. Today’s Court of Appeals ruling reinforces the government’s desire that the sailors’ fight for justice will take place in the United States and not Japan as TEPCO and the Government of Japan had previously requested.

“These members of the United States Navy deserve their day in court, and they will get it,” said former Senator Edwards. “These American heroes served the United States and were innocent victims in a nuclear disaster that never should have happened. This case has broad U.S. interests, both because of our nation’s long-standing relationship with Japan, and because plaintiffs in this case are members of the U.S. military harmed while on a humanitarian mission.”

As recently as this week, three former executives from TEPCO were charged criminally in Japan with contributing to deaths and injuries stemming from the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. In addition, the Japanese government investigated the nuclear disaster and found that TEPCO was grossly negligent.

In 2011, U.S. sailors aboard the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ronald Reagan were poisoned by radiation during Operation Tomodachi (“friend”). The humanitarian mission was in response to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake which triggered a tsunami in Japan that led to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Relief efforts included delivering food, supplies and clothing to the people ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami.

The plaintiffs, led by Lindsay R. Cooper and other members of the U.S. Navy and their dependents, have suffered and continue to be diagnosed with extensive injuries including blindness, thyroid cancer, leukemia and brain tumors. The lawsuit is not only against TEPCO, but several other co-defendants, including General Electric, EBASCO, Toshiba Corp. and Hitachi.

Former Senator Edwards, his daughter Cate Edwards and California-based attorneys Charles Bonner, Cabral Bonner and Paul Garner are continuing to expand their suit against TEPCO. If you are a U.S. Sailor affected by this, you can reach attorneys working on this litigation at 844.283.9434 or http://fukushima.edwardskirby.com/

June 24, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment