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The week that has been in nuclear news

International relations seem to become ever more complicated and risky. Donald Trump says ” I probably have a very good relationship with Kim Jong Un”. It is really hard to make sense out of Trump’s utterances, and the climate of “new media” makes that all the more difficult, and dangerous. Donald Trump’s national security adviser, H.R. McMaster thinks it’s about time to bomb North Korea. 17 former nuclear launch officers warn Congress about Trump’s power to destroy.

 European powers urge US not to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal. If he did, it would certainly not help international efforts to persuade North Korea to cease its nuclear weapons drive.

The new media landscape allows Donald Trump’s lies and brutal language to be “normal“.

Time for new movies to raise awareness of nuclear bombing.

U.S. and Russia Race to Build Nuclear Weapons They Can Actually Use Against Each Other.

Accidental nuclear weapons launches could result from cyber attacks.

Fukushima Darkness: Radiation of Triple Meltdowns Felt Worldwide.

Atomic batteries, including plutonium pacemakers – not monitored.


NORTH KOREA. North and South Korea agree on Winter Olympics, but not on denuclearization. Chromosome defects found among N. Korean defectors who lived near nuke test site.

EUROPE. European civic leaders worried about dangers of nuclear facilities stationed near borders of their counties.

JAPAN. HELEN CALDICOTT: THE FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR MELTDOWN CONTINUES UNABATED. Bill calling for “immediate halt” to Japan’s reliance on nuclear power.  Regulator urges release of treated Fukushima radioactive water into sea.    Experts anxious about lifting of Japan food ban.

CHINA. China becoming the global leader in renewable energy.  China unlikely to go ahead with AREVA’s nuclear reprocessing plan, despite Macron’s support.  China’s huge bunker for leaders to survive nuclear war

UK. Japanese and British taxpayers at risk as their governments commit to $20 billion loan for Wylfa nuclear project– Cumbria not the safest, nor cheapest, nor easiest place to bury UK’s nuclear waste. Westinghouse saved – nuclear industry must not be allowed to go belly up?- Nuclear Liability – UK government sets out new rules for ‘intermediate risks’Protest opposing USA military use of Ireland’s Shannon Airport. UK Trident bomb base in Scotland has ‘significant’ radioactive waste problem.

RUSSIA. Putin fears that terrorists might attack nuclear power stations, using drones.

FRANCE. The troubled and exorbitantly expensive history of the EPR nuclear reactor.

BRAZIL. Armed raid on nuclear workers’ housing raises fears over Brazil’s two reactors.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Former nuclear weapons launch officers call for restricting Trump’s access to ‘nuclear button’

Nuclear launch officers write open letter about President Trump, amid claims cyberhacks could lead to ‘unintended’ nuclear launch SEVENTEEN people once responsible for launching the US’s nuclear weapons have revealed a fatal flaw in the launch system. Victoria Craw@Victoria_Craw12 Jan 18 SEVENTEEN former nuclear launch officers have signed an open letter calling for President Trump’s access to the “proverbial red button” be restricted amid fears his “petulant mood swings” could lead to a nuclear strike.

It follows a similar letter calling for restrictions on the nuclear chain of command written while Trump was on the campaign trail. One year into the presidency, the nuclear officers say “the reality of this presidency is worse than we feared.”

The president has had ample opportunity to educate and humble himself to the grave responsibilities of his office. Instead, he consistently shows himself to be easily baited, stubborn in his ignorance of world politics and diplomacy, and quick to brandish nuclear threats,” the group states.

They claim rising rhetoric against North Korea highlights the clear flaw in the process that could endanger millions around the world — that there are no checks on the President should he decide to order a nuclear strike.

As former nuclear launch control officers, it was our job to fire nuclear missiles if the president so directed. Once the president orders a launch, we could have missiles leaving their silos in several minutes. They cannot be recalled.

The missiles would reach their destination — whether Russia, China or North Korea — within 30 minutes. There is no act of greater consequence, and it should not rest in the hands of any one person.”

We and our nation cannot abide being hostages to the mood swings of a petulant and foolish commander-in-chief. No individual, especially Donald Trump, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations. That is a clear lesson of this presidency and one that we, as former stewards of the launch keys, embrace with full conviction,” the group said.

It comes following a warning from UK think tank Chatham House that an “unintended” nuclear strike is possible given heightened tensions and the vulnerability of many systems to cyber attack.

The International Security Department’s Dr Patricia Lewis and Dr Beyza Unalpublished the paper, Cybersecurity Of Nuclear Weapons Systems, which said the nine countries that have nuclear weapons often rely on strategic systems developed at a time when computers were “in their infancy”.

The most severe consequence of a cyber attack on one or more nuclear weapons systems would be the inadvertent launch of missiles and/or the inadvertent detonation of a warhead that lead to a significant loss of life,” it said.

Further consequences of such a cyber attack include sector-level impacts, such as in the medical sector, which may have to deal with casualties; disruption of workforces and operations of defence companies or vendors; as well as economic and reputational costs to countries and private companies. Such an event would also increase the likelihood of crisis and conflict.”

The report notes a mind-boggling number of ways cyber attackers could infiltrate a nuclear weapons system without a country being aware of it for years or until it’s too late.

The result could lead to confusion as countries try to ascertain whether they have been subject to a cyber attack or not, how to respond and which weapons to use. The authors claim it could lead to “inadvertent nuclear launches” based on an “unwitting reliance” on false information.

Making the problem worse is the sheer scale of digital infrastructure used to control everything from layouts of facilities to personnel, operational information, communication links, and weather and target information. Data hacks could be used to disrupt missiles once launched and take over nuclear armed submarines, the report claimed.

It comes during a state of heightened nuclear tension following heated rhetoric between the US and North Korea as well as greater Russian military activity and a build-up of NATO forces in Eastern Europe.

Trump supporters claim his refusal to rule out military options has helped achive an about face from North Korea, who is now engaged in a dialogue with the South and is subject to tough UN economic.

However veteran nuclear launch officer, Dr. Bruce Blair, who founded Global Zero to eliminate nuclear weapons said he could no longer watch as President Trump “holds us all hostage to his petulant mood swings.”

Our weapons have the power to destroy entire nations, including our own nation if he initiates a nuclear war. As a former steward of the nuclear launch keys, I’ve learned about the stability, competence and temperament it takes to hold such a responsibility, and Donald Trump has shown us all he possesses none of those qualities,” he said.


January 13, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Radiation problem so serious that Hanford Plutonium Plant demolition has been stopped

Regulators to DOE: No more Hanford demolition until we say it’s safe, BY ANNETTE CARY,, January 11, 2018, Hanford regulators have ordered the Department of Energy not to restart demolition of the nuclear reservation’s highly radioactively contaminated Plutonium Finishing Plant until regulators agree the work can be done safely.


January 13, 2018 Posted by | decommission reactor, incidents, USA | Leave a comment

Donald Trump wants to kill the Iran nuclear deal – but not just yet

Trump’s not killing the Iran deal — yet  But this could be the last time he extends it. Vox, By President Donald Trump has decided to extend the Iran nuclear deal once more — but it may be the last time he does it.

The president announced Friday that he wouldn’t reimpose economic sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, a move that would have effectively killed the Obama administration’s landmark nuclear deal in Tehran in 2015 and isolated the US from allies around the world.

Trump is legally required to decide every 120 days whether or not he’ll put the sanctions back into effect. In his statement Friday, the president said he’d reimpose the measures next time the deadline comes around unless European allies put stricter limitations on what Iran is allowed to do under the pact.

“Today I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal,” Trump said in a statement. “This is a last chance.”

According to senior administration officials, Trump wants to establish new sanctions on Iran tied to the way it handles its ballistic missile program, inspections of its nuclear sites by international monitors, and any expansion of the Iran’s nuclear program that causes the country to come within a year of “nuclear breakout,” the amount of time it would take to produce enough fuel for a single nuclear weapon.

Trump also said he expects Congress to craft new legislation that would “deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon — not just for ten years, but forever.”

The Trump administration also announced new sanctions against 14 Iranian nationals and organizations for behavior unrelated to the country’s nuclear program. Those measures are being imposed on Iran for its government’s human rights abuses and censorship, mainly tied to widespread national protests in Iran in recent weeks……

Trump’s decision to extend the deal is in some ways a surprising move — late last year he declared the deal wasn’t in the national security interests of the US. It represents a tentative win for Secretary of Defense James Mattis and other top aides, who have spent months lobbying the president to preserve the deal. And it prevents, at least for now, what could have been a nasty fight with America’s closest allies, who believe the deal is working and have made clear that the US would stand alone if Trump pulled out of it.

The question is whether or not Trump is actually willing to kill the pact four months from now if the US and Europeans can’t strike a deal……

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

China unlikely to go ahead with AREVA’s nuclear reprocessing plan, despite Macron’s support

Reuters 11th Jan 2018, So close yet so far: China deal elusive for France’s Areva. A deal long
sought by French company Areva to build a $12-billion nuclear waste
reprocessing plant in China looks increasingly unlikely to go ahead despite
a visit to Beijing by President Emmanuel Macron meant to drum up business.

During Macron’s state visit this week, Areva and China National Nuclear
Corp (CNNC) signed a new “protocol agreement” to build the plant but,
not for the first time, no definitive contract was signed.

Since talks began more than a decade ago – when uranium prices UXXc1 were near record
highs – a series of non-committal French-Chinese memorandums of
understanding have been signed for building a reprocessing plant in China
modeled on state-owned Areva’s plant in La Hague, northern France.

The reprocessing of nuclear fuel waste involves separating plutonium from the
spent uranium and reusing it in “Mixed Oxide” (MOX) fuel at nuclear
power stations.

But the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster and competition
from renewable energy are weighing on the nuclear sector, and uranium
prices are down 80 percent from a decade ago, making the expensive and
dangerous recycling process less attractive. Chinese nuclear scientist Li
Ning, dean of Xiamen University’s College of Energy and a member of State
Nuclear Power Technology Corporation’s (SNPTC) expert committee, sees
“a fairly low probability” that China will sign a formal contract for
the project.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | China, France, marketing, politics international, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Japanese and British taxpayers at risk as their governments commit to $20 billion loan for Wylfa nuclear project

Asahi Shimbin 11th Jan 2018, Japan and Britain have agreed to provide the lion’s share of financing for
a nuclear power plant project planned by Hitachi Ltd. on the island of
Anglesey off northwest Wales, sources said.
The two governments are set to extend a combined 2.2 trillion yen ($20 billion) in loans with the help of
financial institutions and acquire a stake in Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd., a
British company purchased by Hitachi to operate the plant. The total cost
of the project is estimated at 3 trillion yen.
It is extremely rare forgovernments to shoulder such a huge portion of the overall project cost. By
doing so, they must share the risk if the project suffers a financial loss,
but that tab could eventually be passed on to taxpayers.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics, UK | Leave a comment

European civic leaders worried about dangers of nuclear facilities stationed near borders of their counties

DiaNuke 12th Jan 2018, A joint letter, co-signed by the Chairs of the Cities for a Nuclear Free
Europe (CNFE) and the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA),
has been submitted to the European Commission over concerns around the
international inspection of nuclear plants in Europe.

The letter arises from concerns raised by the Dutch city Bergen op Zoom, which is located
less than 20 kilometres from the nuclear power plant Doel in Belgium, but
has no legal rights regarding the life time extension of this nuclear

Many towns and cities around Europe are in the same position. One
third of existing European nuclear power plants are situated in a border
region. As such, these nuclear power plants are situated in such a way that
more than one country is affected when security and safety is at risk.

For example, on numerous occasions Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands have
expressed their concerns about the nuclear plants in Doel and Tihange,
Belgium. Furthermore, an internal audit of the Belgian nuclear regulator
Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) from 2016 showed that its own
independence is to be questioned.

In the joint letter signed by CNFE, NFLA
and by the Mayor of Bergen op Zoom, they ask to place the supervision of
nuclear plants not only in the hands of national authorities, but at a
European level as well. In their collective view, creating effective
instruments for supervision shall ensure that the legitimate interests of
the population of neighbouring countries are safeguarded, as well as those
of the people of the country of origin.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, safety | Leave a comment

U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson to attend North Korea talks in Canada

Tillerson to attend North Korea talks in Canada: State Department, Reuters Staff, WASHINGTON (Reuters) 12 Jan 18- U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will attend a meeting of international foreign ministers in Canada next week to discuss diplomatic efforts on the Korean Peninsula, the State Department said on Thursday.

Canada is hosting the Vancouver Foreign Ministers’ Meeting on Security and Stability on the Korean Peninsula from Monday through Wednesday, the department said in a statement.

The meeting will bring together nations from across the globe to demonstrate international solidarity against North Korea’s dangerous and illegal nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” it said.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will participate in the meeting’s welcome dinner on Monday, the State Department said.

Reporting by Blake Brittain; Editing by Phil Berlowitz

January 13, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear Liability – UK government sets out new rules for ‘intermediate risks’

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) late last
week published its position on the criteria for determining the new
category of ‘intermediate risk’ nuclear sites that is to be established in
UK law.

Helen Peters, a nuclear expert at Pinsent Masons, the law firm
behind, said that the changes that BEIS has made to the
criteria are to be welcomed and would enable the government to move forward
with laying the draft Nuclear Installations (Prescribed Sites and
Transport) Regulations in parliament at some point in the near future.

The new regulations once introduced will come into force at the same time as
the amendments to Nuclear Installations Act 1965 which are set out in the
Nuclear Installations (Liability for Damage) Order 2016. These amendments
support the implementation of the 2004 Protocols to the Paris Convention on
nuclear third party liability and the Brussels Supplementary Convention.

The decision on the criteria for intermediate risk sites has been made
further to a consultation in 2016 on the proposed definitions for the
purposes of nuclear liability for low risk nuclear sites, intermediate
sites, relevant disposal sites and the transport of low risk nuclear

After considering the responses to the 2016 consultation, the
government elected to further consider the definition for intermediate risk
sites. It elected to reconsult on the matter in 2017 because the proposed
revised definition was significantly different to the one set out in the
2016 proposal. The BEIS paper published last week contained the
government’s response (12-page / 101KB PDF) to the feedback it received to
its reconsultation. A new liability limit of €160 million will apply to
nuclear sites classed as ‘intermediate risk’ once the legislative changes
come into force. As many as 14 nuclear sites could qualify as ‘intermediate
risk’ sites under the new criteria that has been established, BEIS said.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | politics, safety, UK | Leave a comment

Armed raid on nuclear workers’ housing raises fears over Brazil’s two reactors

Screenshot from 2018-01-13 05:06:22.png


Dom Phillips 13 Jan 2018

Fears over the security of Brazil’s two nuclear power plants have been raised after a heavily armed gang raided a secure workers’ condominium just a kilometre away and blew up two cash machines.

About 10 men held security guards hostage at around 3am on Monday, robbed guests at a party in a private club then escaped in a waiting speedboat from the Praia Brava condominium for workers at the Angra 1 and 2 nuclear reactors, run by state company Eletronuclear.

It was the second incident in a month: on 9 December, thieves exploded an ATM in the Mambucaba Condominium, another security-controlled workers’ village 15km away from the plants, near Angra dos Reis on the Rio de Janeiro state coastline.

Dr Paul Dorfman, a senior researcher at University College London’s Energy Institute, said that the use of “explosives and modern weaponry close to any nuclear plant” was a cause for worry, even if the explosion would not have caused direct damage to reactors.

“There are grave and increasing concerns about risk of attack to a nuclear plant across the world,” he said.

While reactors are encased in steel pressure vessels and layers of concrete, high-level radioactive spent nuclear fuel ponds are at greater risk. Older reactors like Angra 1, which began operating in 1982, have less sophisticated safety systems than more modern plants.

“If someone was to throw a few explosions around you could imagine what would happen,” Dorfman said.

Residents of the Praia Brava condominium, which is controlled by a private security firm, were terrified by the attacks.

“They were stunned,” said a relative of one family that lives in the condominium, who spoke anonymously for fear of reprisals. “Nobody imagined that this could happen.”

Local politicians have called for military protection for the area.

“It is an unbelievable situation,” said Thimoteo de Sá, a city councillor in Angra dos Reis, the nearest town 44 kilometres away. “This should be protected by the army at least – we are talking about a nuclear plant.”

On Friday, Eletronuclear closed cash machine at its four residential areas, the company said in an emailed statement.

“The entire security force of the company in Angra was put on notice, and the surveillance of the Angra nuclear power plant was reinforced,” it said. Security at the plants is overseen by the federal government, it said.

Brazil, Argentina and Mexico are the only three Latin American countries with functioning nuclear power plants.

Brazil is believed to have had a nuclear weapons programme, though it is unclear if it ever actually developed a weapon, and it renounced the ambitions in 1990. Brazil still mines its own uranium and is building a nuclear-powered submarine with French help.

Angra 1 and Angra 2 supply 3% of Brazil’s electricity. Work on a third reactor, Angra 3 began in 1984, was suspended two years later, began again in 2010 and ground to a halt again in 2015 after Eletronuclear officials were arrested as part of a sweeping corruption investigation.

Eletronuclear said it was looking for partners to finish Angra 3 and has signed memorandums of understanding with Russia’s state nuclear company Rosatom and the China National Nuclear Corporation.

Lying around 200km west of Rio de Janeiro, the “Green Coast” tourist area around Angra dos Reis has suffered from rising violent crime. In August, British tourist Eloise Dixon was shot and wounded when her family’s hire car drove into a community controlled by Rio drug gang the Red Command.

Police said the gang involved in the December ATM robberies targeted Santander bank cash machines because they have less sophisticated security systems.

“It is a gang specialised in this type of crime, it operates in other states and it had support from a gang here in Rio,” said Mauricio Mendonça, a detective from the Rio police’s robberies division.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Exhibition honours 60 years of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND).

Telegraph & Argus 11th Jan 2018, A NEW temporary exhibition is set to open in Bradford to mark 60 years
since the start of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND). The Peace
Museum, in Piece Hall Yard, has worked closely with CND Yorkshire to amass
many items that have been used in protests over the years. The extensive
collection includes posters, placards, banners and badges. One of the
highlights of the exhibition is a copy of the original design for the
symbol for CND, created by the artist and peace campaigner Gerald Holtom in

January 13, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Atomic batteries, including plutonium pacemakers – not monitored

Paul Waldon, 12 Jan 18  The 1970’s gave birth to Atomic Batteries, used in buoys, remote radio stations and for decades gifted to heart patients with pacemakers. With a half life of 87.7 years this issue has been described as problematic when the patients eventually die. Neither the United States nor the Soviet Union- the two countries where the devices were implanted- were particularly diligent about documentation, many of the pacemaker recipients and their 200 milligram plutonium batteries simply disappeared.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | health, technology | Leave a comment

Cleaning up disasters with Hokusai’s blue and cellulose nanofibers to clean up contaminated soil and water in Fukushima

Now onto more current news, from an Oct. 13, 2017 news item on Nanowerk (Note: A link has been removed),

By combining the same Prussian blue pigment used in the works of popular Edo-period artist Hokusai and cellulose nanofiber, a raw material of paper, a University of Tokyo research team succeeded in synthesizing compound nanoparticles, comprising organic and inorganic substances (Scientific Reports, “Cellulose nanofiber backboned Prussian blue nanoparticles as powerful adsorbents for the selective elimination of radioactive cesium”). This new class of organic/inorganic composite nanoparticles is able to selectively adsorb, or collect on the surface, radioactive cesium.

The team subsequently developed sponges from these nanoparticles that proved highly effective in decontaminating the water and soil in Fukushima Prefecture exposed to radioactivity following the nuclear accident there in March 2011.

I think these are the actual sponges not an artist’s impression,

An Oct. 13, 2017 University of Tokyo press release, which originated the news item, provides more detail about the sponges and the difficulties of remediating radioactive air and soil,

Removing radioactive materials such as cesium-134 and -137 from contaminated seawater or soil is not an easy job. First of all, a huge amount of similar substances with competing functions has to be removed from the area, an extremely difficult task. Prussian blue (ferric hexacyanoferrate) has a jungle gym-like colloidal structure, and the size of its single cubic orifice, or opening, is a near-perfect match to the size of cesium ions; therefore, it is prescribed as medication for patients exposed to radiation for selectively adsorbing cesium. However, as Prussian blue is highly attracted to water, recovering it becomes highly difficult once it is dissolved into the environment; for this reason, its use in the field for decontamination has been limited.

Taking a hint from the Prussian blue in Hokusai’s woodblock prints not losing their color even when getting wet from rain, the team led by Professor Ichiro Sakata and Project Professor Bunshi Fugetsu at the University of Tokyo’s Nanotechnology Innovation Research Unit at the Policy Alternatives Research Institute, and Project Researcher Adavan Kiliyankil Vipin at the Graduate School of Engineering developed an insoluble nanoparticle obtained from combining cellulose and Prussian blue—Hokusai had in fact formed a chemical bond in his handling of Prussian blue and paper (cellulose).

The scientists created this cellulose-Prussian blue combined nanoparticle by first preparing cellulose nanofibers using a process called TEMPO oxidization and securing ferric ions (III) onto them, then introduced a certain amount of hexacyanoferrate, which adhered to Prussian blue nanoparticles with a diameter ranging from 5–10 nanometers. The nanoparticles obtained in this way were highly resistant to water, and moreover, were capable of adsorbing 139 mg of radioactive cesium ion per gram.

Field studies on soil decontamination in Fukushima have been underway since last year. A highly effective approach has been to sow and allow plant seeds to germinate inside the sponge made from the nanoparticles, then getting the plants’ roots to take up cesium ions from the soil to the sponge. Water can significantly shorten decontamination times compared to soil, which usually requires extracting cesium from it with a solvent.

It has been more than six years since the radioactive fallout from a series of accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the giant earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. Decontamination with the cellulose nanofiber-Prussian blue compound can lead to new solutions for contamination in disaster-stricken areas.

“I was pondering about how Prussian blue immediately gets dissolved in water when I happened upon a Hokusai woodblock print, and how the indigo color remained firmly set in the paper, without bleeding, even after all these years,” reflects Fugetsu. He continues, “That revelation provided a clue for a solution.”

“The amount of research on cesium decontamination increased after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident, but a lot of the studies were limited to being academic and insufficient for practical application in Fukushima,” says Vipin. He adds, “Our research offers practical applications and has high potential for decontamination on an industrial scale not only in Fukushima but also in other cesium-contaminated areas.”

Here’s a link to and a citation for the paper,

Cellulose nanofiber backboned Prussian blue nanoparticles as powerful adsorbents for the selective elimination of radioactive cesium by Adavan Kiliyankil Vipin, Bunshi Fugetsu, Ichiro Sakata, Akira Isogai, Morinobu Endo, Mingda Li, & Mildred S. Dresselhaus. Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 37009 (2016) doi:10.1038/srep37009 Published online: 15 November 2016

This is open access.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

United Nations — Scientists Against Nukes (Zia Mian)

Published on 24 Apr 2017

Why Scientists Should Oppose Nuclear Weapons. Dr. Zia Mian speaks at the United Nations, March 2017.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Fukushima Darkness: Radiation of Triple Meltdowns Felt Worldwide

The radiation effects of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant triple meltdowns are felt worldwide, whether lodged in sea life or in humans, it cumulates over time. The impact is now slowly grinding away only to show its true colors at some unpredictable date in the future. That’s how radiation works, slow but assuredly destructive, which serves to identify its risks, meaning, one nuke meltdown has the impact, over decades, of 1,000 regular industrial accidents, maybe more.

It’s been six years since the triple 100% nuke meltdowns occurred at Fukushima Daiichi d/d March 11th, 2011, nowadays referred to as “311”. Over time, it’s easy for the world at large to lose track of the serious implications of the world’s largest-ever industrial disaster; out of sight out of mind works that way.

According to Japanese government and TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) estimates, decommissioning is a decade-by-decade work-in-progress, most likely four decades at a cost of up to ¥21 trillion ($189B). However, that’s the simple part to understanding the Fukushima nuclear disaster story. The difficult painful part is largely hidden from pubic view via a highly restrictive harsh national secrecy law (Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets, Act No. 108/2013), political pressure galore, and fear of exposing the truth about the inherent dangers of nuclear reactor meltdowns. Powerful vested interests want it concealed.

Following passage of the 2013 government secrecy act, which says that civil servants or others who “leak secrets” will face up to 10 years in prison, and those who “instigate leaks,” especially journalists, will be subject to a prison term of up to 5 years, Japan fell below Serbia and Botswana in the Reporters Without Borders 2014 World Press Freedom Index. The secrecy act, sharply criticized by the Japanese Federation of Bar Associations, is a shameless act of buttoned-up totalitarianism at the very moment when citizens need and in fact require transparency.

The current status, according to Mr. Okamura, a TEPCO manager, as of November 2017:

“We’re struggling with four problems: (1) reducing the radiation at the site (2) stopping the influx of groundwater (3) retrieving the spent fuel rods and (4) removing the molten nuclear fuel.” (Source: Martin Fritz, The Illusion of Normality at Fukushima, Deutsche Welle–Asia, Nov. 3, 2017)

In short, nothing much has changed in nearly seven years at the plant facilities, even though tens of thousands of workers have combed the Fukushima countryside, washing down structures, removing topsoil and storing it in large black plastic bags, which end-to-end would extend from Tokyo to Denver and back.

As it happens, sorrowfully, complete nuclear meltdowns are nearly impossible to fix because, in part, nobody knows what to do next. That’s why Chernobyl sealed off the greater area surrounding its meltdown of 1986. Along those same lines, according to Fukushima Daiichi plant manager Shunji Uchida:

”Robots and cameras have already provided us with valuable pictures. But it is still unclear what is really going on inside,” Ibid.

Seven years and they do not know what’s going on inside. Is it the China Syndrome dilemma of molten hot radioactive corium burrowing into Earth? Is it contaminating aquifers? Nobody knows, nobody can possibly know, which is one of the major risks of nuclear meltdowns, nobody knows what to do. There is no playbook for 100% meltdowns. Fukushima Daiichi proves the point.

“When a major radiological disaster happens and impacts vast tracts of land, it cannot be ‘cleaned up’ or ‘fixed’.” (Source: Hanis Maketab, Environmental Impacts of Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Will Last ‘decades to centuries’ – Greenpeace, Asia Correspondent, March 4, 2016)

Meanwhile, the world nuclear industry has ambitious growth plans, 50-60 reactors currently under construction, mostly in Asia, with up to 400 more on drawing boards. Nuke advocates claim Fukushima is well along in the cleanup phase so not to worry as the Olympics are coming in a couple of years, including events held smack dab in the heart of Fukushima, where the agricultural economy will provide fresh foodstuff.

IAEA Experts at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Unit 4, 2013 (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The Olympics are PM Abe’s major PR punch to prove to the world that all-is-well at the world’s most dangerous, and out of control, industrial accident site. And, yes it is still out of control. Nevertheless, the Abe government is not concerned. Be that as it may, the risks are multi-fold and likely not well understood. For example, what if another earthquake causes further damage to already-damaged nuclear facilities that are precariously held together with hopes and prayers, subject to massive radiation explosions? Then what? After all, Japan is earthquake country, which defines the boundaries of the country. Japan typically has 400-500 earthquakes in 365 days, or nearly 1.5 quakes per day.

According to Dr. Shuzo Takemoto, professor, Department of Geophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University:

“The problem of Unit 2… If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable. The Tokyo Olympics in 2020 will then be utterly out of the question,” (Shuzo Takemoto, Potential Global Catastrophe of the Reactor No. 2 at Fukushima Daiichi, February 11, 2017).

Since the Olympics will be held not far from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident site, it’s worthwhile knowing what to expect, i.e., repercussions hidden from public view. After all, it’s highly improbable that the Japan Olympic Committee will address the radiation-risk factors for upcoming athletes and spectators. Which prompts a question: What criteria did the International Olympic Committee (IOC) follow in selecting Japan for the 2020 Summer Olympics in the face of three 100% nuclear meltdowns totally out of control? On its face, it seems reckless.

This article, in part, is based upon an academic study that brings to light serious concerns about overall transparency, TEPCO workforce health & sudden deaths, as well as upcoming Olympians, bringing to mind the proposition: Is the decision to hold the Olympics in Japan in 2020 a foolish act of insanity and a crude attempt to help cover up the ravages of radiation?

Thus therefore, a preview of what’s happening behind, as well as within, the scenes researched by Adam Broinowski, PhD (author of 25 major academic publications and Post Doctoral Research Fellow, Australian National University): “Informal Labour, Local Citizens and the Tokyo Electric Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Crisis: Responses to Neoliberal Disaster Management,” Australian National University, 2017.

The title of Dr. Broinowski’s study provides a hint of the inherent conflict, as well as opportunism, that arises with neoliberal capitalism applied to “disaster management” principles. (Naomi Klein explored a similar concept in The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Knopf Canada, 2007).

Dr. Broinowski’s research is detailed, thorough, and complex. His study begins by delving into the impact of neoliberal capitalism, bringing to the fore an equivalence of slave labor to the Japanese economy, especially in regards to what he references as “informal labour.” He preeminently describes the onslaught of supply side/neoliberal tendencies throughout the economy of Japan. The Fukushima nuke meltdowns simply bring to surface all of the warts and blemishes endemic to the neoliberal brand of capitalism.

According to Professor Broinowski:

“The ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (FDNPS), operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), since 11 March 2011 can be recognised as part of a global phenomenon that has been in development over some time. This disaster occurred within a social and political shift that began in the mid-1970s (ed. supply-side economics, which is strongly reflected in America’s current tax bill under consideration) and that became more acute in the early 1990s in Japan with the downturn of economic growth and greater deregulation and financialisation in the global economy. After 40 years of corporate fealty in return for lifetime contracts guaranteed by corporate unions, as tariff protections were lifted further and the workforce was increasingly casualised, those most acutely affected by a weakening welfare regime were irregular day labourers, or what we might call ‘informal labour.”

In short, the 45,000-60,000 workers recruited to deconstruct decontaminate Fukushima Daiichi and the surrounding prefecture mostly came off the streets, castoffs of neoliberalism’s impact on “… independent unions, rendered powerless, growing numbers of unemployed, unskilled and precarious youths (freeters) alongside older, vulnerable and homeless day labourers (these groups together comprising roughly 38 per cent of the workforce in 2015) found themselves not only (a) lacking insurance or (b) industrial protection but also in many cases (c) basic living needs. With increasing deindustrialisation and capital flight, regular public outbursts of frustration and anger from these groups have manifested since the Osaka riots of 1992.” (Broinowski)

The Osaka Riots of 25 years ago depict the breakdown of modern society’s working class, a problem that has spilled over into national political elections worldwide as populism/nationalism dictate winners/losers. In Osaka 1,500 rampaging laborers besieged a police station (somewhat similar to John Carpenter’s 1976 iconic film Assault on Precinct 13) over outrage of interconnecting links between police and Japan’s powerful “Yakuza” or gangsters that bribe police to turn a blind eye to gangster syndicates that get paid to recruit, often forcibly, workers for low-paying manual jobs for industry.

That’s how TEPCO gets workers to work in radiation-sensitive high risks jobs. Along the way, subcontractors rake off most of the money allocated for workers, resulting in a subhuman lifestyle for the riskiest most life-threatening jobs in Japan, maybe the riskiest most life-threatening in the world.

Japan has a long history of assembling and recruiting unskilled labor pools at cheap rates, which is typical of nearly all large-scale modern industrial projects. Labor is simply one more commodity to be used and discarded. Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”) of Fukushima Daiichi fame adheres to those long-standing feudalistic employment practices. They hire workers via layers of subcontractors in order to avoid liabilities, i.e. accidents, health insurance, safety standards, by penetrating into the bottom social layers that have no voice in society.

As such, TEPCO is not legally obligated to report industrial accidents when workers are hired through complex webs or networks of subcontractors; there are approximately 733 subcontractors for TEPCO. Here’s the process: TEPCO employs a subcontractor “shita-uke,” which in turn employs another subcontractor “mago-uke” that relies upon labor brokers “tehaishilninpu-dashi.” At the end of the day, who’s responsible for the health and safety of workers? Who’s responsible for reporting cases of radiation sickness and/or death caused by radiation exposure?

Based upon anecdotal evidence from reliable sources in Japan, there is good reason to believe TEPCO, as well as the Japanese government, suppress public knowledge of worker radiation sickness and death, as well as the civilian population of Fukushima. Thereby, essentially hoodwinking worldwide public opinion, for example, pro-nuke enthusiasts/advocates point to the safety of nuclear power generation because of so few reported deaths in Japan. But, then again, who’s responsible for reporting worker deaths? Answer: Other than an occasional token death report by official sources, nobody!

Image result for TEPCO

Furthermore, TEPCO does not report worker deaths that occur outside of the workplace even though the death is a direct result of excessive radiation exposure at the workplace. For example, if a worker with radiation sickness becomes too ill to go to work, they’ll obviously die at home and therefore not be reported as a work-related death. As a result, pro-nuke advocates claim Fukushima proves how safe nuclear power is, even when it goes haywire, because there are so few, if any, deaths, as to be inconsequential. That’s a boldfaced lie that is discussed in the sequel: Fukushima Darkness – Part 2.

“As one labourer stated re Fukushima Daiichi: ‘TEPCO is God. The main contractors are kings, and we are slaves’. In short, Fukushima Daiichi clearly illustrates the social reproduction, exploitation and disposability of informal labour, in the state protection of capital, corporations and their assets.” (Broinowski)

Indeed, Japan is a totalitarian corporate state where corporate interests are protected from liability by layers of subcontractors and by vested interests of powerful political bodies and extremely harsh state secrecy laws. As such, it is believed that nuclear safety and health issues, including deaths, are underreported and likely not reported at all in most cases. Therefore, the worldview of nuclear power, as represented in Japan at Fukushima Daiichi, is horribly distorted in favor of nuclear power advocacy.

Fukushima’s Darkness – Part 2 sequel, to be published at a future date, discusses consequences.

January 13, 2018 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment