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0.24 to 0.72 microsievert per hour at five schools in Kashiwa city, 47km from Tokyo

Capture du 2017-06-12 17-21-21


In January 2017, the Chiba Prefectural Board of Education was notified that radiation above the national standard level was measured at the Kashiwa city central gymnasium.

Following that report the Chiba Prefectural Board of Education conducted an investigation in Kashiwa city from late April to the middle of May 2017.

A radiation level exceeding the national standard of 0.23 microsievert per hour was detected on the premises of five schools in Kashiwa City, The radiation measured at 1 meter above ground level ranged from 0.24 to 0.72 microsievert.

At Kashiwa High School, Higashi Tsukuba High School and Middle School, Kashiwa Chuo High School, Kashiwanami High School and Kusanami Takayanagi High School, at places where usually no one enters: near a pool, at the back of a bicycle parking lot, etc..

The prefectural Board of Education decided to cordon those hot spots, to prohibit the entry and to decontaminate those places by soil removal.

They are also planning to conduct a radiation levels survey to the schools outside of Kashiwa city.


Capture du 2017-06-12 20-07-17

Kashiwa city, 47.1km from Tokyo


June 12, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

A warning to Norway, on Russia’s bad history of nuclear waste disposal

For Nadezhda Kutepova, fighting for the rights of people living in the villages along the Techa river came with a price. First, the organization she founded in the 1990s, Planeta Nadezhd (Planet of Hopes), was declared «foreign agents» by the Justice Ministry in April 2015. The law labeling NGOs as «foreign agents» aims to close down activities of groups working with political questions and get funding from abroad. Recently afterwards, the federal TV channel Rossiya 1 aired the news that Planeta Nadezhd used American money to conduct industrial espionage.

Nadezhda’s group is one of 11 environmental NGOs to end up on the «foreign agents» list since the law was introduced in 2012.

Activist in exile says Norway’s nuclear waste support is irresponsible, Barents Observer, Thomas Nilsen,  June 07, 2017

Nadezhda Kutepova was forced to flee Russia after fighting for the rights of the residents in radioactive contaminated villages near Mayak, the site where all spent nuclear fuel from Andreeva Bay will be sent.

On June 27, the first shipment of containers with highly radioactive spent fuel elements will leave Andreeva Bay on the Kola Peninsula. Destination: Mayak reprocessing plant in the South-Ural.

For 20 years, Norway has financed infrastructure upgrades aimed at shipping spent nuclear fuel away from Andreeva Bay. The rundown facility is located 55 kilometers from the border to Norway on the Barents Sea coast and is considered to be the worst storage facility for Cold War nuclear waste in the Russian Arctic.

When the nuclear waste shipment sails away with the first few of an estimated 3,000 containers, Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende and State Secretary Marit Berger Røsland will be on site and wave farewell.

This landmark event, though, is not welcomed by activists fighting for the rights of the people effected by radioactive contamination in the vicinity of Mayak.

«I think it is a irresponsible decision by Norway,» says Nadezhda Kutepova to the Barents Observer. She says out of sight, doesn’t mean out of mind.

I’m sure the Norwegian government knows about the situation in Mayak only from officials represented by Rosatom.» 

Rosatom is Russia’s state nuclear corporation in charge of operating the reprocessing plant in Mayak where all accumulated naval spent nuclear fuel from the fleet of submarines will be treated. In total, some 22.000 spent fuel elements are to be shipped from Andreeva Bay, first with boat to Murmansk, then by rail to the Mayak plant north of Chelyabinsk. Both the vessel to sail in shuttle between Andreeva Bay and Atomflot in Murmansk and the railwagons are special designed to assure best possible safety. Each container takes seven fuel assemblies. In total, 3.143 container transports will be needed before the storage tanks are empty. In other words, the containers will be shuttling back and forth between the Kola Peninsula and the Chelyabinsk region for years to come.

«Mayak’s reprocessing activities are dangerous. It is a very bad idea to send more waste. In reality, Norway can never check what happens there,» says Nadezhda Kutepova.

«Supporting the activities of Mayak, like reprocessing, Norway increases violations of human rights for the people who are living in the vicinity of the nuclear waste storages. Especially those living along the Techa river,» Kutepova explains.

Techa river became heavily contaminated by radioactive waste products from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons that started at Mayak in 1949. Other accidents, like the 1957 Kyshtym disaster, have contaminated other areas in the neighborhood where tens of thousands of people were living.

Radioactive water from Mayak goes to a system of reservoirs. «Mayak can’t prevent leakages from the reservoirs into the Techa river. Espesially in the spring. They are lying,» Kutepova claims and says there are still some 5000 people living in four villages downstream the contaminated Techa river.

For Nadezhda Kutepova, fighting for the rights of people living in the villages along the Techa river came with a price. First, the organization she founded in the 1990s, Planeta Nadezhd (Planet of Hopes), was declared «foreign agents» by the Justice Ministry in April 2015. The law labeling NGOs as «foreign agents» aims to close down activities of groups working with political questions and get funding from abroad. Recently afterwards, the federal TV channel Rossiya 1 aired the news that Planeta Nadezhd used American money to conduct industrial espionage.

Nadezhda’s group is one of 11 environmental NGOs to end up on the «foreign agents» list since the law was introduced in 2012. Others working with nuclear safety in northern Russia are Ecodefense, Kola Eco Centre and Bellona Murmansk. The last played a key-role as whistleblower and solution seeker for radiological safety projects at Andreeva Bay. Like many other NGOs, Bellona Murmansk decided to close down the organization after being branded  «foreign agents.»

When accused of treason in media Kutepova fled to France seeking asylum. She is afraid the accusations presented on federal TV were just the beginning of what could be formal prosecution.

Talking to the Barents Observer from Paris, Nadezhda Kutepova explains how people die from cancer in the area polluted by Mayak. She should know. Growing up in the closed town of Ozyorsk – formerly known as Chelyabinsk-65 – her father and grandparents were victims of the nuclear industry they worked for. They died of cancer.

She says Norwegian authorities should talk to NGOs that have worked in the area. They can tell another story than officials from Rosatom will tell.

«They should visit the villages along the Techa river where peoples should have been evacuated long ago but still live there.»

«It would be better not to waste the money. They should have supported another storage from the first moment, but I know this isn’t an easy decision. But they need to study the issue better,» Kutepova argues.

Norwegian officials are well aware of the troubles in Mayak. Ingar Amundsen is head of section for international nuclear safety with the Radiation Protection Authorities. …..

The reprocessing plant in Mayak, named RT-1, started operation in 1977 and has until now only processed spent nuclear fuel from the first and second generation of Russian designed water cooled reactors from nuclear power plants. Recent upgrades, however, now make it possible to reprocess fuel also from submarine and icebreaker reactors……

At the reprocessing plant in Mayak, the spent nuclear fuel will be chemically separated, a process where plutonium and uranium will be recovered. Reprocessing, though, does not reduce the volum of high-level waste. It creates an increased volum in liquid form. Also, radiation from the remaining isotopes is high and therefore does not eliminate the need for a highest possible technical and security storage options. At Mayak, limited information is available in public domains about technical solutions for both the reprocessing itself and storage solutions for the waste products.

Ph. D. Natalia Mironova, a former Member of the Regional Duma in Chelyabinsk, has earlier told the Barents Observer that there are better options than reprocessing.

«Alternative to reprocessing is well known; dry storage.»

«Legacy of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel at Mayak has been a heavy burden for many generations. It is a big injustice for the local people,» Mironova says.

«Reprocessing is dangerous. We have bad experience in handling liquid radioactive waste,» she argues.

Mironova also points to the risks of transport and reloading the containers with fuel.

«Transportation is a risky process. Minimization of the risk is best strategy. Safe storing with less transport and far away from Mayak would be the best strategy.»

Most other nuclear power countries in the world chose to store the waste and not reprocess it.

On June 28, the joint Norwegian-Russian commission on nuclear and radiation safety will meet in Kirkenes, Norway’s border town to the Kola Peninsula in the north. Ingar Amundsen informs that future project cooperation related to Andreeva Bay will be discussed.

With project funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, some 2 billion kroner are granted by Norway to nuclear safety projects in northern Russia over the last two decades. ……..

The storage dump in Andreeva Bay was built soon after the Soviet navy got its first nuclear powered submarine in the early 1960s. A pool type storage, given the code-name Building No. 5, had a leakage in the early 80s and the lethal fuel elements were urgently transferred to the three dry storage tanks. Supposed to be temporary, the totally run-down tanks have now served for more than 30 years. The 22.000 fuel elements in the tanks are equal to around 100 reactor cores.

In addition comes thousands of cubic meters of solid and liquid radioactive waste that one day will be removed.

Speaking at a seminar in Oslo devoted to Putin’s Year of Ecology, Bellona’s Frederic Hauge said the removal of the spent nuclear fuel from Andreeva Bay likely are the most risky part in the Post Cold War history of nuclear waste clean-up in the north.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

Renewable energy is beating nuclear power production in USA

Renewable Energy Outproduces Nuclear In The U.S. [good graphs] 

• The contribution from solar reached just over 2 percent

• The contribution from All Renewables exceeded that from Nuclear

• The combined contribution from Wind and Solar exceeded 10 percent

• The contribution from Non-Hydro Renewables exceeded 12 percent

………This year the increase in solar output in March seems significantly greater than in the previous three years. The solar generation capacity in the U.S. increased by over 57 percent for the year 2016 and data is not yet available from the Solar Energy Industries Association for the first quarter of 2017….

June 12, 2017 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Increased activity around N. Korean test site may indicate 6th nuclear test

Activity around N. Korean test site may foretell 6th nuclear test, Asahi Shimbun, By YOSHIHIRO MAKINO/ Correspondent, June 11, 2017 SEOUL–Activity has intensified in the area around a North Korean nuclear test site, indicating Pyongyang may be preparing a sixth nuclear test, which it warned last month was “imminent.”

The preparations near the Punggyeri site match those of past occasions before North Korea conducted a nuclear test.

According to sources knowledgeable about what is occurring in North Korea, scientists who oversee nuclear materials as well as evaluate the nuclear tests have gathered at the Punggyeri site.

In addition, traffic to the site has been apparently shut down at the checkpoints leading to the area in northeastern North Korea.

However, movement of vehicles and humans within the test site continues to be active.

It is unclear if that flurry of activity is a precursor to a nuclear test or simply an exercise to prepare or inspect the site.

With the international community continuing to exert strong pressure on Pyongyang, a South Korean government source said, “there is a low possibility of North Korea going ahead with a nuclear test, which could end up being an act of suicide.”

There is the possibility of even further economic sanctions, such as suspension of petroleum imports, should North Korea continue with military provocations.

According to sources knowledgeable about China-South Korea ties, similar activity around the Punggyeri site was observed in April.

China took those preparations to be a sign that North Korea was about to conduct a nuclear test. Chinese officials explained to their counterparts in the United States and South Korea that pressure was applied at that time on North Korea in the form of a temporary suspension of Air China flights between Beijing and Pyongyang.

Meanwhile, North Korea has shown little sign of being cowed by the sanctions…….

June 12, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Is Britain unaware of the nuclear industry’s financial meltdown?

The Nuclear Industry Is in Financial Meltdown,  By Ian Fairlie, Global Research, June 11, 2017 The Ecologist 9 June 2017 Most British politicians – waking up after a General Election which sent a strong message that the UK electorate don’t want railroading by its leaders – sail along blissfully innocent of nuclear’s impending denouement, not only in the rest of the world but in the UK too, writes IAN FAIRLIE.

The UK political situation on nuclear power is pretty uninspiring, apart from the Greens. Few political supporters of nuclear power appear to be aware that nuclear power is in free-fall around the world – especially in Western Europe and in the US, where many reactors are being closed without replacement.

Few seem aware of the legal, technical, regulatory, and economic difficulties faced by utilities in building the handful of new reactors and of the crippling costs of shutting down the many old ones. None appears aware of nuclear’s financial meltdown across the globe.

In a perceptive new article published by a prestigious US Ivy League University, Is Nuclear Power Coming To An End? Fred Pearce, a distinguished UK science writer, wrote:

“Now come the bankruptcies. In an astonishing hammer blow to a global industry in late March 2017, Westinghouse – the original developer of the workhorse of the global nuclear industry, the pressurized-water reactor (PWR), and for many decades the world’s largest provider of nuclear technology -filed for bankruptcy after hitting big problems with its latest reactor design, the AP1000.

“Largely as a result, its parent company, the Japanese nuclear engineering giant Toshiba, is also in dire financial straits and admits there is ‘substantial doubt’ about its ability to continue as a going concern.

“Meanwhile, France’s state-owned Électricité de France (EDF), Europe’s biggest builder and operator of nuclear power plants, is deep in debt thanks to its own technical missteps and could become a victim of the economic and energy policies of incoming President Emmanuel Macron.

“This is no short-term trend. While gas and renewables get cheaper, the price of nuclear power only rises. This is in large part to meet safety concerns linked to past reactor disasters like Chernobyl and Fukushima and to post-9/11 security worries, and also a result of utilities factoring in the costs of decommissioning their aging reactors.”

Pearce concludes by stating

“…the industry is in crisis. It looks ever more like a 20th-Century industrial dinosaur, unloved by investors, the public, and policymakers alike. The crisis could prove terminal.”

Most British politicians sail along blissfully innocent of nuclear’s impending denouement, not only in the rest of the world but in the UK too. The Government’s nuclear plans at Hinkley, Wylfa and Moorside are doubtful at best and moribund at worst.

First Anti-Nuclear Conference in 30 Years

We might shake our heads at the ignorance and irrationality of some of our senior politicians. However we should perhaps not despair too much, because on 17th June, CND is convening a one-day National Conference in London with a stellar array of speakers. No Need For Nuclear Conference

The Conference will explicitly discuss the incoherence and irrationality of the nuclear policies adopted by the main parties. Apart from Chernobyl or Fukushima anniversaries, this is the first anti-nuclear conference in the UK in about 30 years. As such, it marks the long overdue re-emergence of an important issue.

The UK anti-nuclear groups are relatively weak, under-resourced and fragmented, which means there has been little recent opposition to the Government’s irrational energy policies.

Perhaps this conference will help change that. No Need for Nuclear Conference booking:

Dr Ian Fairlie is an independent consultant on environmental radioactivity. He was formerly a senior scientist in the Civil Service and worked for the TUC as a researcher between 1975 and 1990.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK, USA | Leave a comment

US Senate’s move to impose new sanctions on Iran contradicts the nuclear deal

Iran says US Senate bill contradicts nuclear deal, Tehran, Iran, June 11 By Mehdi Sepahvand  

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi has said the US Senate’s move to impose new sanctions on Iran is contradicts the nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

“We believe such legislation is contradictory to the principle of good will and successful implementation of the JCPOA,” he said, IRIB news agency reported June 11.

Araqchi censured the legislation as “shameful” and said it shows “confusion” and “wrong policies”.
He described the U.S. Senate’s status in condemning Iran for supporting terrorism is “farcical” and “shameful”.

The US Senate on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to advance a bill that would impose new sanctions on Iran.

A senior Senate aide said the Iran sanctions measure could come up for a vote as soon as next week. The legislation would impose new sanctions on Iran over its defense missile program, support for resistance movements and claims of human rights violations against the country.

To become law, the measure would have to pass the Republican-led House of Representatives and be signed by President Donald Trump. So far, Washington has slapped two rounds of sanctions on Iran under the new US administration in breach of a nuclear accord.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Fire danger of America’s nuclear waste pools – underestimated by Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

Study: US NRC Relied On Faulty Analysis To Justify Refusal To Adopt Catastrophic Nuclear Waste Fire Safety Measures, Clean Technica, June 11th, 2017 by James Ayre , A new study from Princeton University and the Union of Concerned Scientists has revealed that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) relies on faulty analysis to “justify its refusal to adopt a critical measure for protecting Americans from the occurrence of a catastrophic nuclear-waste fire at any one of dozens of reactor sites around the country.”

While the nuclear fallout from such an incident could contaminate an area twice the size of New Jersey, force the relocation of around 8 million people, and cause trillions of dollars in damages, the NRC apparently sees no issue with the current lack of safeguards — and is content with using faulty justifications for cover. I wonder why?

Frank von Hippel, a co-author of the new paper and a senior research physicist at Princeton’s Program on Science and Global Security (SGS), commented: “The NRC has been pressured by the nuclear industry, directly and through Congress, to low-ball the potential consequences of a fire because of concerns that increased costs could result in shutting down more nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, if there is no public outcry about this dangerous situation, the NRC will continue to bend to the industry’s wishes.”

Catastrophic nuclear fires like those mentioned above could be triggered at many of the nuclear power plants in the US through a variety of mechanisms, whether by large earthquakes or terrorism. The thing about this, though, is that simple regulatory measures could greatly reduce the likelihood and extent of such events — the problem is simply that they drive up costs and are thus unwanted by those in the industry and associated with it.

Since there are a number of nuclear energy proponents that comment on this site from time to time, I’ll use this opportunity to note that my main objection with nuclear is simply that there’s no way to separate it from human nature/stupidity. ……

Something that should be realized here is that while such an event would lead to total damages of around $2 trillion, according to the researchers, the nuclear industry itself would only be liable to cover around $13.6 billion, owing to the Price Anderson Act of 1957. In other words, as with the banking crisis, US tax payers would again be on the hook.

The authors of the new work note that states that provide nuclear subsidies can probably force the hands of some operators, requiring them to enact the suggested changes by threatening to withhold funding.

Co-author Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, concludes that: “In far too many instances, the NRC has used flawed analysis to justify inaction, leaving millions of Americans at risk of a radiological release that could contaminate their homes and destroy their livelihoods. It is time for the NRC to employ sound science and common-sense policy judgments in its decision-making process.”

The new research is detailed in a paper published in the journal Science.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Pacific island leaders at UN Oceans Conference push for nuclear clean-up

FSM and Marshalls urge nuclear clean-up, Radio New Zealand 9 June 17 A number of Pacific leaders have used the UN Oceans Conference to bring global attention to nuclear contamination and World War Two wrecks that have become environment hazards.

Federated States of Micronesia and the Marshall Islands have led the charge in highlighting what they call ‘real concerns’ confronting their people in the event of nuclear contamination or an oil spill from shipwrecks in their territorial waters.

The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) said since 2005, when its regional strategy on marine pollution from World War 2 wrecks was adopted, not much had been implemented because coastal states preferred to deal with the issue bilaterally with the flag states.

The two flag states for most of the 800 wrecks that litter the territorial waters of five Pacific countries are the United States and Japan.

Most of the wrecks are remnants of World War 2……..

Nuclear Contamination

Also speaking at the Oceans Conference the President of the Federated States of Micronesia Peter Christian said nuclear contamination was a serious threat for small island countries in the north Pacific as there were claims the fall-out from the nuclear tests conducted in the Marshall Islands may have reached as far as Palau.

The FSM pointed out a storage dome for radioactive waste on Enewetak Atoll was cracking and leaking and plants around it were dying.

The FSM called for the Pacific Islands Forum to invite countries responsible for the nuclear contamination and Second World War shipwrecks to the Forum leaders’ summit later this year to explain what they intended to do about the waste.

The Samoan Prime Minister and Forum chair Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the issue will be on the agenda at the September meeting.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

America’s Environment Chief Scott Pruitt’s early departure from G-7 climate talks

U.S. Environment Chief Exits G-7 Climate Talks Before End, Bloomberg, by Jess Shankleman and Chiara Albanese, 11 June 17 

  • EPA’s Scott Pruitt leaves Bologna for meeting with Trump
  • UN’s Solheim says Europe is ‘more united than ever’ on climate

U.S. environment chief Scott Pruitt headed home before the conclusion of a Group of Seven ministers’ meeting on climate in Italy to attend a cabinet meeting in Washington. Pruitt, who as Environmental Protection Agency administrator successfully campaigned for the U.S. to quit the landmark Paris climate agreement, left Bologna Sunday, the EPA said in an emailed statement. ….

Pruitt’s exit from the discussions may further impede plans by environment ministers at the two-day meeting. The delegates from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the U.K. were intending to issue a statement on a range of green issues including climate change on Monday….

June 12, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Accidential exposure to Plutonium: what this means for Japanese nuclear workers

Increase in Cancer Risk for Japanese Workers Accidentally Exposed to Plutonium, ED LYMAN, SENIOR SCIENTIST | JUNE 9, 2017, 

 According to news reports, five workers were accidentally exposed to high levels of radiation at the Oarai nuclear research and development center in Tokai-mura, Japan on June 6th. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the operator of the facility, reported that five workers inhaled plutonium and americium that was released from a storage container that the workers had opened. The radioactive materials were contained in two plastic bags, but they had apparently ripped.

We wish to express our sympathy for the victims of this accident.

This incident is a reminder of the extremely hazardous nature of these materials, especially when they are inhaled, and illustrates why they require such stringent procedures when they are stored and processed.

According to the earliest reports, it was estimated that one worker had inhaled 22,000 becquerels (Bq) of plutonium-239, and 220 Bq of americium-241. (One becquerel of a radioactive substance undergoes one radioactive decay per second.) The others inhaled between 2,200 and 14,000 Bq of plutonium-239 and quantities of americium-241 similar to that of the first worker.

More recent reports have stated that the amount of plutonium inhaled by the most highly exposed worker is now estimated to be 360,000 Bq, and that the 22,000 Bq measurement in the lungs was made 10 hours after the event occurred. Apparently, the plutonium that remains in the body decreases rapidly during the first hours after exposure, as a fraction of the quantity initially inhaled is expelled through respiration. But there are large uncertainties.

The mass equivalent of 360,000 Bq of Pu-239 is about 150 micrograms. It is commonly heard that plutonium is so radiotoxic that inhaling only one microgram will cause cancer with essentially one hundred percent certainty. This is not far off the mark for certain isotopes of plutonium, like Pu-238, but Pu-239 decays more slowly, so it is less toxic per gram.  The actual level of harm also depends on a number of other factors. Estimating the health impacts of these exposures in the absence of more information is tricky, because those impacts depend on the exact composition of the radioactive materials, their chemical forms, and the sizes of the particles that were inhaled. Smaller particles become more deeply lodged in the lungs and are harder to clear by coughing. And more soluble compounds will dissolve more readily in the bloodstream and be transported from the lungs to other organs, resulting in exposure of more of the body to radiation. However, it is possible to make a rough estimate.

Using Department of Energy data, the inhalation of 360,000 Bq of Pu-239 would result in a whole-body radiation dose to an average adult over a 50-year period between 580 rem and nearly 4300 rem, depending on the solubility of the compounds inhaled. The material was most likely an oxide, which is relatively insoluble, corresponding to the lower bound of the estimate. But without further information on the material form, the best estimate would be around 1800 rem.

What is the health impact of such a dose? For isotopes such as plutonium-239 or americium-241, which emit relatively large, heavy charged particles known as alpha particles, there is a high likelihood that a dose of around 1000 rem will cause a fatal cancer. This is well below the radiation dose that the most highly exposed worker will receive over a 50-year period. This shows how costly a mistake can be when working with plutonium.

The workers are receiving chelation therapy to try to remove some plutonium from their bloodstream. However, the effectiveness of this therapy is limited at best, especially for insoluble forms, like oxides, that tend to be retained in the lungs.

The workers were exposed when they opened up an old storage can that held materials related to production of fuel from fast reactors. The plutonium facilities at Tokai-mura have been used to produce plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel for experimental test reactors, including the Joyo fast reactor, as well as the now-shutdown Monju fast reactor. Americium-241 was present as the result of the decay of the isotope plutonium-241.

I had the opportunity to tour some of these facilities about twenty years ago. MOX fuel fabrication at these facilities was primarily done in gloveboxes through manual means, and we were able to stand next to gloveboxes containing MOX pellets. The gloveboxes represented the only barrier between us and the plutonium they contained. In light of the incident this week, that is a sobering memory.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | - plutonium, health, Japan, radiation, Reference | Leave a comment

Serious safety concerns about restarting Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture

Takahama’s problematic restart, FEB 10, 2016 The No. 3 reactor of Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, which was restarted in late January, is expected to start commercial operations in late February. Its No. 4 reactor is also set to be restarted around the same time. Although the Takahama Municipal Government and Fukui Prefecture gave their consent to the restart, there are serious concerns, including those expressed by nearby municipalities and their residents.

Following the restart of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture, Takahama unit 3 is the third reactor to come back online under the safety regulations introduced by the Nuclear Regulation Authority following the shutdown of the nation’s nuclear plants in the wake of the March 2011 disaster at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant. But it is the first to run on mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, which contains not only uranium but also plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel. The No. 4 reactor at Takahama will also use MOX fuel.

Japan has accumulated 48 tons of plutonium — enough to make an estimated 6,000 nuclear bombs — as a result of the government’s nuclear fuel cycle policy, which aims to reprocess spent fuel to extract uranium and plutonium to be used again as fuel. The Takahama restart may help the government show its resolve to cut its plutonium stockpile to address U.S. concerns over nuclear proliferation. But the restart will pose a problem in the not-too-distant future. The spent fuel storage facilities for reactors 3 and 4 are expected to become filled in seven or eight years after they are reactivated. Spent uranium fuel from nuclear power plants is to be sent to a fuel reprocessing facility in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, still on a trial run, but the plant cannot reprocess used MOX fuel — meaning that there will be no place to store overflowing spent fuel from the Takahama reactors. Although Kansai Electric aims to choose a site for a medium-term storage facility outside Fukui by around 2020, no prefectures seem willing to host it.

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, local governments within 30 km of a nuclear power plant are now required to devise plans to evacuate their residents in the event of a major accident. In the case of Takahama, nearly 180,000 residents in 12 municipalities in Fukui, Kyoto and Shiga prefectures live in the 30-km zone. Part of the city of Maizuru, Kyoto Prefecture, is within 5 km of the Takahama plant. Despite this, Kansai Electric stuck to the position that to restart the reactors it only needs consent from the host town of Takahama and Fukui Prefecture, and it ignored calls from Kyoto and Shiga prefectures and many other municipalities within the 30-km zone that it should also gain their consent. The same situation happened when Kyushu Electric Power Co. pushed to restart the Sendai reactors. The power companies should address the concerns harbored by municipalities and residents that do not host plants but lie close enough to be affected by a nuclear disaster.

Despite the requirement for compiling evacuation plans, no evacuation drills with local residents have been carried out in the municipalities around Takahama and many residents have received no instructions on where they should evacuate to in the event of a severe accident. Maizuru, for example, won’t release a new evacuation plan for its residents until March. While there are plans to evacuate some Fukui residents to Hyogo, Kyoto and Tokushima prefectures, many municipalities are not ready to receive them. In addition, evacuations may not proceed as planned in extreme weather conditions such as heavy snow or when roads are congested. The Fukushima disaster also exposed the evacuation difficulties faced by inpatients at hospitals and elderly people in nursing care facilities. And as there are few access roads to the Takahama facility, the evacuation of plant workers and dispatch of emergency teams may be hindered. The Takahama facility is among 14 nuclear power plants concentrated by Wakasa Bay in Fukui Prefecture. If a major disaster hits the plants simultaneously, the area will be highly vulnerable.

In December, the Fukui District Court quashed an injunction issued by the same court in April against restarting the Takahama reactors, paving the way for Kansai Electric to put them back online. Although the ruling upheld the NRA’s new safety standards for restarting reactors as rational and endorsed the authority’s decision that the Takahama reactors met the standards, both Kansai Electric and the NRA should not forget that the ruling also stated that the NRA’s decision does not rule out the possibility of a severe accident and that high-level efforts for safety must be constantly maintained because there is no such thing as absolute safety. Since it is believed that controlling a reactor that burns MOX fuel is more difficult than one that uses uranium, Kansai Electric cannot be too cautious in operating the Takahama plant.


June 12, 2017 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Film: Renewable Japan, The Search for a New Energy Paradigm

Renewable Japan, The Search for a New EnergyParadigm   Hiroyuki Kawai Lawyer

Dear All,

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself and my third movie. I am a lawyer based in Tokyo. I have spoken out regarding the dangers of nuclear power and taken legal action together with other lawyers and citizens’ groups to halt the use of nuclear power throughout Japan for some twenty years now.

I have stepped up my efforts since the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant and in an effort to inform the public (in Japan and elsewhere) with regard to issues around the use of nuclear power, I have made three movies. The first, “Nuclear Japan: Has Nuclear Power Brought Us Happiness?” provided a detailed description of Japan’s nuclear village and of the accident at Fukushima. The second “Nuclear Japan: The Nightmare Continues” focused on the accident at Fukushima and the lives of those affected by it some four years later. These movies were widely viewed by the Japanese public and used as a reference in a number of district court cases.

Many of the individuals who watched these first two movies came to understand the danger and expense of nuclear power but they often asked me “In the absence of nuclear power, will we be able to satisfy our need for electricity?” I set out to understand and address this concern by traveling extensively to study how pioneering individuals, communities and companies are meeting their energy needs in Japan and around the world. I traveled with Mr. Tetsunari Iida, a renewable energy expert, and our travels provide the footage for my third movie entitled “Renewable Japan, The Search for a New Energy Paradigm.”

I was truly surprised and impressed by what I found, by the quality and scale of the energy revolution that is underway. And much of this is little known in Japan where nuclear reactors are being re-booted and nuclear technology is being promoted and outsourced. But there is a movement here in Japan too, and a tangible sense of hope in many outlying areas. So, while the Japanese government is becoming increasingly isolated in their approach to energy, I believe that the revolution within and beyond our borders will win out in the end.

For those who are interested,

If you are interested in showing “Renewable Japan – The Search for a New Energy Paradigm” to a group of people, please make use of the following instructions in order to make use of a free online live video stream:

    1. Send us an e-mail to providing your name, street address, telephone number, intended date of showing the film, and the intended size of your audience.
    1. After reviewing the above information, we will then send you a Vimeo URL and password which will enable you to view the film for seven days ending on the day after you are scheduled to show the film.
    1. Please note that it will not be possible to copy the film onto your computer and because it is an online live video stream we recommend that you check, in advance, to be sure that you will be able to successfully show the film to your group.
  1. Also note that the password provided will become invalid after seven days.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

France’s EDF nuclear company is in a complicated mess – time for government action?

11 June 17, Alternatives Economiques, [Machine Translation] Who decides on the energy policy of France,especially for electricity?  The president of EDF, the minister of ecological and solidarity transition, in charge of energy, or the tenant of Bercy?  Perpetual  question that sends a lot of ink and weakens EDF, torn between conflicting interests.

It is time for the government to address the problems ofthe 83% -owned state, which is currently heavily indebted and whose financial situation is worrying.

On 6 April, EDF presented a strategic plan for its future investments as part of its Board of Directors’ plan of multiannual energy programming (PPE) 1 published at the end of October. On April 21, Ségolène Royal wrote to Jean-Bernard Levy, CEO of the EDF group, asking him to review his copy because “the actions foreseen by EDF do not make it possible to respect the objectives of diversification of electricity production set in the PPE “.

Among the points raised by the former minister, the absence of measures or means to prepare the closure of nuclear power plants, such as Fessenheim or coal.

Stopping a power station is not very complicated. Nuclear power stations are shut down regularly in France for maintenance or incidents. On the other hand, preparing the retraining of employees, developing new activities at the level of employment areas, organizing training courses for new trades … all this takes time.

EDF’s strategic plan, silent on these aspects, reveals the company’s will: to drag things out as much as possible. Moreover, it is rumored that EDF would have established a plan to reduce the share of nuclear energy to 50% in the energy mix by 2050 and not 2025 as foreseen in the energy transition law. EDF, but is not in any case in a hurry to revise its
strategic plan transmitted to the State. Why can not the state, which guarantees the implementation of the objectives of the Energy Transition Act, be heard?

For that, it would have to speak with one voice. And that is far from the case. For the shareholder state also has its interests in the matter. According to the Court of Auditors, it received a total of 11.3 billion euros of dividends between 2011 and 2016, an amount that the sages of the rue Cambon consider as exorbitant compared to the usual practices.

This financial interest has up to now pushed the State to support the nuclear sector and to defend the prolongation of the lifetime of power stations already depreciated, according to a short-term vision, which hampers investment in renewable energy energy savings.

But now, things are complicated for EDF, with a drop in its turnover and its production of electricity of nuclear origin. Moreover, very heavy investments are emerging: 55 billion euros in 10 years for the large fairing (upgrading of nuclear reactors), 15 to 20 billion euros for the two British EPRs of Hinkley Point, etc.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Hitachi getting out of its financial risks in construction of new Nuclear Power Plant at Wylfa

Hitachi scrambles to divest UK nuclear risks after Toshiba fiasco.
Nikkei Asian Review 9th June 2017 Hitachi will curtail its financial risk in the construction of two nuclear power plants in the U.K. by divesting itself of the local subsidiary that will build and operate them, the Japanese conglomerate announced Thursday.

The news came at an event held here to draw partners to invest in Horizon Nuclear Power, which Hitachi acquired in 2012 as a wholly owned subsidiary. If Hitachi fails to do so before construction starts in 2019, forcing it to bear practically all the financial risk of the project, it will suspend its plans for the 2 trillion yen ($18.1 billion) project.

Hitachi is proceeding cautiously with its own nuclear energy business studying Toshiba’s troubles in the U.S. with Westinghouse Electric. Hitachi now is appealing to energy companies and others to invest in Horizon so it can turn the company into an unconsolidated subsidiary and is prepared to reduce its stake to as low as zero. Operation of the power plants would be entrusted to Horizon.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, UK | Leave a comment

In Ohio, the planned bailout of FirstEnergy’s nuclear stations has stalled in the Legislature.

Bailout of 2 Ohio nuclear plants stalling at Statehouse, Associated Press, Jun 10, 2017 CLEVELAND – A proposed bailout for Ohio’s two nuclear power plants that would lead to rate increases for FirstEnergy customers appears to be stalled in the Legislature.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment