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Thyroid Cancer Plagues Fukushima Evacuees, But Officials Deny Radiation to Blame


Seven more young Fukushima Prefecture residents have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, according to a prefectural government statement on Monday. All of the patients were 18 or younger at the time of the 2011 nuclear reactor meltdown.

This bumps the number of Fukushima residents diagnosed with thyroid cancer up to 152. Although many times higher than the national average, the thyroid cancer rates are “unlikely” to have been increased by the reactor accident, according to vice chair of Fukushima’s medical association Hokuto Hoshi. 

“Those thyroid cases have been found because we conducted the survey, not because of the radiation,” concurred Akira Ohtsuru, a radiologist who examined many of the patients. “The survey has caused over-diagnosis.”

One of those suspected of having cancer is a 4-year-old boy who hadn’t even been conceived yet when his parents fled Fukushima.

The prefectural government has been conducting thyroid checkups on evacuees every year since 2013.  The number of cases continuously rises every time they do so: five additional cases in 2014 and two additional ones in May 2015. This means more and more evacuees are metastasizing the illness.

Fukushima University researchers have also found that evacuees have markedly higher rates of diabetes, liver and heart disease and obesity than the national average.

A May 2017 study from the Norwegian Institute for Air Research found that the Fukushima nuclear disaster had spread additional radiation across the entire planet, with the same amount of radiation as a single x-ray hitting the average person. 

That same month, Penn State Medical Center published a study linking the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster of 1979 to higher rates of thyroid cancer near the Pennsylvania reactor.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | 2 Comments

Fukushima Remains “A Nuclear Radiation Nightmare”, In Pictures

“This is an accident that does not exist in the past tense, but in the present progressive form,” exclaimed Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori earlier in March, criticizing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for not explicitly the disaster in his annual speech. “It’s not possible to avoid using the important and significant terms of the nuclear plant accident of nuclear power disaster.”

As IBTimes’s Juliana Rose Pignataro notes (and exposes in the images below), it’s been an uphill battle for the coastal prefecture of Fukushima, Japan, since an earthquake and tsunami devastated the region in 2011, causing a nuclear disaster at its power plant.

Six years later, workers are still battling to decommission the plant, where radiation is deadly. Officials expect the cleaning won’t be finished for decades.

20170605_fuku1_0In this handout provided by TEPCO, the deformed grating vessel of Fukushima’s No. 2 reactor is shown Jan. 30, 2017.


20170605_fuku2_0Workers remove nuclear fuel rods from a pool inside the No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, Nov. 18, 2013


20170605_fuku3_0TEPCO employee looks at the destroyed reactor in Fukushima, Japan, Feb. 25, 2016


20170605_fuku4_0Personal items were left behind in Fukushima, Japan, Feb. 26, 2016.


20170605_fuku5_0A wild boar roams in barren, Fukushima, Japan, Mar. 1, 2017


20170605_fuku6_0The damaged No. 3 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan is shown Feb. 25, 2016.


20170605_fuku7_0A deserted home is shown in Fukushima, Japan, Mar. 11, 2016.


20170605_fuku8_0Workers stand near the deserted nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan, Feb. 25, 2016.


20170605_fuku9_0The barren landscape of Fukushima, Japan sits empty, Mar. 11, 2016.


Despite the ongoing decommissioning, increasingly high levels of radiation and wild boar problem, officials have begun welcoming some evacuated people back to their homes. It’s unclear how many residents will choose to return.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima town, Namie, to receive compensation

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NHK has learned that a town near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is to receive compensation for a drop in the value of its land that was caused by the 2011 nuclear accident.
The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, will pay Namie Town 2.5 billion yen, or more than 22 million dollars.
This is the first time that the operator has agreed to compensate a municipality for assets that were affected by the accident.
In June of last year, Namie officials asked the company to pay about 104 million dollars in compensation for damage to 262 hectares of land owned by the town. Evacuation orders for parts of the town remained in effect for over 6 years.
The officials say they will negotiate with the power company over the remainder of the requested amount.
The Fukushima prefectural government says the town of Futaba has made a similar request and that other municipalities may follow suit.
Tokyo Electric is paying individuals and businesses compensation for damage to properties located in areas where evacuation orders were issued.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Nuclear Lab’s 5 Workers Exposed to Radiation

5 workers exposed to radiation at Japan nuclear lab
In this Tuesday, June 7, 2017 photo, Masato Kato, senior principal scientist in Fast Reactor Fuel Technology Development Department of Japan Atomic Energy Agency JAEA), bows during a press conference in Mito, north of Tokyo. The JAEA said five workers at a nuclear facility that handles plutonium have been exposed to high levels of radiation after a bag containing highly radioactive material broke during equipment inspection. The state-run agency said the incident occurred Tuesday at its Oarai Research & Development Center, a facility for nuclear fuel study that uses highly toxic plutonium.
TOKYO Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency said Wednesday that five workers at a nuclear facility that handles plutonium have been exposed to high levels of radiation after a bag containing highly radioactive material apparently broke during equipment inspection.
The state-run agency said the incident occurred Tuesday at its Oarai Research & Development Center, a facility for nuclear fuel study that uses highly toxic plutonium. The cause of the accident is under investigation.
The mishap poses a major nuclear security concern as well as a question as to whether the handlers and their health were adequately protected at the facility.
The agency said its initial survey found contamination inside the nostrils of three of the five men — a sign they inhaled radioactive dust. All five were also found to be contaminated on their hands and feet, but the radioactive material was likely to have been removed by taking off their gloves, shoe covers and other protective gear, and by taking a shower.
Agency spokesman Masataka Tanimoto said one of the men’s survey indicated high levels of plutonium exposure in his lungs, with the dose showing nearly 1,000 times that of his earlier nostril survey.
The figure, 22,000 Becquerels, could mean his exposure levels in the lungs are not immediately life-threatening, but are well above an average annual dose limit for nuclear workers.
The workers did not have any visible signs of health problems, Tanimoto said. They were taken to a special radiation medial institute for further health checks.
Japan’s possession of large numbers of plutonium stockpiles, resulting from the country’s struggling nuclear fuel reprocessing program, has already faced international criticism. Critics say Japan should abandon its spent fuel recycling ambitions because nuclear plant startups are still coming slowly amid persistent anti-nuclear sentiment since the 2011 Fukushima crisis.
Radioactive substance exposure at JAEA facility
Japan’s nuclear regulator says 5 workers at a nuclear research facility have accidentally been exposed to a radioactive substance.
Officials at the Nuclear Regulation Authority secretariat say the incident happened at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s O-arai Research and Development Center in Ibaraki Prefecture, shortly after 11 AM on Tuesday.
5 workers were inspecting fuel storage containers when a bag of powdered radioactive substance ripped and the contents spilled out.
The workers were wearing protective clothing and their faces were half-covered with masks, as they were in an area at risk of radioactive contamination.
Their hats and clothing were reportedly contaminated.
A maximum 24 becquerels of radioactive material was reportedly detected inside the noses of 3 of the 5 workers.
The facility tests and develops new-type fuel for fast-breeder reactors that run on plutonium.
Regulators say the material has not leaked outside the room where the spill occurred, and there has been no effect on the environment.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | 2 Comments

Secret Plutonium Fuel Shipment Planned for Japan’s Takahama Reactors

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Tokyo, 6 June 2017 – With today’s restart of the Takahama 3 reactor in Fukui Prefecture, Greenpeace revealed that the nuclear operator Kansai Electric and the French nuclear company AREVA are planning a secret plutonium fuel shipment from France to the Takahama plant. Plutonium fuel (MOX) reduces the safety of the reactor, increasing both the risk of a severe accident and its radiological consequences. The shipment is scheduled to depart Cherbourg France on 7 July.

This also presents serious security issues, both as it is a potential terrorist target and that the plutonium in the MOX fuel is direct use nuclear weapons material. Due to these risks, the U.S. State Department and other agencies are required to approve the security plan for plutonium shipments to Japan under the terms of the US – Japan Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement of 1988. The Trump administration has approved this shipment, despite the increasingly unstable conditions in the region.

The last thing Northeast Asia needs at this time, or at any time, is more nuclear weapons-usable material. Last year, the U.S. removed 331 kilograms of  plutonium from Japan due to security risks, while ignoring the 10 tons of material that remained. One year later, at least 500 kg more plutonium is being approved for delivery to Japan. Plutonium is not your normal cargo to be traded as a commodity. It can be used as nuclear bomb material. Japan’s bankrupt plutonium program, and its endorsement by the Trump administration, is a further threat to the peace and security of this troubled region,” said Shaun Burnie, nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany in Tokyo.

The shipment comes at a time when Northeast Asia is already destabilized due to threats on the Korean peninsula, the spectre of military conflict, and the increasing risks of nuclear weapons proliferation. Japan’s decades long and multibillion dollar plutonium program has failed to ensure energy security for Japan, but it has led to the nation accumulating over 48 tons of plutonium, 10 of which is stored in Japan, and the rest in the UK and France.

This shipment will consist of at least 16 plutonium fuel (MOX) assemblies, which are planned to be loaded into the Takahama 4 reactor during its next refueling, expected in 2018. The amount of plutonium in the shipment due to leave France next month is estimated to range from between 496-736kg – as little as 5kg is sufficient for one nuclear weapon.

Two lightly armed British vessels, the Pacific Egret and Pacific Heron, are scheduled to leave the French port of Cherbourg on 7th of July, and are expected to arrive in Takahama between mid-August and early September, depending on the route chosen. One of the ships will transport the plutonium fuel, and the other will act as ‘armed escort’.

Both Takahama 3 and 4 already have plutonium MOX fuel in their cores, with 24 and 4 MOX assemblies loaded into each reactor respectively.

KEPCO’s unjustified restart of the Takahama 3 reactor is made worse by the fact that they are planning a secret plutonium shipment which will increase the amount of dangerous plutonium MOX in their reactors. The Takahama reactors already pose an unacceptable threat to the people of Fukui and Kansai region. This will be compounded by the even greater usage of plutonium MOX fuel,” said Shaun Burnie, Senior Nuclear Specialist with Greenpeace Germany (currently based in Japan).

Due to the severity of the impacts of a nuclear disaster involving MOX fuel, citizens groups, including Greenpeace, have demanded that AREVA release vital safety data on the MOX fuel produced for Japan, including for the Fukushima Daiichi 3 reactor and the Takahama reactors, due to evidence of flawed production and quality control during manufacture.(1) To date, AREVA has failed to release any of the safety data. AREVA also refused to release the same data for MOX fuel loaded into the Fukushima Daiichi reactor 3 in 2000. The AREVA company which has suffered a near meltdown of its business in recent years, is desperate to secure more MOX fuel contracts with Japan, which suffered as a direct consequence of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident leading to the shutdown of the Japanese reactor fleet.

Of the five reactors now operating in Japan, three are operating with varying amounts of plutonium MOX fuel. There is a possibility of additional MOX fuel being in the shipment for other Japanese reactors – Ikata 3 is operating with MOX fuel, and the Genkai 3&4 will operate with MOX fuel if they restart before March 2018.

1 – Letter to AREVA Japan Calling for Disclosure of MOX Fuel Quality Control Data, 2016-01-28, and FUNDAMENTAL DEFICIENCIES IN THE QUALITY CONTROL OF MIXED-OXIDE NUCLEAR FUEL, Fukushima City, Japan, March 27th 2000

2 – Tokai plutonium shipment March 2016

June 7, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

A Clean-up Worker’s View Inside Fukushima’s Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant


Ichi-F is rich in detail and strikingly perceptive in analysis, and yet it oddly supports the nuclear industry even as the radiation continues to take its toll.

Kazuto Tatsuta’s account of his work experience at the massive clean-up project at Fukushima’s Daiichi nuclear plant is remarkable on many levels.

The plant—known as Ichi-F for short—was the one which experienced three nuclear meltdowns in the wake of the destructive earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011. Since that disaster, a large-scale clean-up effort at the nuclear plant has been underway, simultaneous with broader reclamation and recovery efforts in the surrounding regions that were devastated by the triple disaster.

Tatsuta’s (the name is a pseudonym) true identity remains unknown, but he claims to have been a middle-aged temp worker with a bit of manga illustration background who got himself hired by a subcontractor doing clean-up work at Ichi-F. After he completed his initial work assignment, he returned to Tokyo and began producing manga accounts of the recovery effort. The manga were a smash hit, rapidly consumed by a public still riveted by the disaster and starved for accurate information about what was going on in the still tightly-controlled recovery zone. Between government propaganda on the one hand and activist/media sensationalism on the other, Tatsuta’s manga offered a refreshingly different take on the situation at Ichi-F. He largely avoids politics, simply depicting the day-to-day experience of workers in the recovery effort.

Tatsuta’s work—finally compiled and translated into English—is hard to categorize as a manga. It’s deeply technical, offering layout sketches of the site, detailed explanations of the nature of the work and equipment that’s used. It’s also deeply perceptive in its analysis of the work relationships at the site; almost the equivalent of sociological fieldwork.

It’s sometimes been categorized as a ‘slice of life’ manga; that manga genre which concentrates not on literary technique or telling an exciting story, but on depicting some aspect of real life experience for the elucidation and empathy of readers.

But it’s more than that. Tatsuta’s work described itself as a ‘labour diary’ in the original Japanese version; the English translation calls it “a worker’s graphic memoir”. The terms ‘labour’ and ‘worker’ are important here: the work verges on offering a new genre, a sort of proletarian or working-class manga. This is reflected in Tatsuta’s apparent determination to identify himself and his colleagues as workers. It’s an identity he aims at in opposition to those who would label them either as heroes or as gullible and exploited; as villains or victims. He struggles to assign his colleagues a sense of agency in their work. They’re not heroes, but they’re not slaves either. They’re everyday guys (he depicts an almost exclusively male recovery project) going about their jobs with dignity, pride, and an essential sense of humanity. They care about doing a good job (a uniquely Japanese fastidiousness evident in their focused teamwork), yet eagerly grab the opportunity for a casual nap behind a radiation shield whenever they can.

Fukushima Daiichi isn’t really some terrifying place full of negligent, unsafe conditions where people are practically forced into slave labor,” he argues in an interview included in the American translated collection. “The folks working there are all just ordinary old guys, most of whom are locals from Fukushima, and the rest coming from all over the country to help. That’s what I want you to know.”

There is a proud albeit masculinist tradition in Japan of the ‘day labourer’—those workers who showed up at big city hiring sites seeking manual labour jobs in the pre- and post-WWII era. A tradition nearing extinction in the ‘90s, it was reborn in the age of the Internet, which managed to precaritize employment not just in manual labour but in all fields of endeavor. Cell phones and Internet terminals became the new hiring site, and precarious labour extended to even skilled and professional jobs. The nuclear clean-up work Tatsuta engaged in is the direct descendant of this lineage of precarious employment. Unfortunately, he doesn’t dwell on the fact, instead chosing to normalize and shrug off the broader social implications of his precarious livelihood as an unemployed man in his late 40s.

An Eye for the Everyday

Tatsuta has an eye for the every day, and the importance it plays in humanizing his subjects—the complexity of needing to use the toilet while wearing a radiation suit, or the difficulty of organizing bath-time in an overpopulated rental unit housing a dozen workers. There’s the beauty of a sunrise breaking over the horizon as they come off a late-night work shift, and the awkwardness of his boss prepping him what to say during a ‘surprise’ safety inspection to come later that day.

His account would indeed be a remarkably working-class, proletarian manga, at least insofar as it depicts in profound detail the experience of working-class life among the precariously employed at the nuclear plant, except for the fact that it lacks any deep political analysis. His structural analysis is first-rate; he breaks down in precise detail the complex work relationships at the plant. But he offers little in the way of judgment, and what little opinion he does offer is startlingly ambivalent. Yes, they’re precariously employed, even exploited in some ways, but he shrugs it off—they’re everyday guys, and that’s the way life goes. His commentary suggests this lack of judgment is the unique strength of his approach in this manga, but it can equally be seen as irresponsible prevarication.

He argues that what he presents is the honest portrayal of workers’ attitudes, apparently trying to forestall his critics. But a shrug in the face of precarious employment is hard to accept as honest and down-to-earth; it reeks of political immaturity. He also offers a broader progress narrative and refreshing though this may be in the context of Fukushima, the world has rightly become cynical of progress narratives.

When I started work, there was a police checkpoint at the intersection next to J-Village… Just about anything within 20km of Ichi-F was an off-limits protected zone. As the zone shrinks, the evacuation orders are slowly removed, but by bit…The lots for sale, which I showed you before, now feature new buildings under construction. You still see those black bags of contaminated dirt and protective green sheets, but there are also more and more fields and paddies replanted Rather than giving credence to the boilerplate “No path to the future,” “sluggish recovery” narratives, why not lend an eye to those areas which are recovering, slowly but surely?.. Nothing will happen that can be worse than what already happened.

Well, that’s the big question now, isn’t it?

Privatization, Profit, and Precarity

Tatsuta’s account may not be inherently critical of the nuclear industry, at least not on the basis of health and safety—he goes to great length to argue that radiation and its hazards are as controllable as any workplace hazard, and that the clean-up and recovery effort is actually proceeding quite well—but his narrative offers indirect yet profound criticism of the industry from a labour rights perspective. He illustrates a complex and privatized network of contractors and subcontractors engaged in the clean-up effort, which his work reveals as inefficient, greedy and deceptive (if not outright dishonest).

This is most clearly demonstrated in his efforts to obtain work in Fukushima. Back in Tokyo, he initially applies to several contractors, and despite offers of work—some of which sound so solid that he quits part-time jobs in preparation for his departure to Fukushima—only to be left hanging, or to discover that the companies have gone out of business and disappeared. When he finally does receive an offer that takes him to Fukushima, he and his co-applicants are left hanging for weeks while they wait for the subcontractor to be offered a gig. During this time, they are accumulating debt for their company-provided food and lodgings and other obligatory expenses that will be deducted from their pay, if they ever get any. They are eventually transferred to other lower-paying jobs as an interim measure while the company awaits a hopeful contract for nuclear or tsunami cleanup. Meanwhile, their lodgings are inadequate as well: ten or more men crammed into a single family living space, with a single bathroom.

Eventually, the subcontractor gets a contract, and Tatsuta gets to do the sort of work he came to do. But the shenanigans he experiences while waiting for that work reveals the inefficient and most likely corrupt sort of schemes that are the inevitable byproduct of such a convoluted and privatized system. Tatsuta may scoff at the health risks of the nuclear industry, but he’s quite open about the shortcomings of the industry from a labour rights perspective.

The thing is, he’s open about its shortcomings but isn’t actually critical. His reaction is to shrug off the complicated and bloated layers of the project. His attitude is one of the most perplexing things about the entire book. His analysis of the layers of subcontractors, and the sociological challenges this presents to workers trying move up within the system (as he observes through first-hand experience, trying to upgrade jobs by switching between companies has an eerie resemblance to pulling off a drug deal), comprises first-rate anthropological fieldwork. It’s a brilliant synthesis and analysis of the political economy and structural organization of the clean-up effort. And from any objective perspective, it’s appalling: a morass of inefficiency and corruption. Yet he concludes his brilliant and penetrating analysis with a cheery send-off:

People might think that the many-layered subcontracting system is problematic, but it’s how we maintain the cleanup efforts. It ensures local hiring and props up the economy here. That’s not to suggest that the system is ideal, but you can say that about almost any place in Japan…

What is that supposed to mean? How is the reader supposed to interpret his take? Is he so unaware that he doesn’t realize that he’s just described an incredibly inefficient, wasteful and corrupt system, with brilliant clarity? Does he simply not care? Are his final comments to be taken as a form of defeatism verging on nihilistic insouciance? Is he simply a prodigal yet immature analyst? Or on the other hand, is he hiding his true colours, pretending to be blasé or even on the side of the nuclear industry subcontractors, while laying out the system in damning enough detail so as to allow readers to draw their own conclusions?

Working-class Machismo

It’s hard to tell how Tatsuta situates himself in this work. On the surface, he situates himself in the working-class, but in an almost over-the-top way. He doesn’t just work at Ichi-F for a job; he actually comes to love the work. Despite the fact that it’s hot, physically grueling and demanding precarious shift-work for low pay, he seems to become addicted to it. He earnestly misses it when he’s back in Tokyo working on his comics, and eagerly jumps at any opportunity to return. Is this macho bravado? Would he, for that matter, be as gleeful at the prospect of being recalled to work at the site if he didn’t have a ready exit visa in hand whenever he wanted, in the form of his alter-ego as a rising manga star?

It is, of course, hard to say. But what is true is that the precarity of the men’s labour is ultimately sacrificed in the narrative, subsumed to Tatsuta’s effort to demonstrate the casual, if occasionally courageous, indifference of Ichi-F workers to their unusual work environment. Radiation exposure is reduced to numbers on a scale, and the men’s primary concern becomes how to reduce their daily exposure not so much for health reasons but rather so that they can extend their paid work at the site. Employees are only permitted to accumulate a certain amount of radiation exposure each year, and once they reach their annual limit they’re laid off and sent home to wait for the chance of a gig the following year, once their exposure levels have dissipated and reset. The narrative is profoundly successful at challenging broad-based fears of radiation exposure: the workers toil away, quite confident that kept within reasonable levels radiation exposure is nothing to worry about. Be that as it may, a job that lays off workers in order to preserve their health from the daily radiation they experience is a form of precarious and exploitative labour regardless of whether the radiation is dangerous or not.

Tatsuta strikes back at his critics, depicting his working-class comrades as everyday guys doing their best under difficult circumstances: hard-working, stoic, dedicated and determined to persevere. He resists efforts of journalists and activists to depict the work as unduly dangerous, or evil, or complicit in hiding truths from the public. They’re no different from any other group of hard-working labourers, he argues. But in his efforts to demonstrate this, Tatsuta’s narrative achieves the dubious success of glamourizing and normalizing precarious labour.

Tatsuta has kept his identity hidden, he says, because he continues to seek work at Ichi-F (at the same time as he cultivates careers in manga and music), and he doesn’t want to compromise his company and colleagues. He implies that he wouldn’t be hired for any more gigs at Ichi-F if it became known who he was. But really, it’s hard to say whether that’s the case. Regardless of his intentions—which he professes to be neutral; neither to promote or oppose the nuclear industry but simply to depict his first-hand experience as a worker—the fact is that his depiction does a tremendous service for the industry by portraying the experience and hazards of life at a recovering nuclear plant as normalized, everyday, routine and controllably safe (so long as one forgets that the reason they’re working there is that the plant experienced three unexpected meltdowns in the first place). This is quite a boon for the nuclear industry, whether he intends it as such or not. His analysis of work relationships are less positive, but he accompanies them with a cheery slap on the back: “the folks working there are all just ordinary old guys” and “you can say that about almost any place in Japan”.

The result is a worker’s manga that’s rich in detail, strikingly perceptive in analysis, and yet winds up siding with the bosses. Not quite the proletarian manga, but a remarkable demonstration of what working-class manga could be. And a thoroughly fascinating read, either way.



Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant

Kazuto Tatsuta

(Kodansha Comics)
US: Mar 2017


June 7, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

New Nuclear in UK: Moorside & Wylfa 

No2NuClear No 96 June 2017 The future of Moorside has been thrown into doubt by the financial troubles of Japanese giant Toshiba which owns the company developing the scheme – Nugen. Nugen is undertaking a strategic review of its options following what it calls “vendor challenges”, (1) although the company says it is “110 per cent certain” it will be built. (2)
According to The Times Toshiba is seeking a buyer for NuGen, but bidders are scarce and the sale is fraught with complexity. The source of Toshiba’s malaise is the decision — a decade ago — to transform itself into a global force in nuclear energy. The acquisition of Westinghouse from state-owned British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) was done amid the feverish climate of the precredit crisis boom.
 Westinghouse has two contracts to install AP1000 reactors at existing nuclear power stations in Georgia and South Carolina, signed in 2008 — America’s first nuclear reactors in a generation. The plants are years late and an estimated $10bn (£7.7bn) over budget, with no certainty about completion. After Fukushima, Toshiba was forced to enhance safety procedures at the two plants, at vast expense. The Japanese giant has, in effect, been left on the hook for unlimited costs. It has booked $6.3bn of write-downs on the Westinghouse subsidiary — and has warned that there is now doubt over Toshiba’s status as a going concern.
Korean nuclear giant Kepco is the most likely suitor for NuGen, but wants to use its own reactors rather than Westinghouse’s AP1000 design. A sale of the American company would be highly contentious, given its strategic importance. If a buyer cannot be found, or bankruptcy does not sever the liabilities on the American projects, all the uncapped costs could stay with the Japanese company. “Toshiba could end up as just a holding company for Westinghouse,” said one industry source. That would be the nightmare scenario for its investors — and a hammer blow to Britain’s nuclear strategy. (3)
The Chinese state-owned State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC) is also reported to be considering investing in NuGen. Eight senior officials from SNPTC are said to have met executives from NuGen and Britain’s atomic power trade body, the Nuclear Industry Association in May. Sources said SNPTC could seek to power NuGen with its own reactor — a derivative of Westinghouse’s AP1000 model, which is planned for the site. (4)
 The National Grid has also hit the pause button on Moorside’s 102-mile power line connection. Plans for the “biggest new power line since electricity network was built” have been shelved. (5)
The GMB union has demanded that the government “stop faffing” and step in to save Moorside. GMB slammed the government for “continued dithering” following the latest in a series of setbacks. “How many kicks in the teeth for the desperately needed new nuclear plant at Moorside will it take to bring politicians of all colours to their senses?” asked GMB national secretary Justin Bowden. “Britain must have the reliable zero carbon nuclear power that Moorside will bring as part of the balanced energy mix, alongside renewables and gas.” (6)
 NuGen held a Stage 2 public consultation which finished at the end of July 2016, but now 10 months later, there has been no feedback report despite the fact that it was promised for No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.96, June 2017 24
 ‘Autumn 2016’. Nor has NuGen indicated that it will hold the further consultation called for by CORE, local authorities and others to make up for the lack of detailed information provided in the Stage 2 consultation documents. (7)
Meanwhile, Horizon Nuclear Power has published new plans for its nuclear power station at Wylfa Newydd, which it states should cut the labour force needed to build the 2.7GW plant. The company, which is owned by Hitachi, has proposed a more compact design in its latest blueprint for the site on the Isle of Anglesey, off the north Wales coast. (8)It has launched a third formal consultation on the latest proposals. (9) The power station’s footprint will be reduced by sharing more buildings between the twin reactors, including the facilities for transmitting the electricity generated at the site to the Grid. Off-site support buildings, including a garage and back-up control facilities, will be housed in a single location. Horizon is also investigating making greater use of off-site construction.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

South Australia’s plan to import nuclear wastes is now dead in the water

Nuclear dump idea dead in SA June 7, 2017 Australian Associated Press,
Conservation groups have welcomed Premier Jay Weatherill’s move to abandon any plans to establish a high-level nuclear waste dump in South Australia. The premier has indicated the government won’t now proceed to hold a referendum on the issue, even if it is returned at next year’s state election.

Conservation SA chief executive Craig Wilkins says it’s great news the dump is dead. “This is a win for the many South Australians who stood up and demanded a better option for our state than as a home for the world’s radioactive waste,” Mr Wilkins said.

The state government floated the idea of SA having an increased involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle after the last state election and held a royal commission into the idea. The commission recommended the state consider building a high-level dump to earn billions of dollars by taking the world’s nuclear waste, while a citizen’s jury firmly rejected that proposal late last year.

At the time Mr Weatherill indicated the government would still put the question to a referendum at some time in the future.
But asked about the future of a dump at a community cabinet meeting earlier this week he declared the idea “dead”.
“There’s no foreseeable opportunity for this,” he said. The premier later reaffirmed Labor had dropped the proposal, telling internet news site InDaily that it was not something that would be progressed by Labor if the government was returned in March.
“This is great news. We are delighted the premier has announced that he has no intention to re-visit the divisive debate on a global nuclear waste dump,” Mr Wilkins said… 

June 7, 2017 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, wastes | Leave a comment

The unstoppable force – renewable energy

NuClear News No.96 June 2017,   What was remarkable about Donald Trump’s announcement on 1st June that the US would abandon the Paris climate agreement was not the almost universal condemnation of the move, but the number of stories about how successful renewable energy has become and how its advance has now become unstoppable.

Donald Trump is so wrong to be taking the US out of the Paris accord on climate change, says Jeremy Warner in the Daily Telegraph. The renewables train has already left the station and won’t now be stopped. Non binding targets for reducing greenhouse gases are no longer relevant and will almost certainly be naturally exceeded of their own accord without any help from inter-government actions. There is therefore absolutely no reason for the US to withdraw. (1)

Although President Donald Trump has presented his energy policy decisions as being focused on creating jobs, the solar and wind industries that could be threatened by leaving the Paris accord employ many more people than the coal industry that is likely to be the principal beneficiary. About 374,000 people spend at least some of their time working in the solar power industry in the US, with 260,000 of those working there more than half the time. A further 102,000 work in wind power. Together that is almost three times the 160,000 people employed in the coal industry, with about 86,000 of those at coal-fired power plants and 74,000 in coal mining and distribution. The number employed in coal mining has dropped from about 89,000 of those at coal-fired power plants and 74,000 in coal mining and distribution

The number employed in coal mining has dropped from about 89,000 at the start of 2012 to about 50,500 in April, following a slight bump of about 1,000 over the past year. Solar power is so labour-intensive in part because the rapid growth of the industry has created a lot of construction jobs installing systems. About 37% of US solar jobs are in construction, with about 27% in wholesaling. Only about 19% of US solar jobs are in manufacturing, and the industry has been heavily reliant on low-cost imported panels, mostly from China, Malaysia and Korea, to enable it to compete against fossil fuel generation. (2)

The US solar industry alone employs more than twice as many workers as the coal sector. Manhattan has more Tesla charging spots than petrol stations, though many are in fee-paying parking garages. And across the US, where power companies are facing lower wholesale prices thanks to cheaper natural gas, renewables are adding pressure too – even in unlikely spots such as oil-rich Texas. Texas now has more installed wind power capacity than Canada and Australia combined. If it were a country, it would rank as the world’s sixth-largest wind power, after China, the US, Germany, India and Spain.

The irony about Mr Trump’s inclination to back old industries, says Magnus Linklater in The Times, is that the US is an innovator in renewable energy, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. When you add in all the spin-offs, such as electric forms of transport, employment in renewable energy is starting to outstrip that in the declining oil and gas industries. Now is not the time to slow down. Wind turbines are proving a remarkable success. On some days they produce more electricity than Scotland needs, allowing it to export the remainder. In places like Denmark and Germany, where there has been a massive expansion of wind farms, they manufacture so much renewable energy that electricity prices have turned negative, with customers paid to use it. Alternative energy is beginning to turn in some remarkable statistics. On 26th May solar energy produced one quarter of Britain’s energy needs, more even than nuclear and coal-fired power. There is much more of this to come. (3)

Many U.S. states and private companies announced that despite Trump’s decision, they would continue their own existing policies, such as restricting greenhouse gas emissions, as well as pursue new ones to demonstrate urgency in addressing the climate threat. US states accounting for almost 30% of national gross domestic product have pledged to meet the country’s climate commitments. California, New York, Washington and five other states have said they are committed to cutting emissions by 26-28% from 2005 levels, which was the reduction proposed for the US by Barack Obama. (4) City leaders of 102 cities across the US have announced they are adopting the Paris Climate Agreement. Mayors who have signed on to the Mayors National Climate Action Agenda represent roughly 50 million Americans in 34 States. (5)

What is striking is how much of a financial impact this is already having on some companies says Per Lekander, a portfolio manager at London’s Lansdowne Partners hedge fund, who has tracked global energy markets for more than 25 years. Government efforts to tackle climate change and smog have driven down costs and spurred huge technical advances.

Global renewable power generation capacity rose by 9% last year – a fourfold increase from the start of this century – buoyed by the growth of solar power that shot up by more than 30%. For the second year in a row, renewable energy accounted for more than half the new power generation capacity added worldwide. These advances have become too significant for the oil and gas industry to ignore. Saudi Aramco talks about a “global transformation”; Shell says it’s “unstoppable”. Isabelle Kocher, chief executive of French power and gas group Engie, calls it a new “industrial revolution” that will “bring about a profound change in the way we behave”.

Brian Marrs, director of policy and strategy at NRG, the second-largest US power producer says: “I think what we’re seeing in the US now is the German postcard from the future finally arriving across the Atlantic.” Yet fast-growing industrialising nations are seeing some of the most profound changes. Towering over them all is smog-choked China, which has become a green energy juggernaut after designating renewables a strategic industry. China has more than a third of the world’s wind power capacity; a quarter of its solar power; six of the top 10 solarpanel makers; four of the top 10 wind turbine makers and more battery-only electric car sales last year than the rest of the world combined.

India is eager to follow: it built one of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic farms last year; ranks fourth in the world for wind power capacity; and could become the world’s third-biggest solar market this year. It also wants to boost its use of electric cars.

The cost of wind turbines fell by nearly a third since 2009 and solar panels by 80%, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). “It is as if every country in the world woke up one bright morning to find that it had a North Sea at its disposal”, says London energy analyst Kingsmill Bond. Costs are already lower than widely understood. “In 2010 we financed a 15 megawatt solar plant in southern California that cost $55m to build,” says Jim Long, a partner at Greentech Capital Advisors, a global clean energy advisory firm. “This year we have done another one the same size in the same area that has cost $15m and will produce at least 40 per cent more energy.”

Costs are expected to fall further as expensive subsidies guaranteeing set prices are replaced by competitive auctions or tenders. The amount of auctioned renewable electricity tripled last year compared to 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, while the average global price of auctioned solar power has plummeted fivefold since 2010. One of the most striking auction results came in Germany in April when Denmark’s Dong Energy, the largest builder of costly offshore wind farms, said it would build two new schemes without subsidies, relying instead on market prices alone. Advances in wind technologies – including the prospect of much more powerful turbines – were one reason for Dong’s move, a step others are expected to follow. “Renewables have reached a tipping point globally,” says Simon Virley, of KPMG. “A subsidy-free future is now in reach for a number of technologies and geographies.”

Even the experts have been caught out by the pace of the shift. In 2010, IEA projections suggested it could take 14 years before there were 180 gigawatts of installed solar capacity. It took less than seven years for the world to reach more than 290 gigawatts, nearly the entire generating capacity of Japan. “Fossil fuels have lost,” says Eddie O’Connor, chief executive of Irelands’s Mainstream Renewable Power. “The rest of the world just doesn’t know it yet.” (6)

June 7, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

Nuclear jobs in decline – renewable energy jobs rising fast – 13 times more jobs than in nuclear power.

No2Nuclear  No 96 June 2017 According to the Office for National Statistics the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) direct jobs in the nuclear industry had declined to 12,400 by 2015, but about 9,400 of these workers do not produce electricity at all. They are engaged mostly in legacy nuclear waste management.

In 2015 ONS reported that the number of FTE direct jobs in the renewable forms of electricity generation had increased to 48,900 – about 16 times the number of jobs in nuclear electricity generation. (2) In 2015, 338 TWh of electricity was produced in the UK (DECC data). This comprised 70 TWh from nuclear, 85TWh from renewables and the rest from fossil fuels. (3) That amounts to about 43 jobs per TWh for nuclear and about 575 jobs per TWh for renewables. So not only are renewables cheaper than nuclear, but they also create around 13 times more jobs than nuclear power.

Offshore wind is becoming a double win for policymakers, according to Ray Thompson, Head of Business Development at Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy. He says offshore wind is coming to represent a major challenge to competing technologies. The new Siemens blade manufacturing facility and project execution harbour in Hull which opened in December 2016 has already created 800 new jobs and the numbers on site will rise to over 1,000 when full production is reached. (4)

Renewable energy jobs could “offset” fossil-fuel job losses by 2030 according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017 presents the status of renewable energy employment, both by technology and in selected countries, over the past year. In this fourth edition, IRENA finds that renewable energy employed 9.8 million people around the world in 2016 – a 1.1% increase over 2015. Jobs in renewables, excluding large hydropower, increased by 2.8% to reach 8.3 million in 2016. China, No2NuclearPower nuClear news No.96, June 2017 8 Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany accounted for most of the renewable energy jobs. The shift to Asia continued, with 62% of the global total located in the continent. (5) Nuclear Power and Jobs

A policy which promotes nuclear power significantly diminishes the prospects of creating new jobs in renewable energy industries – in establishing an offshore wind manufacturing base for instance.

Nuclear power is a capital intensive industry, which means it requires a much higher injection of money to produce its final product – it is not a very efficient way of creating jobs. If there were an alternative way of providing or saving the same amount of electricity, but at the same time creating more jobs, clearly that would be a strategy worth pursuing.

One way of comparing the number of jobs created by different energy sources is to calculate the number of jobs for each Terawatt hour (TWh–1 billion kilowatt hours) generated annually. This, of course, will depend on the performance of the generating station. So a new 1.6GW reactor employing 500 people which operates an average of 80% of the time will be providing 45 jobs per TWh. Goldemberg has estimated the number of jobs created per TWh of power generated and found that nuclear produces around 75 jobs per terawatt hour (TWh), whereas wind power produces 918 – 2,400 per TWh. Solar photovoltaics provides 29,580 – 107,000 jobs/TWh. (1)

June 7, 2017 Posted by | employment, renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Extraordinary success of solar rooftop power in Scotland

Solar Portal 6th June 2017 Rooftop solar panels in towns and cities across Scotland were able to generate more than the average home’s demand for electricity throughout May in an “extraordinary month for renewables”, according to WWF Scotland. Analysis of solar data by WeatherEnergy found that homes in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and more were able to generate over 100% of the
average household electricity demand, with rooftop solar in Lerwick on the Shetland Islands producing the most kWh last month.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

USA, the Republican ideology of money, and the Paris climate agreement

Trump, the Paris Climate Agreement and Scrooge McDuck,,10369 Independent Australia,  Jim Pembroke 6 June 2017To understand Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord we only need to follow the money behind climate change denial, writes Jim Pembroke.THE WORLD’S collective jaw dropped the other day, when U.S President Donald Trump announced he was pulling the plug on the Paris Climate Accord.

Sure, we knew it was coming, but no one thought it would really happen. We figured the whole Russian thing would destroy Trump long before he got a chance to destroy the planet. But quicker than you can say, anthropogenic climate change, the Yanks were gone.

But who is really to blame for this mess? Angry white men, people who didn’t vote, Donald Trump and his troupe of bad impersonators?

For an answer to this we need to dip our toes – once again– into the murky waters of secret donations, clandestine organisations and fictional Disney characters. This is a tale about the unidentified rich who sit high on a stack of cash in their air-conditioned money vaults, while secretly bankrolling climate change denial. The Scrooge McDucks of this world.

An imaginary Disney character is about as close as we’ll get to the identity of these cloak and dagger contributors, because the hundreds of millions of dollars they donate to climate denial organisations are routed via third party payments.

This “dark money” is channelled anonymously through conservative organisations, like Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, whose stated mission is a commitment to “liberty”. Now that sounds fine until you realise that this includes the freedom to fund think tanks and activists who spread disinformation and confusion, scorning global warming and climate science.

Despite all the cloak and dagger stuff, the donations of some of these wealthy birds have been well documented. The fossil fuel industry and, in particular, ExxonMobil and the Koch family, have considerable history in the climate denial space. Exxon have been accused of covering up climate change research and American businessman Charles Koch has reportedly funded climate denial activity to the tune of tens of millions of dollars.

But it’s not just the wealthy ducks from the fossil fuel sector feeding the mayhem. Even companies who publically declare their grand support for climate action have made political donations to climate deniers. Google, Microsoft, eBay have all contributed to politicians who oppose climate legislation, while at the same time spruiking their own climate credentials to the public. The subsequent self-serving rationalisation of these Scrooge McDucks is evidence: there’s at least one thing they want more than improving the environment, their huge bank balances.

Likely, there were many factors affecting the decision to pull out of the Paris Accord. But without the confusion sewn by secretly funded denialists, it’s likely that rational, scientific thought would have won the day and the U.S. might still be part of the Paris Accord. However, the Scrooge McDucks of this world could never allow their ideology of money to be threatened by regulations — whether climate change is real or not.

You see, failing crops, water shortages, or savage storm events may wreak havoc on the rest of us, but won’t really affect the billionaires and corporations.

Like Uncle Scrooge, they’ll be swimming high on their mountains of coins, always safe from the rising waters of global warming.

June 7, 2017 Posted by | climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Solar lamps tackling poverty and ill-health in Africa

Solar lamps light up more African nights  June 5, 2017, by Paul Brown Solar lamps are tackling poverty, ill-health and natural hazards in Africa, thanks to Chinese industry and a UK-based charity.

LONDON, 5 June, 2017 – With 600 million people in Africa still without electricity and relying on expensive kerosene for lighting, the invention of a new high-quality solar light gives hope for a better quality of life for the poorest people of the continent.

And with solar light design and quality constantly improving and prices falling, a brighter future is more affordable – and can even turn a profit for householders.

The new £4 ($5) lamp now on offer in parts of East Africa was created by Inventid, a company based in Manchester, UK, and has undergone trials with 9,000 families in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia. The SM100, as it is called, is now being made in China by the solar giant Yingli and distributed in Africa by the charity SolarAid

The lamp is small enough to be used as a hand torch or a bicycle lamp, and has a stand which lets it be used as a table lamp or overhead light. It is tough enough to survive being dropped, or drenched in rain.

SolarAid, which has been pioneering the sale of solar lamps to poor communities in Africa since 2006, says the new model gives twice the light of a kerosene lamp and and, over its five-year guaranteed lifetime, saves a ton of carbon dioxide for each kerosene light it replaces. 

Cash generator

Although it is a charity, rather than give the lamps away SolarAid prefers to sell them at cost, creating trade in the economy. Each lamp sold at £4 generates £145 in cash for food and essentials in East Africa, it says.
Jeremy Leggett, founding director of SolarAid, says there are not many social-benefit paybacks as good as this in the world today: “We know that much of the money saved is spent on food and seeds. This is a great way to help people help themselves while famine stalks the continent.” 
Most people without electricity in Africa live on less than $1 a day, and buying kerosene takes up around 15% of their annual income. The SM100 runs at full power for up to eight hours when fully charged, and will also charge mobile phones.
As well as helping people escape from poverty, the lamps also help to improve their health; kerosene fumes damage eyes and lungs. The light also allows children to study after dark.

But Leggett says it is the light itself that makes the real difference. “Seeing the faces of Africans who witness a solar light being turned on for the first time in a hut at night, as I have, is a highly emotional experience.

“We often forget how lucky we are in the rich nations – how much we take for granted. One thing I hadn’t realised before I went to Africa is what a danger snakes are at night. With a solar light, you have a chance to see them.

“There are so many other benefits. It is thrilling to think that our lights address almost all the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

So far SolarAid has sold 1.9 million solar lights to Africa and hopes that this cheaper, later version will be even more successful. One of the problems is that some countries, for example Uganda and Malawi, tax solar lights, making them less affordable for the poor.

“In my view this is short-sighted, because the price has to be passed on to the consumer, meaning fewer lights will be sold, meaning reductions in the cash freed up by savings on the  kerosene which is no longer needed”, says Leggett.

Price of a drink

“Those savings, spent in the local economy, would help the governments build a healthy economy much more than the taxes they raise.”

When the Climate News Network last wrote about solar lights for Africa in February 2015, SolarAid was asking companies to donate 5% of their profits to the scheme. It now needs more help to reach more of the 600 million Africans without electricity.

“To get solar lights out to the frontier areas where we work, SolarAid is currently overdependent on increasingly impossible-to-predict and precarious donations from large organisations,” Leggett says.

He is asking all his friends, and many other people besides, to donate £4 a month – “the price of a drink – to pay for one light a month for Africa. – Climate News Network

June 7, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, decentralised | Leave a comment

Trump Against The World — Withdrawal From Paris Threatens Both Global Security and Economic Competitiveness


Energy. It’s the foundation for any modern economic system.

But if the extraction and use of that energy generates harm in the form of serious negative health impacts and ultimate environmental destruction, then it is accurate to say that continuing such energy use is unsustainable. That, ultimately, economies dependent on energy in the form of oil, gas, and coal will fail even as the world suffers the broadening calamities of an ever-worsening climate. Even the U.S. military is concerned about the ever-worsening situation — calling climate change a global threat multiplier.

For decades, a slow progress has been made toward accessing sustainable forms of energy like wind, solar, and electrified transportation. Such a transition away from fossil fuels and toward these new energy…

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June 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tuesday: Recommendations Against Dumping Nuclear Waste from Germany and US Commercial Nuclear Waste in South Carolina

Mining Awareness +

From Savannah River Site Watch:

Action Alert!  On June 6, 2017, speak up at the Nuclear Material Committee of the SRS Citizens Advisory Board in favor of two recommendations against bringing highly radioactive spent fuel to SRS. 

SRS already has a massive problem with existing nuclear waste and plutonium  – time to Halt Nuclear Waste Imports to SRS!  

SC Governor Henry McMaster stands with us and stated on April 14, 2017 that “I will continue to stand against any action to make South Carolina a dumping ground for nuclear waste.” (see letter posted here )

One recommendation to be discussed on June 6 expresses opposition against commercial US spent fuel storage at SRS –  linked here )

The other recommendation is against bringing German spent fuel to SRS (via the port of Charleston) – linked here )

The CAB committee meets on Tuesday June 6, 2017…

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June 7, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment