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New South Korean president vows to end use of nuclear power

Moon Jae-in said he would lead country towards a ‘nuclear-free era’ following fears of a Fukushima-style meltdown

4967.jpgMoon Jae-in speaks at an event to mark the closure of South Korea’s oldest nuclear plant, Kori-1.

 

South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, has vowed to phase out the country’s dependence on nuclear power, warning of “unimaginable consequences” from a Fukushima-style meltdown.

Moon, a left-leaning liberal who won last month’s presidential election by a landslide following the impeachment and arrest of Park Geun-hye, said he would increase the role of renewable energy and lead South Korea towards a “nuclear-free era”.

Speaking at an event to mark the closure of the country’s oldest nuclear plant, Kori-1, he said: “So far, South Korea’s energy policy pursued cheap prices and efficiency. “Cheap production prices were considered the priority while the public’s life and safety took a back seat. But it’s time for a change.

We will abolish our nuclear-centred energy policy and move towards a nuclear-free era. We will completely scrap construction plans for new nuclear reactors that are currently under way.”

Moon added that he would not extend the operation of ageing reactors, many of which will come to the end of their lifespans between 2020 and 2030.

Weaning South Korea off nuclear power, however, could take decades, and there is expected to be opposition from construction companies, which have increased technology exports under Moon’s nuclear-friendly predecessors.

The country was the fifth-largest producer of nuclear energy last year, according to the World Nuclear Association, with its 25 reactors generating about a third of its electricity.

The former president Lee Myung-bak saw nuclear as an important source of clean energy, while Park wanted to increase the number of reactors to 36 by 2029.

Moon recognised the role of nuclear power in South Korea’s rapid economic development, but added that Japan’s Fukushima disaster – which prompted the evacuation of tens of thousands of people – had convinced him that his country must look to new sources of energy.

The country’s economic status has changed, our awareness on the importance of the environment has changed. The notion that the safety and lives of people are more important than anything else has become a firm social consensus,” he said.

Anti-nuclear campaigners have long warned of the potentially disastrous consequences of a meltdown at a nuclear plant in South Korea, where many reactors are close to densely populated areas.

The public’s support for nuclear power has weakened since the 2011 Fukushima meltdown and a 2013 corruption scandal over fake safety certificates for reactor parts.

The Fukushima nuclear accident has clearly proved that nuclear reactors are neither safe, economical nor environmentally friendly,” Yonhap news agency quoted Moon as saying.

South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquakes, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact.”

He also plans to close at least 10 ageing coal-fired power plants before his term ends in 2022 and to boost renewables’ share of the energy mix to 20% by 2030.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jun/19/new-south-korean-president-vows-to-end-use-of-nuclear-power

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June 19, 2017 Posted by | South Korea | | Leave a comment

Denuclearization Started by the Newly Elected South Korea’s Administration

South Korea’s administration has learned well from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, whereas Japan’s administration is still living in denial orchestrating cover-up and lies.

 

southkoreacu.jpgSouth Korea currently operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about 30 percent of the country’s power supply

 

S. Korea to scrap all plans to build new nuclear reactors


South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-In vowed on Monday to scrap all plans to build new nuclear reactors as he seeks to steer Asia’s fourth-largest economy clear of atomic power.

Moon, who swept to power with a landslide election win last month, campaigned on promises to phase out atomic energy and embrace what he says are safer and more environmentally-friendly power sources including solar and wind power.

The Fukushima nuclear meltdown in Japan sparked by a powerful earthquake in March 2011 sparked widespread public concern in neighbouring South Korea over its own aged atomic plants.

“We will dump our atomic-centric power supply and open the door to the post-nuclear era,” Moon said in a speech marking the decommissioning of the country’s first nuclear reactor, the Kori-1.

“I will scrap all preparations to build new reactors currently underway and will not extend lifespan of current reactors,” he said.

Many reactors are located dangerously close to residential areas in the densely-populated nation, Moon said, warning of “unimaginable consequences” in case of a nuclear meltdown.

“South Korea is not safe from the risk of earthquake, and a nuclear accident caused by a quake can have such a devastating impact,” he said.

South Korea currently operates 25 nuclear reactors, which generate about 30 percent of the country’s power supply.

Many of them will see their lifespans expire between 2020 to 2030, with decisions on whether to extend some of their operations set to be made during Moon’s 2017-2022 term.

Moon, during his presidential campaign, vowed to try to eventually shut down all nuclear power plants across the country, although doing so will likely take decades.

Major corruption scandals involving state nuclear power agencies in recent years and a series of earthquakes last year further fanned public distrust and concerns over the safety of the plants.

Moon on Monday also vowed to decommission “as soon as possible” another aged atomic plant in the southeast, whose original 30-year lifespan had been extended by another decade to 2022.

He also vowed to introduce “post-coal” policy in line with his campaign promise to abandon coal power to ease air pollution in the country, which has the highest level of small air pollutant particles among OECD member nations.

But experts say shutdown of coal power plants could dramatically hike utility cost in the country where coal power generates about 40 percent of entire power needs.

https://phys.org/news/2017-06-korea-scrap-nuclear-reactors.html#jCp

Korea’s oldest nuclear reactor ceases operation

Kori No. 1, South Korea’s oldest nuclear reactor located in Busan, ceased operation Sunday at midnight after four decades.

Its operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. said that it cut the power supply Saturday and began the cooling-down process of the reactor.

20170618000189_0.jpg
Kori No.1, South Korea’s first and the oldest nuclear reactor is seen in southern city of Busan.

 

It was officially decommissioned, with the temperature of the reactor gradually dropping to 90 degrees Celsius, from its normal operation at 300 degree Celsius, the KHNP said. Officials will then relocate the spent nuclear fuel stored inside the rector to a liquid sodium-cooled reactor for reprocessing.

The actual dismantling of the facilities is expected to start no later than 2022. The KHNP expects that at least 634 billion won ($559 million) is required for the dismantling. They also need to submit a dismantlement plan within five years for the NCCS’ approval.

The state-run Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, which approved earlier this month the permanent shutdown of Kori No. 1, said it will continue to check the safety management of the suspended reactor on a regular basis until the dismantlement.

Following the government’s approval in 2007, Kori No. 1’s operation was extended by 10 years after a 30-year run.

Some experts oppose the planned reprocessing of nuclear waste, saying the technology, though effective in reducing the volume of waste, could complicate waste disposal by creating different types of radioactive waste.

Under President Moon Jae-in, the South Korean government aims to close all nuclear power plants by shutting down aged facilities and eventually phasing out the rest over the next 40 years.

http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20170618000190

Korea’s first nuclear plant suspended after 40 years of operation

Built as Korea’s first nuclear power plant at Gijang County, Busan, Gori-1 came to a halt after completing its four decades of service, providing electricity since 1978. Gori-1 ended its chapter in the history of Korean nuclear power generation, being the first-ever nuclear powerhouse and the first of its kind to be out of service for good.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) opened its 70th meeting on Friday and announced that it has approved the permanent suspension of Gori-1, requested by the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) last June. Under the recent approval, KHNP will stop operating the aged plant, and will cool nuclear fuels as of midnight on June 19. KHNP plans to dissemble the plant in earnest starting in 2022.

Gori-1 opened an era of commercial nuclear power generation in Korea on April 29, 1978. Meeting the rapidly increasing power demands amid economic growth, it has layed grounds for the nation to develop into an industrial state. While it reached its design life (30 years) in June 2007, the plant was resuscitated and was operated for an additional 10 years after undergoing full repair and consensus with residents.

Some view the first permanent suspension of a Korean nuclear plant as the first step towards denuclearization by the new administration. During his campaign, President Moon Jae-in pledged to immediately close down outdated nuclear plants and reduce nuclear power generation. Under the recent decision made by NSSC, experts view that the extension policy for the lifecycle of a nuclear plant will be set as “once for 10 years.” KHNP will hold a ceremony to celebrate the permanent halt of Gori-1 on June 19.

http://english.donga.com/List/3/04/26/948991/1

 

 

June 19, 2017 Posted by | South Korea | | Leave a comment

Plutonium found in urine of 5 workers exposed to radiation

94 Plutonium-300x300.jpg

TOKYO (Kyodo) — A small amount of plutonium was found in the urine of five workers exposed to radiation in an accident earlier this month at a nuclear research facility in Ibaraki Prefecture, a hospital operator said Monday.

The result shows that the five workers have suffered internal radiation exposure following the June 6 accident at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Oarai Research & Development Center in the coastal town of Oarai.

They had been receiving medication to facilitate the discharge of radioactive materials from their bodies since the accident and will continue to do so, said the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, the operator of the hospital.

The five, although showing no signs of deterioration or notable change in their health, were hospitalized again from Sunday for the treatment.

In the accident, radioactive materials were released into the air in the room where the five were working when one opened a metal container holding plutonium and uranium powder samples and a plastic bag containing the samples inside suddenly ruptured.

Initially, the agency said up to 22,000 becquerels of plutonium-239 were found in the lungs of one of the five workers, while up to 5,600 to 14,000 becquerels of the radioactive substance were found in the lungs of three other workers. It said at the time that the four had suffered internal radiation exposure.

But the facility operator has since said a subsequent check by the National Institute of Radiological Sciences has found no plutonium in the lungs of any of the five workers. It has not ruled out the possibility that what was actually detected was radioactive substance left on the workers’ bodies after decontamination.

Also on Monday, JAEA President Toshio Kodama again apologized over the accident, saying at a press conference, “The agency as a whole had problems in the prediction of risks.”

He said he has no intention of resigning for now but will take “appropriate” responsibility depending on the cause of the accident.

The agency submitted a report compiling the causes of the accident and measures to be taken to prevent a recurrence to the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the state’s nuclear safety watchdog.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170619/p2g/00m/0dm/074000c

 

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

For Fukushima returnees, security a growing concern in deserted towns

n-fukushimafile-a-20170619-870x577.jpgThe deserted streets of the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, are seen at night after its evacuation order was lifted in this undated photo.

 

Via Fukushima Minpo –  It’s like a dream to once again be able to live in my “home, sweet home.”

That’s what Hidezo Sato, 72, says he feels every day since returning to his fallout-hit hometown of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture.

The government partially lifted its nuclear evacuation order on March 31, six years after radiation from the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant forced them to evacuate.

Now, friends come by to chat at his home in the Gongendo district, which is much more comfortable than where he spent the past six years living as a Fukushima evacuee.

But one thing still bugs him — he doesn’t feel safe at night.

According to town officials, only about 300 residents have come back so far.

Many of the houses in Sato’s neighborhood remain uninhabited. So when he spots a car parked in the dark, it frightens him.

If safety and security aren’t ensured, there won’t be more people coming back,” Sato said.

Sparked by returnees’ concerns about security, many recovering municipalities have set up neighborhood watch groups, installed security cameras and taken other measures to increase safety.

In December, two men were arrested on theft charges after spotted by security cameras.

In Minamisoma, City Hall is installing home security systems for returnees in the Odaka district that allow them to alert a security company simply by pushing a button. As of April 27, about 240 households, or 30 percent of the roughly 770 households that have returned, had the system installed by the city.

The number of police officers brought in from outside Fukushima to help patrol the no-go zone has been reduced to 192, or about 150 fewer than five years ago. The police presence is expected to decline further as decontamination progresses, raising concerns on how to ensure security there in the future.

Many municipalities have been funding security costs with central government subsidies, but it is unclear whether that will continue after fiscal 2020, when the state-designated reconstruction and revitalization period is scheduled to end. The Reconstruction Agency is also slated to be dissolved by then.

A top Reconstruction Agency official would only say it will “consider the issue in the future.”

For its part, the town of Namie is expected to spend about ¥700 million in fiscal 2017 to fund the neighborhood watch teams and surveillance systems. But town officials are worried whether they’ll be able to afford the systems once the subsidies dry up.

Reconstruction minister Masayoshi Yoshino, a Lower House politician representing the Fukushima No. 5 district, said in April that he will consider creating a new government entity to take over the work of the Reconstruction Agency.

I want the government to tell us that it will continue to fund” such projects, said Namie Deputy Mayor Katsumi Miyaguchi.

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/06/18/national/fukushima-returnees-security-growing-concern-deserted-towns/

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , | Leave a comment

Radiation research foundation to apologize for studying but not treating hibakusha

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Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) Chairman Ohtsura Niwa

HIROSHIMA — The chairman of a joint Japan-U.S. research organization studying the long-term effects of radiation exposure on humans is expected to apologize to hibakusha — survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — who were studied but generally not treated by the organization’s American predecessor, it has been learned.

Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF) Chairman Ohtsura Niwa will give his apology at a June 19 ceremony here commemorating the 70th anniversary of the organization’s establishment, to which hibakusha will be invited.

It is believed that this will mark the first time for a top RERF official to offer a direct, public apology to its subjects and those of its predecessor. “There’s an ironclad rule that one must develop relationships with human research subjects,” Niwa says. “But that sort of thinking didn’t exist in the 20th century. We must improve our relationships with hibakusha.”

Established in 1947 under the orders of U.S. President Harry Truman, the RERF’s predecessor, the Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission (ABCC), began to collect data on hibakusha in Hiroshima. The ABCC began similar studies on hibakusha in Nagasaki the following year. In both cities, subjects, as a rule, went untreated. Japanese authorities also took part in the research, following up on hibakusha years after they were exposed to the bombs. In 1975, the ABCC was reorganized into the bi-national RERF.

Hibakusha have said that the ABCC forcibly took them to research facilities where they were stripped to have their photos taken. Many have been angry with the ABCC for treating them like guinea pigs and violating their human rights, and the organization has long been criticized for gathering data from hibakusha but not treating them.

“Officially, the ABCC did not provide treatment, and instead ran tests on hibakusha and sent them home. It’s only natural that hibakusha harbor negative feelings toward the organization, and that they have had such feelings has been made clear from various records,” RERF Chairman Niwa told the Mainichi Shimbun. “I must apologize.”

There are no records of the organization’s past chairmen or other top officials directly apologizing to hibakusha, and the RERF says it is highly likely that Niwa’s apology will be the first.

In a speech at the outset of the upcoming ceremony, Niwa is expected to say something about the ample criticism and protest against the fact that researchers from the very country that dropped the atomic bombs had collected data from hibakusha, and that he is sorry that such an unfortunate period existed. Content similar to that of the planned speech was included in an RERF pamphlet published in 1995, but few people know about it.

As for hibakusha being stripped naked for tests and bereaved families being asked to donate the bodies of family members who died from radiation exposure, Niwa says, “The U.S. side was not knowledgeable about Japanese culture and traditions, so there was cultural friction. But such steps were necessary for the sake of science.”

Satoru Ubuki, a member of a committee for the preservation of historical records at the RERF, a former Hiroshima Jogakuin University professor, and an expert on the history of atomic bombing, said of the upcoming apology, “The RERF probably determined that to continue conducting research on second- and third-generation hibakusha, it will be more likely to gain their cooperation if the organization apologizes.”

Meanwhile, Nagoya University researcher Hiroko Takahashi, who is well-versed in the ABCC, says, “While there is significance to reflecting on and offering regret for the past, the remarks (Niwa makes) must not justify all research carried out by the RERF. The organization receives funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, and just as the ABCC had military objectives, that fundamental characteristic of the organization remained even after the RERF succeeded the ABCC. Among the data that was sent to the U.S. military in the early days of the RERF are many whose purpose remains unclear, so studies conducted at the time should be verified with the participation of a third party.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170617/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Japan | | Leave a comment

A-bomb survivors submit petition for nuclear ban

 

Representatives of Japanese atomic bomb survivors have compiled a petition of nearly 3 million signatures calling for a nuclear weapons ban treaty. The group handed the document to the chair of the ongoing UN meeting on the convention.

The second round of negotiations aimed at concluding the world’s first-ever nuclear weapons ban treaty started on Thursday at UN headquarters in New York.

On the second day of talks on Friday, representatives of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Toshiyuki Mimaki and Masako Wada presented the petition to the chair of the meeting, Costa Rica’s envoy Elayne Whyte. They say their groups collected 2.96 million signatures over just more than a year since last April.

Wada handed the petition over along with a paper crane, a symbol of peace. She said the signatures represent the voices of atomic bomb survivors and citizens, and thanked the chair for her leadership.

Whyte responded that the main purpose of the treaty is to eliminate the suffering caused by nuclear weapons. The representatives applauded her when she said the signatures are very important for the negotiators.

After the handover, Wada observed that the draft treaty incorporates the Japanese word “hibakusha,” meaning atomic bombing survivor. She said she believes this shows the delegates have recognized the group’s long years of anti-nuclear activities.

Also in New York, atomic bomb survivor Masao Tomonaga from Nagasaki met Japan’s UN Ambassador Koro Bessho to relay a message from the Nagasaki mayor, Tomihisa Taue.

The message described a feeling of disappointment that is spreading among Nagasaki citizens over Japan’s absence from the negotiations.

Tomonaga said Bessho told him he understands their feeling, but Japan cannot decide on its own to leave the nuclear umbrella, and has had to make a difficult choice regarding the ongoing talks.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170617_15/

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , , | Leave a comment

The timely message of a hibakusha

Hibakusha remind us of the power of love in unstable nuclear climate   https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170617/p2a/00m/0na/001000c  By Hiroshi Fuse, Editorial Writer and Expert Senior Writer June 17, 2017 (Mainichi Japan) J“I have so many children and grandchildren that I could be put in the ‘Guinness Book of World Records!’” — That was the favorite joke of A-bomb survivor, or “hibakusha,” Kazue “Kaz” Suyeishi, who passed away on June 12 at the age of 90.

Photo above is not  of Kazue Suyeishi, but of an unknown Hibakusha The Hiroshima-native moved to the United States, married and then became the president of the American Society of Hiroshima-Nagasaki A-bomb Survivors. She became known as “Kaz Mama” because of her unique style of talking about her experiences as a survivor. Not being one for lecture-style speaking, she spoke as though she was telling her story to her children or grandchildren.

When Suyeishi came to the U.S., health insurance wouldn’t cover hibakusha living there who suffered from conditions relating to the bombing. Some members of Congress even claimed that states shouldn’t give money to support “the enemy.” On top of all of that, Suyeishi’s husband had experienced the internment of Japanese Americans during the war. However, Kaz herself never once held any ill will toward the country that had become her home.

“They say that today’s enemies are tomorrow’s friends. If people all over the world could all feel love for one another, there would be no more war,” Suyeishi would say. “That’s what I keep telling the children. Even if they think it’s ridiculous, that is my life’s work.”

When I came across the news of her death, indescribable bitter feelings rose up inside of me. The feelings weren’t merely the pain of her loss, but also of being confronted by the reality that the hope for “a world without nuclear weapons” was dying out as well.

Then-U.S. President Barack Obama’s abstract but moving speech and attitude of reaching out to the hibakusha on a calm evening in Hiroshima in May last year will forever be burned into my memory. Not much more than a year has passed, and the world has changed drastically. While the U.S. administration under President Donald Trump has vowed to expand its arsenal of nuclear weaponry, North Korea conducts continuous missile tests, leading the world on a path toward the outbreak of nuclear war.

However, when I think about all of that, I feel this was inevitable. While President Obama looked at the Hiroshima A-Bomb Dome from a distance, he did not approach it and hastily made his exit. While the president moved the hearts of the Japanese people by presenting flowers and wreaths of folded paper cranes to the hibakusha, he moved forward with plans to modernize his country’s nuclear weapons at great expense. The cold truth remains unchanged.

It was Suyeishi who said, “Obama’s pleas will largely go unheard, and even the reach of my words are probably limited by time and place, but the only thing we can do is hold onto love and continue conveying our message.” Still, it makes me wonder just how sincere Obama really was about the elimination of nuclear weapons.

Some say it is Japan that has changed. Although it appeared the U.N. would adopt the Convention on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, Japan stated that it would be “difficult to participate” in it, perhaps because of its ties to the U.S., and has opposed the negotiation of the treaty.

That’s why I sometimes can’t think of that evening in Hiroshima as anything other than some kind of Japan-America collaboration movie. Or was it a beautiful dream seen for a fleeting moment by a world heading for oblivion? To save this world in crisis, we need new efforts and, of course, what Suyeishi always taught — love.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, PERSONAL STORIES, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Second round of UN nuclear ban talks begins in New York

UN launches second round of nuclear ban talks http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/International-Relations/UN-launches-second-round-of-nuclear-ban-talks   Proponents hopeful for final text of treaty by early July ARIANA KING, Nikkei staff writer UNITED NATIONS, 17 June 17  — Delegates from more than 80 countries kicked off a second and possibly final round of negotiations Thursday on an international treaty to ban nuclear weapons, seeking to adopt a final text by the July 7 end of the conference.

“As we enter this final phase of the conference, I am confident that with the necessary political will, we can achieve the goal” to complete, “as soon as possible, a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons leading toward their total elimination,” said Elayne Whyte Gomez, chair of the conference, as the meeting began.

The second round of negotiations will delve into the substance of the draft text. Besides delegates, the morning session also drew nongovernmental proponents of a ban and at least one atomic bomb survivor. All seek to add nuclear arms to the ranks of such other proscribed items as chemical and biological weapons, cluster munitions, and land mines.

“Everyone represents their country, but [we are] united together in the historic commitment that we recognize that we have … convinced as we are of the moral imperative that brings us here,” said Whyte, who serves as the Costa Rican ambassador to the U.N. in Geneva.

Neither the U.S. nor any other nuclear power is taking part in the conference. At the start of the first round of negotiations in March, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters here that she wanted nothing more for her family than a world without nuclear weapons. “But we have to be realistic,” she said.

Impasse on arms reduction

“These talks are truly historic, as they represent the most significant negotiations in the area of nuclear disarmament,” said Izumi Nakamitsu, the U.N.’s high representative for disarmament affairs, in prepared remarks to the conference.

Nakamitsu noted the virtual impasse on multilateral disarmament efforts, lamenting that despite the clear need for progress, “there seem to be no near-term prospects for further reductions.”

Even with blocked international initiatives and active efforts by some nuclear powers to improve and modernize their arsenals in a troubled security environment, she said that “it is important to recall that measures for disarmament have served historically as a means to ease international tensions and to prevent conflict.”

A well-crafted text could make “an important contribution to the advancement of nuclear disarmament,” she suggested.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Climate change, and Portugal’s deadly fires

What impact did climate change have on Portugal’s deadly fires?  http://www.euronews.com/2017/06/18/what-impact-did-climate-change-have-in-portugal-s-deadly-wildfireEuronews, Chris Harris, 19 June 17 Global warming was a factor in a deadly wildfire that hit central Portugal and left more than 60 people dead, it’s been claimed. Thomas Curt, a researcher at the National Research Institute of Science and Technology for Environment and Agriculture, said climate change had extended the wildfire season from two to up to five months.

Curt, asked what role global warming plays in wildfires such as the ones seen in central Portugal, said: “It is a certainty, we are witnessing a rise in temperatures, but a warmer air is synonymous with drier, more flammable vegetation.

“These meteorological conditions increase the risk of fire but also their intensity. We can now see fires, like that of Portugal, which firefighters can hardly extinguish.

“Moreover, during the last fifty years, the fire season, before reduced to July and August, is extended from June to October.”

Curt said on top of climate change Portugal had an ‘enormous amount of combustible vegetation’ such as pine forests and eucalyptus trees.“In addition, the entire Iberian peninsula, including Portugal, is currently facing a particular meteorological situation. It is much hotter and much drier than usual in June.

“However, each time you gain degrees, you increase the risks and intensity of fires.

“As a further aggravating factor, the Iberian Peninsula is experiencing global warming more severely than other regions.Curt also said there was a growing trend of large, covering 100 hectares, and ‘mega’ wildfires, affecting more than 1,000 hectares. “It is really a growing problem all over the world and especially in Mediterranean Europe,” he added.

“They are still rare, accounting for only 2-3 percent of the fires, but are responsible for three-quarters of the burned areas.The different analyses of climate change show that these great fires will become more and more probable.”

June 19, 2017 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bomb survivors present petition to United Nations meeting

A-bomb survivors submit petition for nuclear ban https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170617_15/ Representatives of Japanese atomic bomb survivors have compiled a petition of nearly 3 million signatures calling for a nuclear weapons ban treaty. The group handed the document to the chair of the ongoing UN meeting on the convention.

The second round of negotiations aimed at concluding the world’s first-ever nuclear weapons ban treaty started on Thursday at UN headquarters in New York.

On the second day of talks on Friday, representatives of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Toshiyuki Mimaki and Masako Wada presented the petition to the chair of the meeting, Costa Rica’s envoy Elayne Whyte. They say their groups collected 2.96 million signatures over just more than a year since last April.

Wada handed the petition over along with a paper crane, a symbol of peace. She said the signatures represent the voices of atomic bomb survivors and citizens, and thanked the chair for her leadership.

Whyte responded that the main purpose of the treaty is to eliminate the suffering caused by nuclear weapons. The representatives applauded her when she said the signatures are very important for the negotiators.

After the handover, Wada observed that the draft treaty incorporates the Japanese word “hibakusha,” meaning atomic bombing survivor. She said she believes this shows the delegates have recognized the group’s long years of anti-nuclear activities.

Also in New York, atomic bomb survivor Masao Tomonaga from Nagasaki met Japan’s UN Ambassador Koro Bessho to relay a message from the Nagasaki mayor, Tomihisa Taue.

The message described a feeling of disappointment that is spreading among Nagasaki citizens over Japan’s absence from the negotiations.

Tomonaga said Bessho told him he understands their feeling, but Japan cannot decide on its own to leave the nuclear umbrella, and has had to make a difficult choice regarding the ongoing talks.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New Yorlk March for nuclear ban treaty included Atomic bomb survivors

A-bomb victims join NYC rally for ban on nuke weapons at U.N. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201706180031.html, By KEITA MANO/ Staff Writer June 18, 2017, NEW YORK–Shouting “No More Hiroshima, No More Nagasaki,” hundreds of demonstrators marched through a downpour in New York City on June 17, calling for a treaty to ban nuclear weapons under negotiations at the United Nations.

Atomic bomb survivors and others took turns giving speeches when they arrived at the square near the United Nations headquarters. The 1.5-kilometer march was organized by the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Elayne Whyte, Costa Rica’s ambassador who is chairing the negotiations, pledged to strive toward the establishment of the treaty, while expressing gratitude toward the 3 million signatures collected in a campaign by atomic bomb survivors to highlight the importance of the U.N. talks.

Hibakusha survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki traveled to New York to coincide with the negotiations and handed the signatures to Whyte at the U.N. headquarters the previous day.

Toshiyuki Mimaki, 75, a hibakusha from Hiroshima, said he was touched by the participation of so many people in the march.

“Despite the heavy rain, a large number of people came and shouted Hiroshima and Nagasaki together,” said Mimaki. “I am so happy and grateful.”

Rallies were also held across Japan on June 17 to coincide with the New York City march.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Media coverage of Ukraine dictated by USA political interests?

It also remains a question why the U.S. mainstream media feels that it must protect the American people from alternative views even as the risks of nuclear confrontation escalate.

Why Don’t the U.S. Mainstream Media Report Vladimir Putin’s Take on the Ukraine Crisis? http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_doesnt_mainstream_media_report_putins_take_on_ukraine_20170614 By Robert Parry / ConsortiumnewsA prime example of how today’s mainstream media paradigm works in the U.S. is the case of Ukraine, where Americans have been shielded from evidence that the 2014 ouster of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych was a U.S.-supported coup d’etat spearheaded by violent neo-Nazi extremists.

As The New York Times has instructed us, there was no coup in Ukraine; there was no U.S. interference; and there weren’t even that many neo-Nazis. And, the ensuing civil conflict wasn’t a resistance among Yanukovych’s supporters to his illegal ouster; no, it was “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion.”

If you deviate from this groupthink – if you point out how U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland talked about the U.S. spending $5 billion on Ukraine; if you mention her pre-coup intercepted phone call with U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who the new leaders would be and how “to glue” or how “to “midwife this thing”; if you note how Nuland and Sen. John McCain urged on the violent anti-Yanukovych protesters; if you recognize that snipers firing from far-right-controlled buildings killed both police and protesters to provoke the climactic ouster of Yanukovych; and if you think all that indeed looks like a coup – you obviously are the victim of “Russian propaganda and disinformation.”

But most Americans probably haven’t heard any of that evidence revealing a coup, thanks to the mainstream U.S. media, which has essentially banned those deviant facts from the public discourse. If they are mentioned at all, they are lumped together with “fake news” amid the reassuring hope that soon there will be algorithms to purge such troublesome information from the Internet.

So, if Americans tune in to Part Three of Oliver Stone’s “The Putin Interviews” on “Showtime” and hear Russian President Vladimir Putin explain his perspective on the Ukraine crisis, they may become alarmed that Putin, leader of a nuclear-armed country, is delusional.

A Nuanced Perspective

In reality, Putin’s account of the Ukraine crisis is fairly nuanced. He notes that there was genuine popular anger over the corruption that came to dominate Ukraine after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991 and the selling off of the nation’s assets to well-connected “oligarchs.”

Putin recognizes that many Ukrainians felt that an association with the European Union could help solve their problems. But that created a problem for Russia because of the absence of tariffs between Russia and Ukraine and concerns about the future of bilateral trade that is especially important to Ukraine, which stood to lose some $160 billion.

When Yanukovych decided to postpone the E.U. agreement so he could iron out that problem, protests erupted, Putin said. But — from that point on — Putin’s narrative deviates from what the U.S. government and mainstream media tell the American people.

“Our European and American partners managed to mount this horse of discontent of the people and instead of trying to find out what was really happening, they decided to support the coup d’etat,” Putin said.

Contrary to the U.S. claims blaming Yanukovych for the violence in the Maidan protests, Putin said, “Yanukovych didn’t give an order to use weapons against civilians. And incidentally, our Western partners, including the United States, asked us to influence him so that he did not give any orders to use weapons. They told us, ‘We ask you to prevent President Yanukovych from using the armed forces.’ And they promised … they were going to do everything for the opposition to clear the squares and the administrative buildings.

“We said, ‘Very well, that is a good proposal. We are going to work on it.’ And, as you know, President Yanukovych didn’t resort to using the Armed Forces. And President Yanukovych said that he couldn’t imagine any other way of dealing with this situation. He couldn’t sign an order on the use of weapons.”

Though Putin did not specifically finger blame for the sniper fire on Feb. 20, 2014, which killed more than a dozen police and scores of protesters, he said, “Well, who could have placed these snipers? Interested parties, parties who wanted to escalate the situation. … We have information available to us that armed groups were trained in the western parts of Ukraine itself, in Poland, and in a number of other places.”

After the bloodshed of Feb. 20, Yanukovych and opposition leaders on Feb. 21 signed an accord, brokered and guaranteed by three European governments, for early elections and, in the meantime, a reduction of Yanukovych’s powers.

Ignoring a Political Deal

But the opposition, led by neo-Nazi and other extreme nationalist street fighters, brushed aside the agreement and escalated their seizing of government buildings, although The New York Times and other U.S. accounts would have the American people believe that Yanukovych simply abandoned his office.

“That’s the version used to justify the support granted to the coup,” Putin said. “Once the President left for Kharkov, the second largest city in the country to attend an internal political event, armed men seized the Presidential Residence. Imagine something like that in the U.S., if the White House was seized, what would you call that? A coup d’etat? Or say that they just came to sweep the floors?

“The Prosecutor General was shot at, one of the security officers was wounded. And the motorcade of President Yanukovych himself was shot at. So it’s nothing short of an armed seizure of power. Moreover, one day afterwards he used our support and relocated to Crimea (where he stayed for more than a week) thinking that there was still a chance that those who put their signatures on the (Feb. 21) agreement with the opposition would make an attempt to settle this conflict by civilized democratic legal means. But that never happened and it became clear that if he were taken he would be killed.

“Everything can be perverted and distorted, millions of people can be deceived, if you use the monopoly of the media. But in the end, I believe that for an impartial spectator it is clear what has happened – a coup d’etat had taken place.”

Putin noted how the new regime in Kiev immediately sought to limit use of the Russian language and allowed extreme nationalist elements to move against eastern provinces known as the Donbass where ethnic Russians were the vast majority of the population.

Putin continued, “First, there were attempts at arresting them [ethnic Russians] using the police, but the police defected to their side quite quickly. Then the central authorities started to use Special Forces and in the night, people were snatched and taken to prison. Certainly, people in Donbass, after that, they took up arms.

“But once this happened, hostilities started so instead of engaging in dialogue with people in the southeast part of Ukraine, they [Ukraine government officials] used Special Forces, and started to use weapons directly – tanks and even military aircraft. There were strikes from multiple rocket launchers against residential neighborhoods. … We repeatedly appealed to this new leadership asking them to abstain from extreme actions.”

However, the civil conflict only grew worse with thousands of people killed in some of the worst violence that Europe has seen since World War II. In the U.S. mainstream media, however, the crisis was blamed entirely on Putin and Russia.

The Crimea Case

As for the so-called “annexation” of Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea that was historically part of Russia and that even after the Soviet break-up hosted a major Russian naval base at Sevastopol, Putin’s account also deviated sharply from what Americans have been told.

When Stone asked about the “annexation,” Putin responded: “We were not the ones to annex Crimea. The citizens of Crimea decided to join Russia. The legitimate parliament of Crimea, which was elected based on the Ukrainian legislation, announced a referendum. The Parliament, by an overwhelming majority, voted to join Russia.

“The coup d’etat in Ukraine was accompanied by a surge in violence. And there was even the threat that violence would be perpetrated by nationalists against Crimea, against those who consider themselves to be Russian and who think Russian is their mother language. And people got concerned — they were preoccupied by their own safety.

“According to the corresponding international agreement [with Ukraine], we had a right to have 20,000 people at our military base in the Crimea. We had to facilitate the work of the Parliament of Crimea, the representative government body, in order for this Parliament to be able to assemble and affect actions in accordance with the law.

“The people had to feel they were safe. Yes, we created conditions for people to go to polling stations, but we did not engage in any hostilities. More than 90 percent of the Crimean population turned out, they voted, and once the ballot was cast, the [Crimean] Parliament, based on the outcome of the referendum, addressed the Russian parliament, asking to incorporate it into the Russian Federation.

“Moreover, Ukraine lost the territory, not due to Russia’s position, but due to the position assumed by those who are living in Crimea. These people didn’t want to live under the banner of nationalists.”

Stone challenged some of Putin’s concerns that Ukraine might have turned the Russian naval base over to NATO. “Even if NATO made an agreement with Ukraine, I still don’t see a threat to Russia with the new weaponry,” Stone said.

Putin responded: “I see a threat. The threat consists in the fact that once NATO comes to this or that country, the political leadership of that country as a whole, along with its population, cannot influence the decisions NATO takes, including the decisions related to stationing the military infrastructure. Even very sensitive weapons systems can be deployed. I’m also talking about the anti-ballistic missile systems.”

Putin also argued that the U.S. government exploited the situation in Ukraine to spread hostile propaganda against Russia, saying:

”Through initiating the crisis in Ukraine, they’ve [American officials] managed to stimulate such an attitude towards Russia, viewing Russia as an enemy, a possible potential aggressor. But very soon everyone is going to understand, that there is no threat whatsoever emanating from Russia, either to the Baltic countries, or to Eastern Europe, or to Western Europe.”

A Dangerous Standoff

Putin shed light, too, on a little-noticed confrontation involving a U.S. destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, that steamed through the Black Sea toward Crimea in the middle of the crisis but turned back when Russian aircraft buzzed the ship and Russia activated its shoreline defense systems.

Stone compared the situation to the Cuban Missile Crisis when a Soviet ship turned back rather than challenge the blockade that President John Kennedy had established around the island. But Putin didn’t see the confrontation with the U.S. destroyers as grave as that.

Putin said, “Once Crimea became a full-fledged part of the Russian Federation, our attitude toward this territory changed dramatically. If we see a threat to our territory, and Crimea is now part of Russia, just as any other country, we will have to protect our territory by all means at our disposal. …

“I wouldn’t draw an analogy with the Cuban Missile Crisis, because back then the world was on the brink of a nuclear apocalypse. Luckily, the situation didn’t go so far this time. Even though we did indeed deploy our most sophisticated, our cutting-edge systems for the coastal defense,” known as the Bastion.

“Certainly – against such missiles as the ones we’ve deployed in Crimea – such a ship as the Destroyer Donald Cook is simply defenseless. … Our Commanders always have the authorization to use any means for the defense of the Russian Federation. … Yes , certainly it would have been very bad. What was the Donald Cook doing so close to our land? Who was trying to provoke whom? And we are determined to protect our territory. …

“Once the destroyer was located and detected, they [the U.S. crew] saw that there was a threat, and the ship itself saw that it was the target of the missile systems. I don’t know who the Captain was, but he showed much restraint, I think he is a responsible man, and a courageous officer to boot. I think it was the right decision that he took. He decided not to escalate the situation. He decided not to proceed. It doesn’t at all mean that it would have been attacked by our missiles, but we had to show them that our coast was protected by the missile systems.

“The Captain sees right away that his ship has become the target of missile systems – he has special equipment to detect such kinds of situations. … But indeed we were brought to the brink, so to speak. … Yes, certainly. We had to respond somehow. Yes, we were open to positive dialogue. We did everything to achieve a political settlement. But they [U.S. officials] had to give their support to this unconstitutional seizure of power. I still wonder why they had to do that?”

It also remains a question why the U.S. mainstream media feels that it must protect the American people from alternative views even as the risks of nuclear confrontation escalate.

Regarding other issues discussed by Putin, click here. For more on Stone’s style in interviewing Putin, click here.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, “America’s Stolen Narrative,” either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

June 19, 2017 Posted by | media, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine, USA | Leave a comment

Hibakusha were not treated for radiation damage: finally Radiation research foundation to apologize

Radiation research foundation to apologize for studying but not treating hibakusha https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170617/p2a/00m/0na/016000c  June 17, 2017 (Mainichi Japan)HIROSHIMA –– The chairman of a joint Japan-U.S. research organization studying the long-term effects of radiation exposure on humans is expected to apologize to hibakusha — survivors of the 1945 U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — who were studied but generally not treated by the organization’s American predecessor, it has been learned.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Japan, radiation, weapons and war | Leave a comment

More nuclear mishaps at Hanford are to be expected

Official says more Hanford nuke mishaps likely, By NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS Associated Press,  RICHLAND, Wash. 18 June 17,  — Future accidental radiation releases at the largest U.S. site of waste from nuclear weapons production are likely following back-to-back emergency evacuations of workers in May and June because aging infrastructure is breaking down, the top Energy Department official at the site told The Associated Press.

Adding to the likelihood of more nuclear mishaps at the sprawling Hanford Nuclear Reservation is inadequate government funding to quickly clean up the millions of gallons of toxic nuclear waste at the site, said Doug Shoop, who runs the department’s operations office at Hanford.

Hanford has an annual budget of $2.3 billion for cleanup but Shoop said it will cost at least $100 billion to clean up the highly toxic radioactive and chemical wastes on the 580-square mile (1,502 square kilometer) site which produced up to 70 percent of the plutonium for the U.S. nuclear arsenal since it was established in World War II.

“The infrastructure is not going to last long enough for the cleanup,” Shoop said in an interview this week. “It will be another 50 years before it is all demolished.”

Shoop made the comments after hundreds of Hanford workers were evacuated May 9 when the roof of a 1950s rail tunnel storing a lethal mix of waste from plutonium production collapsed. Tests show no radiation was released.

Then, on June 8, demolition work at a 1940s plutonium plant sent 350 workers seeking cover inside. Radiation was emitted but not deemed at a level harmful to people.

More money would lead to a faster cleanup, Shoop said. But President Donald Trump’s proposed budget for next year includes a $120 million cut for Hanford.

The official deadline for cleaning up Hanford is 2060, but Shoop said so much infrastructure at the site is deteriorating that “some facilities are not going to withstand that time.”

The site’s cleanup began in 1989 and critics have accused regulators of allowing the U.S. government to delay cleanup deadlines by decades, putting lives and the environment at risk.

“Every year that we don’t have an earthquake … has been just luck,” said Gerry Pollet, a Washington state legislator who represents a liberal Seattle district, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) from Hanford.

Shoop said about half of the site is free of pollution. And parts of Hanford make up the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park, where visitors can learn about the development of the atomic bomb.

But Hanford’s most dangerous contaminated waste has not been cleaned up, and the two recent evacuation incidents illustrated problems that could become more frequent in the future……..http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_HANFORD_NUCLEAR_WASTE_WAOL-?SITE=WHIZ&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

 

June 19, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

UN Disarmament Chief says that need for world free of nuclear weapons now more urgent than ever

Need for world free of nuclear weapons more urgent than ever, says UN disarmament chief,http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=56999#.WUbnJpKGPGg 15 June 2017 – Negotiations on the first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons resumed today in New York, with the United Nations disarmament chief expressing hope that the talks result in an effective instrument that “complements and strengthens” existing ones.

“These talks are truly historic, as they represent the most significant negotiations in the area of nuclear disarmament,” Izumi Nakamitsu, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, told the second session of the UN Conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons.

“Nuclear disarmament has been the longest sought objective of the United Nations, dating back to the very first resolution adopted by the General Assembly, in January 1946,” she said, referring to the body’s decision to establish a Commission charged with, among other tasks, making specific proposals for the ‘control of atomic energy to ensure its use only for peaceful purposes,’ and ‘the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.’

During this resumed session, delegates will deliberate on a draft of the treaty that has been tabled by Conference President Whyte Gómez of Costa Rica. The first session was held in March.

Ms. Nakamitsu expressed hope that the talks produce an effective instrument that complements and strengthens the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the treaties establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones.

Also highlighting the need for systematic measures and steps to facilitate the elimination of nuclear weapons, she said it will be critical that the outcome of negotiations “build a bridge to the future” in order to facilitate the inclusive engagement needed to achieve the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

As of now, nuclear-weapons-States are absent in the negotiations.

An instrument legally sound, technically accurate and politically wise

To accomplish these aims, she believes “great care should be taken in finalizing an instrument that is legally sound, technically accurate and politically wise.”

With the growing urgency posed by the deteriorating international security landscape and by the new awareness of the devastating humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons, “the need for progress is clear,” she said. “And yet there seem to be no near-term prospects for further reductions.”

Amid some scepticism about further pursuing nuclear disarmament, she stressed that “measures for disarmament have served historically as a means to ease international tensions and to prevent conflict.”

Supported by the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the conference will run through 7 July.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment