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Court told ex-Tepco Execs were informed barriers could prevent tsunami flooding at Fukushima plant

Feb 28, 2018
April 2011.jpg
The devastated Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is seen in this April 2011 file photo
 
An employee with a subsidiary of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. testified in court Wednesday that the unit reported a need to install tide barriers to prevent flooding from a tsunami well before the March 2011 nuclear accident at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
According to the worker, the Tepco unit produced an estimate in March 2008 on the basis of long-term assessments released by a government organization, saying that a tsunami could occur with a height of 15.7 meters, which is above ground level at the nuclear plant site.
The estimate was presented at a meeting in June the same year that was attended by Sakae Muto, a former Tepco vice president.
The worker testified during a hearing at the Tokyo District Court that the Tepco unit estimated the tsunami height to reflect the latest information on a possible massive earthquake off Fukushima Prefecture, home to the now-devastated nuclear plant.
After finding that the nuclear plant site was vulnerable to flooding, the subsidiary reported at the meeting that installing 10-meter tide barriers would provide protection from a tsunami, the worker said.
The worker gave the testimony as a witness in the trial of three former Tepco executives, including Muto, 67, who were indicted in February 2016 for allegedly neglecting to take measures against massive tsunami. A prosecution inquest panel comprising ordinary citizens has overruled decisions by public prosecutors twice not to charge the executives. In the indictment, they were charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury over the accident.
Lawyers appointed by the district court to act as prosecutors have said that former Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, 77, and former Vice President Ichiro Takekuro, 67, were also informed of the tsunami estimates on separate occasions. The lawyers claimed that the three former Tepco executives could have foreseen that a massive tsunami might hit the nuclear power plant.
The former executives denied the claim during the first hearing in their trial in June 2017, saying that the company would have been unable to prevent the accident even if measures were taken based on the estimate.
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February 28, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

The last thing the Middle East needs is another country with the potential to build nuclear weapons

New York Times 25th Feb 2018, The last thing the Middle East needs is another country with the potential
to build nuclear weapons. Yet that could happen if the United States mishandles Saudi Arabia’s plans to enter the nuclear power business and erect as many as 16 nuclear reactors for electricity generation over 25 years.

The Saudis aren’t saying they want to become the second country, after Israel, to have a nuclear arsenal in the increasingly unstable region. They insist the reactors would be used only to generate energy for domestic purposes, so they can rely on their huge reserves of oil to generate income from overseas.

Still, there are growing signs that the Saudis want the option of building nuclear weapons to hedge against their archrival, Iran, which had a robust nuclear program before accepting severe curbs under a 2015 deal with the United States and other major powers.
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/25/opinion/americans-saudis-nuclear-weapon.html

February 28, 2018 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Senator Ed Markey warns on danger in allowing Saudi Arabia to enrich uranium, reprocess spent nuclear fuel

US lawmaker concerned over nuclear overtures to Saudi  https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/39343667/us-lawmaker-concerned-over-nuclear-overtures-to-saudi/, 28 Feb 18, Washington (AFP) – An American legislator has expressed concern over the Trump administration’s efforts to sign a nuclear cooperation accord with Saudi Arabia, which is preparing to build several reactors.

Democratic Senator Ed Markey, of Massachusetts, says any deal is “almost certain” to require a non-proliferation accord, known as a “123 agreement,” of the type the United States has previously signed with South Korea and India, and which is designed to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

“Previous US efforts to conclude a 123 agreement with Saudi Arabia have been unsuccessful because of its long-standing refusal to commit to foregoing any uranium enrichment or spent-fuel reprocessing on its territory — the so-called… ‘gold standard’ for 123 agreements,” Markey, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said in a letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

AFP on Tuesday obtained a copy of the letter, which is dated February 26.

Riyadh plans to announce at the beginning of March its short list of firms which will bid to build its nuclear reactors.

Besides the US company Westinghouse, Russian, French, Chinese and South Korean firms are in the running.

A nuclear accord between Riyadh and Washington would allow US corporations to export their nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, while tensions are high surrounding the civil nuclear program of Riyadh’s regional rival Iran.

US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up a 2015 global pact under which Iran — facing suspicions it was working towards a nuclear bomb — agreed to curb its nuclear program in exchange for a lifting of sanctions.

Both Washington and Riyadh have complained of Iran’s “destabilizing” acts in the Middle East.

Markey says Saudi Arabia’s “unwillingness” to commit to a “gold standard” 123 agreement “is particularly concerning in light of comments made by Saudi officials and members of the royal family suggesting that a nuclear program may be as much for geopolitical purposes as for electricity generation.”

According to several US media reports, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — the main driver of a more aggressive regional push by the kingdom — is to visit the United States in early March to meet with Trump.

The visit has not been officially confirmed by either country.

Ties between the kingdom and Washington have strengthened since Trump assumed office early last year. His first official trip abroad was to Saudi Arabia, which is trying to diversify its oil-based economy and energy sources.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

 South Korea Urges US Support for North Korea Nuclear Talks

Voice of America, Brian Padden
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is continuing efforts to broker talks between the U.S. and North Korea to reduce tensions over the North’s nuclear program, despite facing reluctance from Washington and Pyongyang, and increasing concerns at home.On Monday, North Korea expressed a willingness for talks with the United States, but did not clarify whether Pyongyang is prepared to address halting and eventually dismantling its threatening nuclear program. The support for dialogue came from Kim Yong Chol, the controversial head of the visiting North Korean delegation to the PyeongChang Olympics closing ceremony. Kim has been accused of orchestrating a North Korean torpedo attack on a South Korean warship in 2010 that killed 46 sailors.

U.S. President Donald Trump responded to the North’s sudden openness to dialogue with skepticism on Monday, saying, ” We’ll see what happens” and that the “right conditions” must first be in place before talks can proceed.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry on Tuesday said it is working to address Washington’s concerns.

“Our government will continue to make efforts to persuade North Korea to respond promptly to the U.S., North Korea dialogue, while at the same time closely communicating and consulting with the U.S. on the future direction of North Korea’s nuclear diplomacy,” said Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk.

Conflicting strategies

While North Korea now says it is willing to talk, its defiant rhetoric, and the numerous missile launches and two nuclear tests conducted in the last year, indicate a more threatening posture. Kim Jong Un responded to increasing international sanctions by declaring his country a nuclear weapons state, and set upon developing an operational intercontinental ballistic missile capability to target the U.S. mainland.

The Trump administration responded with a “maximum pressure” campaign, imposing economic sanctions, along with an emphasis on the threat of military action, if necessary, to force the Kim government to give up its nuclear program.

Last week the President issued new unilateral sanctions on companies and vessels linked to North Korean shipping trade to further restrict Pyongyang’s ability to bypass sanctions, by obtaining oil and selling coal, using ship to ship transfers.

Trump’s insistence that conditions first be met before talks can proceed supports his “maximum pressure” approach, but it also seemed to pull back from the position voiced by Vice President Mike Pence after he visited South Korea to lead the U.S. Olympic delegation for the opening ceremony. Pence said the U.S. would be open to exploratory talks without conditions, while maintaining sanctions pressure.

The mixed messages coming out of Washington may suggest that Trump has not been entirely supportive of President Moon’s very assertive diplomatic outreach to engage North Korea during the Olympics.

“I think the United States government was not completely happy with the degree to which the U.S. government was consulted or not consulted before the South Koreans invited in the North Korean officials and athletes into the games,” said Denny Roy, an Asia Pacific security expert with the East-West Center in Honolulu. ……https://www.voanews.com/a/south-korea-urges-us-support-for-north-korea-nuclear-talks/4272234.html

February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

INTERVIEW:  Niger: “In Arlit, people drink water contaminated by radioactivity”

 This fear is also present in
 The word Areva is scary. It’s a taboo subject unless it’s to magnify the business. People want to talk, but like the Nigerian government, they feel helpless against this multinational. When I was doing my scouting, many people told me that I was putting myself in danger. Here, when you talk about Areva, it’s like a God, you should not call your name out loud.

In the documentary, you show this radioactive dust, poisoned water, houses built with land mines, contaminated food, livestock dying .

Houses must even be destroyed because the clay walls contain radioactivity.

The uranium deposits exploited by Orano (formerly Areva) are poisoning the population, explains Amina Weira, author of a documentary on the subject.

Interview by Matteo Maillard (Dakar, correspondence) http://www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2018/02/26/niger-a-arlit-les-gens-boivent-de-l-eau-contaminee-par-la-radioactivite_5262875_3212.html  THE WORLD  27.02.2018

It was a Tuareg encampment swept by bursts of Saharan simoun. Today it is a city that bears the mark of its development as its decadence. In Arlit, in northern Niger, uranium has been a source of hope since the French group Areva (renamed Orano in January) began mining the deposits in the 1970s.

Many nomads and workers came to this arid region. the workers’ city which was then called “the second Paris”. None knew the invisible danger of radioactivity.

Forty years later, Niger became the second largest supplier of uranium to Areva, but the mining of Cominak and Somair contaminated the population in its daily activities. It is in the sanded streets of her childhood that Amina Weira, a 29-year-old Nigerian filmmaker, posed her camera in front of the elders who lived through the early days of mining. In this film entitled La Rage dans le vent, presented in Dakar as part of the Films Femmes Afrique festival, she shows the invisible threat hanging over Arlit. Interview.

In your movie, the main protagonist is your father. You visit your relatives and tell the city of your childhood. Why did you choose this intimate setting?

 Amina Weira:   Because mine has always been part of our lives. My father worked there as an electrician. When my sisters and I saw him go to work, we imagined he was going to an office. The mine was visible from a distance, until in 2010 we visited his place of work and realized that he was going down into this big hole. I decided to make a film about it. I quickly understood, after research, that behind this activity was hiding something else less visible: irradiation. So I directed my film on the health aspect.

How did you realize the impact of the mine on the health of the inhabitants? 

When I was little already, the mother of one of my classmates had health problems every time she came to Arlit. It was necessary to evacuate it to Niamey, more than a thousand kilometers, to cure it. I did not understand why she could not live here. Later, when I wanted to do the film, I asked scientists and doctors about the dangers of mining. In Arlit, there are many health problems. Respiratory difficulties, cancers, women who give birth to poorly trained children … Small, we saw all that, but we did not make the link. People used to say, as often in Africa, “it’s his destiny, it’s God who gave him a child like that”. It is mostly mine retirees who are affected. Many die of paralysis and strange diseases.

 In the documentary, you show this radioactive dust, poisoned water, houses built with land mines, contaminated food, livestock dying …

I wanted to bring out everyday life, show all the activities of the city. We see the manufacture of pots: people recover the scrap metal from the mine, melt it and transform it into kitchen utensils that they sell to the population or export to Nigeria. They do not measure the danger of this activity. When they melt iron, the radioactivity is released. This is where Areva must intervene, preventing the population from recovering this contaminated scrap metal.

Houses must even be destroyed because the clay walls contain radioactivity.

 It should be understood that in the beginning, Arlit was a camp, a city of miners, then people came to settle, hoping to take advantage of this activity. Today, there are nearly 150,000 inhabitants, including about 4,000 mine workers. Areva created this city from scratch. The workers had to have all the conditions to stay. They had children, it took schools. They were sick, it took hospitals. To build, the inhabitants used the contaminated clay around them. Some neighborhoods are within 200 meters of the mine. The standards are not respected. And sandstorms propagate radioactivity in the city.

We also see women whose livestock die inexplicably.

When we drink Arlit’s water, we feel that it is not quite drinkable, that it is different from the rest of the country. The women talk about Areva employees who only drink mineral water, when they can not afford it. One of the mines is below the water table. Some are therefore deliver water from neighboring regions. A water tower has just been built, but it is not enough to supply the entire city.

 You do not present your film as an investigation, there are no scientists or organizations that support your remarks. Why ?

 I did not want to dwell on the numbers, but to give the floor to the people. Too often, we give the floor to the leaders of Areva. But many organizations have researched and analyzed radioactivity in the region, such as the Criirad [Commission for Independent Research and Information on Radioactivity], Greenpeace, WHO [World Health Organization]. Radioactivity levels are higher than the rest of the country.

What do you say to Areva?

 That they have monopolized our wealth without warning the workers of the risks incurred. They have relied on the ignorance of the people to make profit. The workers live in a city where they pay neither water nor electricity nor rent. There is a certain luxury that keeps them in silence, because it is difficult to spit in the soup. Niger has a very high unemployment rate. An unemployed youth is not going to think twice about offering these benefits. He gets used to this luxury and even if he realizes the harmful effects on his health, he will not say anything for fear of losing his job.

 Have you been pressured by Areva during filming?

No, not at all, it is rather the Nigerian authorities who wanted to block me. I had obtained filming authorizations from the National Film Center and Arlit Town Hall. We were arrested twice, but since I was in good standing, they left me alone. The title of the movie, Anger in the Wind, helped me a lot. They thought I was making a film about the wind, the desert, without much knowledge of the synopsis.
 
Why was the film censored in Niger?
By fear. When I propose the film to movie theater operators, they say they do not want any problems. They are afraid that my producers, who are part of the alternative environment, are perceived as opponents. I broadcast my film in several French institutes in Africa. That of Niamey also wanted to disseminate it, but it has not received the approval of the Embassy of France.

 This fear is also present in the population?

 The word Areva is scary. It’s a taboo subject unless it’s to magnify the business. People want to talk, but like the Nigerian government, they feel helpless against this multinational. When I was doing my scouting, many people told me that I was putting myself in danger. Here, when you talk about Areva, it’s like a God, you should not call your name out loud.

 Has the film been successful abroad?
Yes, it has been around the world since 2016 and has won a dozen awards. After Brazil and the United States, I was invited to Japan. I did not think one day make a movie that would be seen until there. It’s a pride, I tell myself that my work has served something. But I made this film for my country first and I hope that someday it can be seen there.

Towards the end of the film, a group of young Nigerians said, “We have richness in our basement, but all we are left with is radioactivity. Is it a shared feeling?
 
These young people are part of an association whose slogan is “the post-mine”. They say that uranium is a natural resource that will run out one day or another. In Arlit, which exists only by uranium, if this resource disappears or if Areva decides to no longer exploit it, what will become of it? Will the city continue to exist? If Areva leaves today, the only legacy left to them is this radioactive waste. This “post-mine” must be planned now. You have to prepare for that.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | health, Niger, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Uranium | Leave a comment

Record warming in the Arctic

Arctic warming: scientists alarmed by ‘crazy’ temperature rises, Guardian,  Jonathan Watts, 28 Feb 18, Record warmth in the Arctic this month could yet prove to be a freak occurrence, but experts warn the warming event is unprecedented

An alarming heatwave in the sunless winter Arctic is causing blizzards in Europe and forcing scientists to reconsider even their most pessimistic forecasts of climate change.

Although it could yet prove to be a freak event, the primary concern is that global warming is eroding the polar vortex, the powerful winds that once insulated the frozen north.

The north pole gets no sunlight until March, but an influx of warm air has pushed temperatures in Siberia up by as much as 35C above historical averages this month. Greenland has already experienced 61 hours above freezing in 2018 – more than three times as many hours as in any previous year.

Seasoned observers have described what is happening as “crazy,” “weird,” and “simply shocking”.

“This is an anomaly among anomalies. It is far enough outside the historical range that it is worrying – it is a suggestion that there are further surprises in store as we continue to poke the angry beast that is our climate,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University. “The Arctic has always been regarded as a bellwether because of the vicious circle that amplify human-caused warming in that particular region. And it is sending out a clear warning.”

Although most of the media headlines in recent days have focused on Europe’s unusually cold weather in a jolly tone, the concern is that this is not so much a reassuring return to winters as normal, but rather a displacement of what ought to be happening farther north.

At the world’s most northerly land weather station – Cape Morris Jesup at the northern tip of Greenland – recent temperatures have been, at times, warmer than London and Zurich, which are thousands of miles to the south. Although the recent peak of 6.1C on Sunday was not quite a record, but on the previous two occasions (2011 and 2017) the highs lasted just a few hours before returning closer to the historical average. Last week there were 10 days above freezing for at least part of the day at this weather station, just 440 miles from the north pole.

“Spikes in temperature are part of the normal weather patterns – what has been unusual about this event is that it has persisted for so long and that it has been so warm,” said Ruth Mottram of the Danish Meteorological Institute. “Going back to the late 1950s at least we have never seen such high temperatures in the high Arctic.”

The cause and significance of this sharp uptick are now under scrutiny. Temperatures often fluctuate in the Arctic due to the strength or weakness of the polar vortex, the circle of winds – including the jetstream – that help to deflect warmer air masses and keep the region cool. As this natural force field fluctuates, there have been many previous temperature spikes, which make historical charts of Arctic winter weather resemble an electrocardiogram.

But the heat peaks are becoming more frequent and lasting longer – never more so than this year. “In 50 years of Arctic reconstructions, the current warming event is both the most intense and one of the longest-lived warming events ever observed during winter,” said Robert Rohde, lead scientist of Berkeley Earth, a non-profit organisation dedicated to climate science.

The question now is whether this signals a weakening or collapse of the polar vortex, the circle of strong winds that keep the Arctic cold by deflecting other air masses. The vortex depends on the temperature difference between the Arctic and mid-latitudes, but that gap is shrinking because the pole is warming faster than anywhere on Earth. While average temperatures have increased by about 1C, the warming at the pole – closer to 3C – is melting the ice mass. According to Nasa, Arctic sea ice is now declining at a rate of 13.2% per decade, leaving more open water and higher temperatures.

……… “This is too short-term an excursion to say whether or not it changes the overall projections for Arctic warming,” says Mann. “But it suggests that we may be underestimating the tendency for short-term extreme warming events in the Arctic. And those initial warming events can trigger even greater warming because of the ‘feedback loops’ associated with the melting of ice and the potential release of methane (a very strong greenhouse gas).”https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/feb/27/arctic-warming-scientists-alarmed-by-crazy-temperature-rises

February 28, 2018 Posted by | ARCTIC, climate change | Leave a comment

India’s State-owned nuclear power corporation plans new nuclear units, without nuclear waste facilities set up

NPCIL’s stand on spent fuel riles environmentalists The Hindu, T.K. Rohit, FEBRUARY 27, 2018 

‘Asking Supreme Court to grant 5 more years to build ‘Away From Reactor’ facility for Kudankulam plants testifies to lack of technical knowhow’

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has sought another five years’ time from the Supreme Court to set up an ‘Away From Reactor’ (AFR) facility to store the spent nuclear fuel from the operations of Kudankulam units 1 & 2.

Earlier this month, the NPCIL filed an application before the Supreme Court after it failed to meet the five-year time given by court to set up the AFR in its judgment of May 2013. The deadline ends in May 2018.

The State-owned nuclear power corporation submitted in its affidavit that setting up the AFR for the two units “is a challenging task on account of no previous experience with long-term storage requirements of high burn-up, Russian-type PWR fuel”.

As these two units were ‘first-of-its-kind’ facilities, there is a need for considerable intensive interaction with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Russian specialists for technical conceptualisation and detailing of the facility, the NPCIL said.

In May 2013, the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead to the Kudankulam plant to begin operations, rejecting a challenge to it based on environmental concerns and safety.

Petitioner surprised

The petitioner in that case, G. Sundarrajan of environmental NGO ‘Poovulagin Nanbargal’, expressed surprise at the NPCIL’s submission.“How can they continue running the plant and plan to set up two more units without having the technical knowhow to store the spent fuel?” he asked. The application is likely to come up for hearing in due course http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-tamilnadu/npcils-stand-on-spent-fuel-riles-environmentalists/article22861709.ece

February 28, 2018 Posted by | India, wastes | Leave a comment

Energy Secretary Rick Perry ready to make concession to Saudi Arabia – to market US nuclear power to that country

  • Perry Plans Nuclear-Energy Talks With Saudis, Sources Say https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-02-26/u-s-energy-chief-is-said-to-plan-nuclear-deal-talks-with-saudis, By  Ari Natter ,  Jennifer Jacobs , and  Jennifer A Dlouhy  February 27, 2018, 

    Talks come as U.S. considers allowing Saudi uranium enrichment

    ·         Energy Secretary Perry delays India trip for visit to London

    Energy Secretary Rick Perry will travel to London to discuss nuclear energy with officials from Saudi Arabia on Friday as the Trump administration pursues a deal to build reactors in the kingdom, according to two people familiar with the plans.

    Perry scrapped a trip to New Delhi to accommodate meetings at the White House this week, creating an opening for him to lead an inter-agency delegation to London, said the people, who asked not to be named to discuss administration strategy.

    The administration is considering permitting Saudi Arabia to enrich and reprocess uranium as part of a deal that would allow Westinghouse Electric Co. and other American companies to build nuclear reactors in the Middle East kingdom.

    The meetings in London between Perry and Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy and Industry Khalid Bin Abdulaziz Al-Falih are seen as a critical step in months of ongoing discussions over a potential nuclear cooperation agreement, bringing together key deal makers from each country.
    Some American agreements with other countries have prohibited the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium in exchange for the use of nuclear technology, and that had scuttled negotiations for Saudi projects during the Obama administration.

    16 Power Plants
    The administration is mulling whether to ease that requirement now as a way to help Westinghouse and other companies win Saudi contracts. Saudi Arabia plans to construct 16 nuclear power reactors over the next 20 to 25 years at a cost of more than $80 billion, according to the World Nuclear Association.

    The Energy Department confirmed the cancellation of Perry’s India trip but a spokesman did not reply to a question about the London talks.

    Any agreement they reach must be approved by Congress, which will have 90 days to weigh in. The potential deal has drawn opposition from anti-nuclear proliferation advocates and some lawmakers, such as Senator Ed Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat.

    On Monday, Markey asked the Trump administration to detail its efforts to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement with the Saudis and share information about U.S. negotiations with the country.

    “Congress remains in the dark about what exactly is being considered, why we may be re-evaluating our nonproliferation objectives and standards, and how and when this information is being conveyed to Saudi Arabia and other countries around the world,” Markey said in a letter to Perry and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

    Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman is expected to visit the U.S. in March.

February 28, 2018 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Saudi Arabia, USA | Leave a comment

Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, has called on the US to “lower the bar” for discussions with North Korea

US urged to ‘lower bar’ on nuclear demands for North talks Independent ie, Julian Ryall, February 27 2018 Moon Jae-in, the South Korean president, has called on the US to “lower the bar” for discussions with North Korea, suggesting Washington should drop its insistence that Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal must be part of any future talks.

The intervention comes as North Korea is rumoured to be warming to direct talks with the US.

However, Pyongyang has consistently stated that its atomic weapons are its security guarantee and, therefore, not open to debate.

Calling on the US to soften its stance, Mr Moon also said Pyongyang must demonstrate willingness to abolish its nuclear weapons.

Looking to build on the positive momentum generated by the South’s hosting of the Winter Olympic Games, which closed on Sunday, Mr Moon used a meeting with Liu Yandong, the Chinese vice premier, to suggest that the key protagonists should both make concessions.

“The United States needs to lower its bar for dialogue and the North, too, must show its willingness to denuclearise,” Mr Moon said, according to a government spokesman…..https://www.independent.ie/world-news/asia-pacific/us-urged-to-lower-bar-on-nuclear-demands-for-north-talks-36647757.html

 

February 28, 2018 Posted by | politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

Fukushima Daiichi groundwater inflow increased 4 times as much as normal

n-tepco-a-20170909-870x580.jpg
2018/2/26
Tokyo Electric Power Company announced on 26th that the amount of groundwater flowing into the basement of the Fukushima Daiichi reactors buildings 1 and 2 began to increase in February and temporarily nearly quadrupled. There is a possibility that the influx may have increased due to the repair work of the drainage passage passing through the vicinity.
According to TEPCO, the inflow from January 1 to February 8 this year is about 48 tons per day on average. However, despite the fact that it did not rain from February 8 to 15, it increased to an average of about 131 tons. It peaked at about 179 tons on the 19th and started to decline from 20th.
In the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, groundwater flows into the basements of the buildings and mixes with contaminated water, leading to an increase in new contaminated water.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Correlation between infectious disease and soil radiation in Japan: an exploratory study using national sentinel surveillance data

From 16 January 2017
Summary
We investigated the relationship between epidemics and soil radiation through an exploratory study using sentinel surveillance data (individuals aged <20 years) during the last three epidemic seasons of influenza and norovirus in Japan. We used a spatial analysis method of a geographical information system (GIS). We mapped the epidemic spreading patterns from sentinel incidence rates. We calculated the average soil radiation [dm (μGy/h)] for each sentinel site using data on uranium, thorium, and potassium oxide in the soil and examined the incidence rate in units of 0·01 μGy/h. The correlations between the incidence rate and the average soil radiation were assessed. Epidemic clusters of influenza and norovirus infections were observed in areas with relatively high radiation exposure. A positive correlation was detected between the average incidence rate and radiation dose, at r = 0·61–0·84 (P < 0·01) for influenza infections and r = 0·61–0·72 (P < 0·01) for norovirus infections. An increase in the incidence rate was found between areas with radiation exposure of 0 < dm < 0·01 and 0·15 ⩽ dm < 0·16, at 1·80 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1·47–2·12] times higher for influenza infection and 2·07 (95% CI 1·53–2·61) times higher for norovirus infection. Our results suggest a potential association between decreased immunity and irradiation because of soil radiation. Further studies on immunity in these epidemic-prone areas are desirable.
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February 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Drone to map radiation within Fukushima plant

27 February 2018
A small drone is to be deployed to measure radiation levels at the damaged reactors at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The UK-developed RISER – Remote Intelligence Survey Equipment for Radiation – has already been used successfully at Sellafield, in England.
 
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The RISER drone undergoing trials at Sellafield (Image: NDA)
 
The lightweight RISER drone uses lasers to self-navigate deep inside hazardous facilities where GPS signals cannot reach. It combines two separate pieces of technology: drones and radiation-mapping software. Each received research and development funding through the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and fellow government agency, Innovate UK.
Cockermouth, Cumbria-based computing and electronics engineering firm Createc’s N-Visage radiation mapping software project was boosted during its early stages in 2009 by a GBP50,000 (USD70,000) investment from the NDA’s R&D portfolio.
Three years later, the NDA joined other government organisations to invest further funds in a wide range of innovative nuclear projects. This led to the collaboration between Createc and Bedford-based aerial systems specialist Blue Bear Systems Research. This collaboration led to RISER.
The drone is less than one metre in diameter and navigates using its own internal ‘collision avoidance’ capability. Able to manoeuvre accurately inside complex industrial spaces, data is transmitted to the mapping system and clearly displayed, highlighting areas of contamination, its developers say.
The N-Visage tailor-made technology maps radiation with “pinpoint accuracy, producing a high-definition 3D picture of contamination, quickly and safely”.
After a series of on-site trials at Sellafield, RISER was put into decommissioning action. The drone has been used to collect vital information about conditions in the highly-contaminated Windscale Pile chimney. This data will be used to establish how the chimney can be cleaned out and finally dismantled.
RISER was first used inside one of the reactor buildings at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi plant several years ago, and is now set to return, mounted on the drone.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

More Fukushima Propaganda to Come from Japan’s Ministry of the Environment

Feb 26, 2018,
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Ministry of the Environment Cohosts Panel Discussion “Update Fukushima” —

Cheer Fukushima by Knowing It More and Sharing That Knowledge More
 
– Statement for “Update Fukushima” Released from Tokyo –
TOKYO, Feb. 26, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — The Ministry of the Environment of Japan (MOEJ) on Saturday, February 10, 2018, cohosted the Panel Discussion “Update Fukushima” — Cheer Fukushima by Knowing It More and Sharing That Knowledge More –, hosted by the Update Fukushima Executive Committee and held at the United Nations University’s U Thant International Conference Hall (in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo).
While environmental recovery in Fukushima after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake is well underway, the area still suffers misconceptions within Japan and abroad due mostly to the lack of accurate information. To help correct this situation, the ministry cohosted the aforementioned event in order to discuss, identify and share a variety of facts, viewpoints, effective methods and the like necessary to update and communicate information on the state of Fukushima.
The event brought a total of 275 participants into one place, consisting of individual attendees in response to the ministry’s call on the public to join the event in advance, and representatives from the government, Fukushima, education, media and other various fields.
Based on a variety of questions and comments sent in to the Update Fukushima Secretariat in advance, the event took place in this manner: Part 1 of its program featured issues raised by the members of the Update Fukushima Executive Committee and the exchange of views among them, Part 2 introduced case studies on updated Fukushima affairs, as presented by those representing the educational and media communities and local high school students, and Part 3 focused on further discussions on the subjects of “Update the public awareness of Fukushima,” “Continue efforts to communicate the truth about Fukushima in an effective way” and the like, to summarize the discussions into the statement of “Update Fukushima,” which was then released from Tokyo.
On the day of the event, in Part 1: Thoughts on Fukushima Today — Theories, four members of the Update Fukushima Executive Committee appeared on the stage for discussions: Ryugo Hayano, Professor Emeritus, University of Tokyo; Sae Ochi, Lecturer, Department of Clinical Laboratory Medicine, Tokyo Jikei University School of Medicine; William McMichael, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Fukushima University; and Hiroshi Kainuma, Associate Professor, Kinugasa Research Organization, Ritsumeikan University. Mr. Kainuma played the role of facilitator to step up interaction between the panel members and the audience on the subjects of Fukushima’s agricultural produce, foods, environment, health, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and other affairs, by giving some quizzes to the audience, which were answered by panel members, while identifying some of the issues that are actually going on in Fukushima, including “misleading information about radiation,” “health risks in Fukushima increasingly more serious than risks between radiation exposure and cancer” and the “wrong imagery about Fukushima felt by people abroad,” for example. Then, he led the panel members to write their messages on the boards, such as “Communicate it to a wide range of people, as well as to each individual,” “Enjoy exploring ‘what you don’t know’,” and “Kakushin (or confidence) x Kakushin (or the core part of the issues affecting Fukushima),” to share their views on what can be done to “update the imagery about Fukushima.”
In Part 2: How the State of Fukushima Today Is Communicated — Case Studies, Assistant Professor McMichael from Fukushima University first appeared on the stage together with foreign students, who participate in the Fukushima Ambassador Program while currently staying and studying in Fukushima, to discuss how to meet the “challenge of building a Fukushima model for global education for recovery from disasters.” In discussing the theme, they admitted that “there are many foreign students who have changed their impressions about Fukushima after they actually visit the place.” Representing overseas media, Vikram Channa, Vice President and Production Head for Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, delivered his speech on the subject of “Communicating Fukushima in the Age of Social Media” to present a TV program titled “FUKUSHIMA DIARIES” broadcast on Discovery Channel to share viewers’ responses to the program.
Then, representing Japanese media, Akira Ito, Chief Producer for the TV Programming Division of TV-U Fukushima, came up onto the stage together with Riken Komatsu, president of Alternative Space UDOK, and Hiroshi Motoki, president of Wonder Farm, who both appeared on the TV program to have a talk show on the subject of “Correcting the Images of FUKUSHIMA Via TV Program,” and then talked about “Fukushima Today,” a documentary program for overseas audiences, as broadcast in a total of 18 countries, including China, South Korea and those in Southeast Asia, in terms of episodes behind the production of the program and responses to it from local viewers.
NB. You can watch the two programs of “FUKUSHIMA DIARIES” and “Fukushima Today” on the following website: http://josen.env.go.jp/en/movie_publication/cooperation_index.html
The last part of the case study session in Part 2 was presided over by Dr. Hayano who led Shunya Okino and Honoka Ara, who are juniors at Fukushima High School, and Ryo Endo, a junior at Fukushima Futaba Future School, to present their case studies so far made under the theme of “We Explore, Learn, Study and Communicate.” Okino said in his presentation, “I hope people will keep watching us in Fukushima (in warmth and without prejudice) by gaining the right knowledge about it,” while Ara said, “I will continue to communicate facts about ‘Utsukushima Fukushima (Beautiful Place, Fukushima)’ not only to people in Japan but also to people in the rest of the world.” And Endo said, “It is natural that even if they come from the same Fukushima prefecture, how hard experiences they might have undergone from that disaster and how to think about their future may vary from person to person. I hope that you understand us in a more flexible way.”
In Part 3: Cheer Fukushima by Knowing It More and Sharing That Knowledge More — Summary, the four members of the Update Fukushima Executive Committee, who appeared in Part 1, were joined by Takashi Hara, a teacher at Fukushima High School, Ippei Nango, Vice Principal of Futaba Future School, and Hideka Morimoto, Vice Minister of the Environment, the MOEJ, to write their messages each for “Update Fukushima” on the boards before getting down to the discussion.
With his message saying, “Want to update educational trips for high school students,” Mr. Hara stressed how important it is to educate people in the right way. Showing his message “‘For Fukushima’ to ‘From Fukushima’ with the Youth,” Mr. Nango said that young people without unwanted ties or fetters are expected to actively participate in the decision-making process to communicate information from Fukushima to the rest of the world.” And MOEJ Vice Minister Morimoto, with his message of “Just talking cannot get across to people — (need for) group learning,” said that based on lessons learnt from the case of the Minamata disease, or methylmercury poisoning caused in Japan by environmental pollution, it is important to build a scheme allowing people to trust one another (or group learning), through which we would like to strive for winning understanding about decontamination and intermediate storage of radioactive materials among people.”
Dr. Hayano wrote “(All women in Fukushima) feel safe to have babies,” “All” and “Individuals” on the board and said, “It is important to communicate the right information to individuals. Education holds the key but it will be also necessary to take an approach of sharing it with all people in the future.”
Dr. Ochi wrote “No qualification is required to talk about Fukushima. Do from now on right here” and said, “Some of you may choose to keep silent because you have never been there or you may feel afraid of causing trouble if you say something despite not being an expert. Never mind, you may think and talk about Fukushima from now on and right here.” Mr. McMichael wrote “No boundaries, Kakushin (confidence) x Kakushin (the core part of the issue) = Kakushin (innovation)” and said, “It is important to move forward to build a better future and get things innovated in the awareness process.” Finally, as the facilitator, Mr. Kainuma, announced a statement for “Update Fukushima” before the audience before closing the panel discussion event.
Relevant URLs:
Official site of Update Fukushima: http://josen.env.go.jp/update_fukushima/en/ 
Official site of the Ministry of the Environment of Japan: http://josen.env.go.jp/en/movie_publication/cooperation_index.html
* A report on what was going on at this Panel Discussion event will be disclosed at the URLs above on a later day.
SOURCE Ministry of the Environment, Japan

 

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Tepco sets sights on global expansion

26 February 2018
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Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) aims to become an innovative global energy and technology company, according to its president, Tomoaki Kobayakawa. He stressed the company will continue providing strong support for the restoration of Fukushima.
Tepco is Japan’s largest power company, supplying energy to the greater Kanto area, including the country’s two biggest cities, Tokyo and Yokohama. As well as the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant, Tepco also owns the Fukushima Daini and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plants.
Speaking at a press conference held on 16 February at the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, Kobayakawa said Tepco faces challenges posed by the deregulation of Japan’s energy markets, the country’s declining population, and the need to continue clean-up work in Fukushima Prefecture.
Tepco will continue its transformation from a local utility into an innovative global energy and technology company, partnering with other leaders around the world, Kobayakawa said.
Tepco aims to increase its revenue by JPY500 billion (USD4.7 billion) per year, generating a total of JPY450 billion in profit over the next decade.
Kobayakawa said this would be achieved through streamlining businesses and cost reduction, reorganisation and integration of nuclear power and distribution, as well as forming alliances with partners. Tepco will create businesses in new areas, which will create a value chain from fuel upstream to thermal generation and bundling the sale of electricity and natural gas.
Kobayakawa said Tepco’s parent company – Tepco Holdings – will create a management committee during the coming fiscal year to formulate a detailed plan for achieving its aim.
“Our main mission is guaranteeing the delivery of a stable supply of low-cost electricity to customers,” he said. “Within that mission, nuclear power is not everything. Thermal power, the procurement of renewable energy, and hydropower all play a part.”
“Renewables are an essential component of our future,” Kobayakawa said. “We believe we can scale up our renewables business to create a new source of revenue comparable to JERA.”
JERA is a 50/50 joint venture formed between Tepco and Chubu Electric Power Company in April 2015. The main business areas of JERA are: upstream fuel investments; fuel procurement; fuel transportation; fuel trading; replacement and construction of domestic thermal power plants; overseas power generation and energy infrastructure.
However, Kobayakawa stressed the focus on the future will not come at the expense of Tepco’s obligations to its past. Noting the steady improvement of the situation both inside the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and in the surrounding area, Kobayakawa affirmed the corporate mission to rebuild communities and restore the trust of the residents, including efforts to support the sale of products from Fukushima Prefecture.
In May 2012, the Japanese government approved amendments to Tepco’s ten-year special business plan which effectively puts it under state control. Under the amendments, the government provided Tepco with JPY1 trillion in state funds in return for a 51% stake in the company.
In 2014, Tepco was reorganised into two main sections: a power generation business and a separate division dedicated to decommissioning the Fukushima Daiichi site.
A further reorganisation followed in April 2016, with Tepco being structured under Tepco Holdings. Its fuel and thermal generation operations were placed in a subsidiary called Tepco Fuel and Power Incorporated; its power transmission and distribution business became Tepco Power Grid Incorporated; and its electricity retail operations became Tepco Energy Partner Incorporated. Its nuclear-related operations remained within the holding company.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

7 years on, local gov’ts face challenge in protecting 3/11 evacuees from isolation

February 26, 2018
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A disaster recovery support worker, left, listens to an evacuee on his life and worries in Taiwa, Miyagi Prefecture, on Feb. 15, 2018.
 
While March 11 marks the seventh anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, tens of thousands of people who evacuated from their hometowns in the wake of the triple disaster are yet to return. Now, local governments are facing a challenge as they make efforts to prevent evacuees scattered across Japan from becoming isolated.
As of January this year, 75,206 people were still living outside their hometowns following evacuation in the wake of the triple disaster in March 2011. Of those, 40,349 from the three prefectures hit hardest by the disaster — Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate — had left their hometowns to reside in areas outside their home prefectures. While local authorities continue to visit evacuees door-to-door, in many cases their whereabouts have become unknown.
On Feb. 15, Naokiyo Suzuki, 66, and two other disaster recovery support workers sent by the Tomioka Municipal Government in Fukushima Prefecture visited the home of 63-year-old Kazunari Sakamoto, who has evacuated from his hometown with his wife to Taiwa, Miyagi Prefecture. The workers checked whether the couple needed welfare services as they chatted with them.
“It’s hard for us to get local information on the town we used to live in, and we tend to think that we’ve been abandoned,” Sakamoto says. “I’m thankful that workers from my hometown come to check on us.”
At an apartment in the Miyagi Prefecture city of Tagajo, the support workers met with a male relative of an evacuee in her 90s to learn how she was doing. The relative told them that she fell (at the apartment) and bruised her face and said he wanted to have her moved from the current place as he was worried about the steep stairs at the building. Suzuki’s team then asked the bureau at the Fukushima Prefectural Government to handle the man’s request.
There are 34,202 Fukushima Prefecture residents who left the prefecture after the disaster and have not returned. The prefectural government has set up disaster recovery hubs in nine prefectures in the Tohoku and Kanto regions, including Tokyo, and support workers visit and meet with the evacuees. Separately, the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Tomioka and Namie continue to visit their local residents who have evacuated outside the prefecture. These local governments are utilizing the disaster recovery support workers program set up by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications to cover expenditure, including the support workers’ salaries and their activity fees. The program was established with the objective of providing services to watch over the evacuees.
At the same time, differences in support measures taken by the three prefectures have become apparent. The Iwate and Miyagi prefectural governments, with 1,234 and 4,913 evacuees outside those prefectures, respectively, conduct door-to-door visits, not to check the evacuees’ lives away from their home, but rather to confirm their thoughts on returning to their home prefectures. Both prefectural governments therefore do not visit the evacuees’ homes if their will to return can be confirmed via a phone call or in writing. They explain that they have phone consultation services and other methods to respond to evacuees’ needs.
With such handling of the evacuees, some are feeling increasingly isolated. An 83-year-old woman who lives by herself at a housing complex in Saitama Prefecture after her home in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, was swept away in the tsunami says she only exchanges conversations at her doorstep with a social worker who stops by about once every two months.
“There were various things I could enjoy in Otsuchi, but there’s nothing like that here,” the woman says. She hardly goes out, except to visit the hospital and to go shopping.
A study shows that the risk of depression increases when a person does not have someone in their immediate circle to talk to. Waseda University and other organizations began a survey in October last year targeting households that have moved from Fukushima Prefecture to the Tokyo metropolitan area after the disaster. According to a midterm preliminary report, of the 356 households that responded to a question on whether members had someone to talk to when there was a problem or concern, 157 households, or 44 percent, said “no.” Of these households, 49, or 31.2 percent, said there was at least one family member suspected to have depression — about three times higher than the corresponding figure for households whose members had someone to talk to.
Among the respondents in this survey was a couple in their 50s who said they were thinking about a family suicide due to financial hardships. The husband has had a hard time finding a job and their second son stopped going to school due to bullying. They decided to “leave some kind of trace” before taking their own lives when the questionnaire arrived in the mail and they raised their voice for the first time.
Yutaka Aiko, director general of support group “Shinsai Shien (disaster support) Network Saitama” which helped out with the survey, points out that there are people who hide the fact that they are disaster evacuees from others around them. He stressed that administrative bodies need to understand evacuees’ circumstances through door-to-door visits.
The Mainichi Shimbun asked each local government that conducts door-to-door visits about the number of households they have visited and the number of families they could actually meet, and calculated the success rate. As a result, the Fukushima Prefectural Government had a 34 percent success rate and the Miyagi Prefectural Government 24 percent. Some housing units that are supposed to house evacuees show no sign of occupancy, making it difficult for local authorities to know where the evacuees are located.

February 27, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment