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Court orders TEPCO to pay damages, but dismissed claims against the government

Tepco again ordered to pay damages over nuclear disaster but claims against state dismissed  KYODO, 
Chiba District Court on Friday ordered Tokyo Electric to pay damages over the Fukushima nuclear disaster but dismissed claims against the state.

It is the second time a court has ruled against Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. in a suit filed by residents forced to abandon their homes when three reactor cores melted following the deadly 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out their cooling systems.

 The triple meltdown spewed massive amounts of radioactive material into the air.

The Chiba District Court awarded ¥376 million to 42 of the 45 plaintiffs who fled Fukushima Prefecture for Chiba Prefecture and filed the suit in March 2013, seeking around ¥2.8 billion in damages from the government and Tepco.

The focal point of the Chiba case was whether the government and Tepco were able to foresee the huge tsunami that hit the seaside plant on March 11, 2011, and take preventive measures beforehand. Conflicting claims were made by the parties regarding the government’s long-term earthquake assessment, which was made public in 2002.

The assessment, made by the earthquake research promotion unit, predicted a 20 percent chance of a magnitude 8 earthquake occurring along the Japan Trench in the Pacific Ocean, including the area off Fukushima, within 30 years.

Based on the assessment, the plaintiffs argued that, with the plant standing on ground roughly 10 meters above sea level, a tsunami higher than that level striking the plant could have been predicted.

They claimed the disaster was therefore preventable by placing emergency generators on higher ground, and that the government should have made Tepco take such measures by exercising its regulatory powers.

The government and Tepco, for their part, claimed the assessment was not established knowledge, and that even if they had foreseen a tsunami higher than the elevation of the plant and taken measures against it, they cannot be held liable as the actual tsunami was much higher, at around 15.5 meters.

The government also argued that it obtained regulatory powers to force Tepco to take anti-flooding measures only after a legislative change following the disaster.

In Friday’s ruling, the court found the state not liable, saying that while the government indeed has such powers, not exercising them was not too unreasonable.

The Chiba case is among around 30 similar lawsuits brought by groups of people forced to evacuate by the nuclear disaster.

In March, the Maebashi District Court in Gunma recognized negligence on the part of not just Tepco, but also the government, saying they were able to foresee a tsunami high enough to inundate the plant.

At the time, it was the first such ruling issued among around 30 similar suits and the first to rule in favor of plaintiffs.

The Maebashi court acknowledged the state had regulatory authority over Tepco even before 3/11, noting that “failing to exercise it is strikingly irrational and illegal.”

But because the court awarded to 62 of 137 plaintiffs a total of ¥38.55 million in damages — far less than the ¥1.5 billion sought in total — many of the plaintiffs have appealed the district court decision.

In the Chiba suit, the 45 plaintiffs, including four who evacuated voluntarily, sought ¥20 million each in compensation for their evacuations and the loss of their hometowns, jobs and personal relationships because their lives were uprooted.

The magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck northeastern Japan on March 11, 2011, causing multiple meltdowns and hydrogen blasts at the nuclear plant.

As of the end of August 2017, around 55,000 people who lived in Fukushima Prefecture at the time of the disaster remained at the locations where they evacuated, both within and outside the prefecture.

September 23, 2017 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

President Donald Trump at United Nations – an embarrassment to America?

President Trump at the United Nations: Editorial Board Roundtable, Cleveland,com 22 Sept 17 

“…………The reception to Trump’s speech fell along political lines. Nile Gardiner, an analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, told CNN that it was a “groundbreaking speech,” while Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California panned it as “missing an opportunity” to deal with North Korea.

So was Trump on the mark? The edtorial board roundtable offers its opinions and we wait to hear yours in the comments.

Sharon Broussard, chief editorial writer,

If only every international problem could be solved by flicking a red button and unilaterally turning belligerent nations into a pile of radioactive rubble. They can’t be. The world does better when nations work together. The path forward is slow, frustrating, often annoying diplomacy with our allies — and our enemies. Trump’s bluster is dangerous.

Thomas Suddes, editorial writer:

The speech was an embarrassment to our country.

Ted Diadiun, editorial board member:

There’s nothing wrong with a nationalist approach from a U.S. president. Donald Trump was elected at least in part by people who were weary of eight years of Barack Obama’s “Blame America First” posturing. As for the rest of Trump’s speech, the only thing more troubling than believing he is descending to schoolyard belligerence in threatening something he has no intention of carrying out — is that he is not.

Elizabeth Sullivan, director of opinion,

President Trump isn’t putting America first when his rhetoric and actions push us toward war with a nuclear-armed state. ……..

September 23, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Harsh humanitarian effect of sanctions on North Korea – but they could be ineffective anyway

Tighter sanctions on North Korea could have a harsh humanitarian impact The Conversation Donald Trump has announced even more sanctions on North Korea, this time targeting anyone who does business there. His move comes hot on the heels of UN Security Council Resolution 2375, passed in response to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, which marks a new stage in the world’s attempts to squeeze the Pyongyang government.

The resolution takes what was already a tough sanctions regime focused on nuclear and military-related trade and tries to exert broader pressure on the country’s economy, embargoing North Korean textile exports, capping the dispatch of additional North Korean workers overseas, and limiting exports of refined petroleum and crude oil to North Korea.

The US mission to the UN claimed that these measures amount to the “strongest sanctions ever”. But the measures contained within sit at odds with a claim made in the resolution’s article 26, namely that the measures “are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the civilian population of the DPRK”………

Hit hard

Restricting North Korean energy imports, for one, cannot but have an impact on the North Korean people themselves. A recent report by the Nautilius Institute argues that the military is likely to have access to considerable stockpiles of oil, even as ordinary North Korean citizens do not.

Similarly, the textile sector is a significant provider of jobs: the most recent North Korean census in 2008 showed that nearly 400,000 workers were employed in the textile manufacturing sector – and that was before the rapid growth of Chinese outsourcing to the North……….

Tipping the balance

Because North Korea is the world’s lowest-spending nuclear state, the level of economic stress needed to halt funding to the country’s nuclear weapons programme probably cannot be applied without severe human costs. There is also no guarantee that even extreme levels of hardship brought about by effective sanctions will produce a popular North Korean revolution. During the mass starvation of the 1990s, for example, there were no recorded incidents of significant civil unrest and the regime seemed resilient……..

Tipping the balance

Because North Korea is the world’s lowest-spending nuclear state, the level of economic stress needed to halt funding to the country’s nuclear weapons programme probably cannot be applied without severe human costs. There is also no guarantee that even extreme levels of hardship brought about by effective sanctions will produce a popular North Korean revolution. During the mass starvation of the 1990s, for example, there were no recorded incidents of significant civil unrest and the regime seemed resilient…….

To be sure, not all sanctions are ill-advised. But as the scope of multilateral sanctions is extended to target everyday North Koreans’ livelihoods, it’s crucial to ask whether this approach is likely to succeed. Given just how resilient the North Korean regime has so far been in the face of intense international pressure, the chances seem slim.

September 23, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations says that Trump’s threats are “common sense”

Nikki Haley: It Was ‘Common Sense’ for Trump to Threaten to ‘Totally Destroy’ North Korea,  BY WILLIAM STEAKIN U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Thursday defended President Donald Trump’s controversial threat to “totally destroy” North Korea, if needed.

“That’s just common sense,” Haley said, responding to a question on what Trump meant by the comment. “We don’t want war. That’s the last thing anyone wants. We don’t want loss of life.”

Trump turned heads during his first address to the United Nations on Tuesday, calling Kim Jong Un “Rocket Man” and saying if pushed to defend itself or our allies the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.”

However, the ambassador echoed the president’s remarks during a press briefing Thursday, saying that if the rogue nation were to attack the U.S. or one of its allies, “The U.S. will respond. Period.”

Haley added the new sanctions announced earlier in the day against North Korea were the latest attempt at a diplomatic solution and push for them to come to the negotiating table: “Until then, that’s just the reality. If they were to strike the United States, of course, we would have to respond back.”

The president signed an executive order Thursday placing new sanctions on the Kim Jong Un-led nation. “A new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind,” Trump said while announcing the order.

September 23, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Hawaii’s preparations for nuclear attack – in secret, to avoid public panic

HAWAII READYING FOR NUCLEAR ATTACK IN SECRET MEETING TO AVOID PANIC, NewsWeek, BY CHRISTAL HAYES The state of Hawaii prepped for a nuclear attack in a meeting this week, but wouldn’t allow the public to attend and kicked out a photojournalist who snapped a picture.

Dozens of lawmakers met behind closed doors and talked about how to ready the state for an attack, including planned tests of alarms that would notify people they had 12 to 15 minutes to seek shelter, according to the Honolulu Civil Beat.

The presentation given at the meeting was marked “for official use only” and showed where North Korea could target and how bad the impact would be, Hawaii Representative Gene Ward told the news organization.

Ward added that officials don’t “want to spook any of the public”—which includes 1.4 million residents and 8 million tourists who visit the state annually.

Hawaii has been preparing for an attack for months, as military experts estimate a missile would take 20 minutes to reach the island from North Korea.

Hawaii Emergency Management Agency officials have said the chances of a nuclear attack are still “extremely small,” but the “unpredictable leadership” of North Korea means they should be prepared. They plan to have a public meeting and will start testing the attack alarms in November, but there are no plans to build any fallout shelters……..

September 23, 2017 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump putting in peril the future of an entire generation – Leonardo Di Caprio

The Oscar winner, 42, met with then-president-elect Trump, 71, in December, only to have the POTUS disregard their conversation once he took office.

“We presented him with a comprehensive plan to tackle climate change, while also simultaneously harnessing the economic potential of green jobs,” DiCaprio recalled at the Yale Climate Conference on Tuesday (via The Hartford Courant). “We talked about how the United States has the potential to lead the world in clean-energy manufacturing and research and development.”

Once in office, Trump pledged to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, which regulates greenhouse emissions, and appointed climate change skeptic Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

The moves left staunch environmentalist DiCaprio nonplussed.

“We should not have people in office who do not believe in facts and truths and modern science that are able to manipulate and risk the entire future of this entire generation,” he fumed. “We are at that turning point right now, and we are going to look back at this point in history, and frankly this administration, and certain people are going to be vilified for not taking action. They really are. And it’s up to this generation, it’s up to all of you to get involved and make a difference.”

September 23, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017 now available

A status report on a troubled nuclear industry, By John Mecklin, 21 Sept 17

This year’s version of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report (WNISR) is out, and its message is not a happy one for nuclear power proponents. As former Tennessee Valley Authority chairman S. David Freeman notes in a foreword, “The report makes clear, in telling detail, that the debate is over. Nuclear power has been eclipsed by the sun and the wind. These renewable, free-fuel sources are no longer a dream or a projection—they are a reality [and] are replacing nuclear as the preferred choice for new power plants worldwide.”

As in previous years, the report—coordinated by Paris-based independent nuclear consultant Mycle Schneider—provides an almost-daunting array of data on almost every aspect of nuclear power plant construction and operation. This year’s report also includes an assessment of what it calls “the financial crisis of the nuclear sector,” a status update on the Fukushima nuclear situation, and a chapter that compares investments in, capacity of, and generation from nuclear, solar, and wind energy installations on a worldwide basis.

Doubtless, nuclear power supporters will argue against some (and perhaps many) of the conclusions that Schneider and co-author Antony Froggatt express in the report. But the data the report presents—data underlying the Global Nuclear Power Database, an interactive visualization that the WNISR developed for the Bulletin—are truly comprehensive. Anyone interested in nuclear power will likely find the report worth at least a first look, and probably a second and third.

September 23, 2017 Posted by | resources - print | Leave a comment

French Resistance to Nuclear Dump

Radiation Free Lakeland 21st Sept 2017, French Resistance to Nuclear Dump – the Nuclear Mafia Want to Dump
Radioactive Waste at Bure and they are using Violence to do it. Message
recieved from fellow campaigners in Bure, France fighting a geological
nuclear dump. The industry is desperate to get shot of its wastes.
Violating human rights in every way.

September 23, 2017 Posted by | France, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Why is Niger still losing out to Areva?

 Extract-a-fact,  By Quentin Parrinello 18th Sept 2017, In 2014, Niger announced it had successfully renegotiated uranium
extraction contracts with French state-owned company Areva to secure a
greater share of the wealth deriving from their uranium resources.

Three years later, an analysis carried out by Oxfam based on data released by
Areva calls into question the benefits for Niger in the contract

September 23, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, France, Niger, politics international | Leave a comment

Trump making America Dangerous Again, with relentless dismantling of safety laws

MAKE AMERICA DANGEROUS AGAIN   Trump is dismantling rules and laws protecting millions of Americans. Here are the most important. QUARTZ,  BY Heather Timmons   22 Sept 17  Between the White House’s revolving-door staffing, president Donald Trump’s pugilistic approach to foreign and domestic policy, and Congress’s gridlock over almost everything, you might assume there’s not a whole lot being accomplished in Washington DC.

But in reality, the Trump administration is changing many of the nitty-gritty but vital things the federal government does that affect the quality of life of anyone living or working in the United States. As became clear during Trump’s first 100 days, the administration is systematically dismantling consumer, labor, and environmental protections, as well as de-funding studies that might make the case for new rules. In July it said that it plans to suspend, discontinue, or change 860 rules and regulations, many of which were proposed at the tail-end of Barack Obama’s presidency.

A new onslaught may be on the way. Yesterday (Sept. 21), Trump appointed a new head of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC): Dana Baiocco, a lawyer who built her career on defending companies against lawsuits on asbestos deaths and airline crashes. The commission’s former head, Eliot Kaye, had refused to follow an early White House order to eliminate two regulations for every new one passed, because it “would be counter to our safety mission.” If Trump’s past appointees are an indicator, Baiocco, who starts her new job on Oct. 27, is less likely to have such qualms……..

As the changes pile up, we’re keeping track of what’s been rolled back and what seems in danger of being weakened or eliminated. Here are the most important changes so far.

Worker protections…..

Fair wages…….

Health and safety……..

Consumer protections…..

Environmental Protections…….   

Polluting the air. In March, Trump repealed Obama’s “Clean Power Plan,” which required states to slash carbon emissions from power plants. (He did this after naming coal industry-backed lawyers and talking heads to his cabinet.) The plan was crafted to prevent climate change, but it would also have prevented thousands of premature deaths due to air pollution, the EPA calculated, and prevented 90,000 asthma attacks a year.

Heating the planet. In June, Trump said he would pull the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement aimed at curbing global warming. While the change can’t go into effect until a day after the next presidential election, and the US will continue to fund the UN body that oversees it, America’s decision to leave triggered fears that other countries might follow suit. So far, though, the major economies have only reaffirmed the deal

September 23, 2017 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

$2 million settlement over over contract rigging at Hanford nuclear site

Whistleblower helps secure $2 million settlement over contract rigging at Hanford, Thomas Clouse , The Spokesman Review, Sept. 22, 2017 A whistleblower has been paid $470,000 out of a $2 million settlement after successfully challenging what she and government prosecutors say was a shell company at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The subcontractor charged with setting up the shell company, Federal Engineers & Constructors, worked under the huge, three-headed joint venture Washington Closure Hanford (WCH), which between 2005 and 2016 received a multibillion-dollar contract from the U.S. Department of Energy to operate the site. The contract paid for cleanup following decades of plutonium production.

WCH was comprised of engineering powerhouses AECOM, Bechtel National and CH2M Hill, which were required as part of the contract to funnel a percentage of those funds to small, disadvantaged and women-owned businesses.

In 2009, Federal Engineers & Constructors awarded a $2 million contract to Sage Tec. Sage Tec, however, was owned by Laura Shikashio – the wife of former company vice president Larry Burdge. “Ms. Shikashio knowingly misrepresented Sage Tec to be a qualified disadvantaged small business in order to be eligible for” the contract, court records state.

Federal prosecutors wrote that Sage Tec should not have received the contract and instead “was a pass-through front company for FE&C, which performed substantially all of the work on WCH’s improperly awarded subcontracts,” court records state………

The $2 million represents only a portion of what could ultimately be paid out; the fraud case is ongoing.

September 23, 2017 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Scana Corp slides, as criminal investigation begins into $21 billion nuclear power project failure

Scana Plunges to Lowest in Almost Two Years on Criminal Probe, Bloomberg, By 

Mark Chediak,  
  • Scana received federal subpoena related to canceled reactors
  • Utility faces questions on how much customers will be billed

Scana Corp. slid to the lowest level in almost two years as the U.S. began a criminal investigation into the $21 billion nuclear power project in South Carolina that the utility owner abandoned two months ago.

 The U.S. Attorney’s office in South Carolina is carrying out a grand jury probe that involves agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, a Sept. 7 subpoena disclosed on Friday by Scana’s partner on the nuclear project, Santee Cooper, shows. The government asked for copies of correspondence, notes and reports related to the V.C. Summer nuclear plant, including a study engineering firm Bechtel Corp. drafted last year suggesting Scana was aware of challenges plaguing the project since early last year.
Scana declined on Friday to release the subpoena it had received or comment on the one Santee Cooper disclosed. Shares of the utility owner were down as much as 3.2 percent at $55.33 as of 2:46 p.m. New York time, the lowest since October 2015.

The federal probe and intensifying backlash from South Carolina legislators doesn’t bode well for Scana as the utility owner seeks to recoup billions of dollars it spent on the project from South Carolina’s utility customers. The company’s battle to recover costs may become a flash point in the debate over who should pay for nuclear power projects that have failed to be built across the U.S. in the past decade…….

September 23, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Russia’s mysterious move to wind energy production in Africa, despite its claims about nuclear power

Nuclear agenda in Africa under spotlight, as Rosatom launches wind energy firm, fin 24,Sep 22 2017   Matthew le Cordeur Cape Town – Russia’s nuclear agenda in Africa came under the spotlight this week, after Rosatom announced the launch of a major wind energy subsidiary.

Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm this month announced the formation a new wind energy subsidiary to manage 970 MW of new capacity being developed, but assured Fin24 this week that nuclear energy is still its core business. The firm, NovaWind, will start with a capital backing of about R255bn, according to Wind Power Monthly.

Rosatom is a frontrunner in South Africa’s stalled 9.6 GW nuclear new build programme, which many expect it will win. Various other countries in Africa have shown interest or signed deals for Rosatom’s nuclear reactors. Showing how serious it is about turning Africa into a nuclear energy powerhouse, the firm has an established office in Johannesburg.

With its focus on selling nuclear reactors in Africa, it is curious that the firm is moving into the wind sector, according to Russian environmental policy expert Vladimir Slivyak.

Slivyak, addressing a gathering in Cape Town this week, said he believes Rosatom is looking to increase its focus on the lucrative wind sector. His reasoning was the lack of money in Russia and the need to develop projects outside the country to bring in much-need revenue. With the West moving to wind energy, it made sense to develop this industry, Slivyak explained.

He said it was therefore concerning that Rosatom is pushing its “expensive” reactors to poor countries, which are sold on the notion that they will transform their economies, “like it did for the West”, Slivyak explained. “Why are those same Western countries now ditching nuclear?” he asked.

Slivyak, an anti-nuclear activist based in Moscow, is well known in South Africa for leaking Russia’s agreement with South Africa in 2014.

“It makes sense to move into the renewable energy field,” he said. “We can see that even the nuclear energy market is saying nuclear is bad. The Russian energy industry has started to advertise itself to fight climate change.

“Nuclear power cannot really save this climate change crisis,” he said. “You have to invest a lot of money and even if you do this, you get a small result. There are currently 450 nuclear reactors operating around the world and these were built in the last 50 to 60 years.

“If you take all the money in the world and build another 450 reactors, you would have to spend $4.5trn. This would only see an emission reduction of 6%, while solar and wind energy would see the emissions reduce to 0%,” he said.

“It takes 10 years to build one reactor and several months to build a solar or wind plant,” he said. “With nuclear, you have to invest today and wait 10 to 30 years. With renewables, you invest today, and in half a year you may already get your energy.

Slivyak, an anti-nuclear activist based in Moscow, is well known in South Africa for leaking Russia’s agreement with South Africa in 2014.

.“There is not much money going into nuclear,” he said. “This has been happening for last 15 years, so you can’t blame nuclear’s decline on accidents like Fukushima. It has been because of bad economics and a waste problem it can’t solve.

“If you pump all the money into nuclear, there will be no money for healthcare or education. Then maybe you will wait a few decades before the power station works. If you country goes for nuclear, you will be stuck with it for 100 years.”………

“There is not much money going into nuclear,” he said. “This has been happening for last 15 years, so you can’t blame nuclear’s decline on accidents like Fukushima. It has been because of bad economics and a waste problem it can’t solve.

“If you pump all the money into nuclear, there will be no money for healthcare or education. Then maybe you will wait a few decades before the power station works. If you country goes for nuclear, you will be stuck with it for 100 years.”

September 23, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Sellafield chairman resigns after only half of his 3 year tenure in nuclear decommissioning firm

Sellafield chairman to step down,  The Mail, 22 September 2017

THE boss of a nuclear decommissioning site will be stepping down from his role later this month, sparking a search for his replacement.

Tony Fountain will exchange his role as chair at Sellafield after completing only half of his three year tenure in the plant’s hot seat, in favour of the international company Essar Oil.

Mr Fountain first took up the role in April last year when Sellafield Ltd became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), taking the management of the site away from international consortium Nuclear Management Partners.

Nigel Smith, a senior independent Non-Executive Director with Sellafield Ltd, will cover the role in the interim until a replacement is found by the NDA…..

September 23, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, UK | Leave a comment

Russia launches ‘world’s biggest & most powerful’ nuclear icebreaker

September 23, 2017 Posted by | Russia, technology | Leave a comment