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Japan’s government weighs dumping radioactive Fukushima water into the Pacific

As the cleanup of a triple meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami at the Fukushima nuclear power plant drags into its seventh year, one of the biggest continuing threats is less from airborne radioactivity than it is simple water.


A waterlogged radiation and tsunami warning sign found on Fukushima beaches in 2013.
May 22, 2018
As the cleanup of a triple meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami at the Fukushima nuclear power plant drags into its seventh year, one of the biggest continuing threats is less from airborne radioactivity than it is simple water.
On March 11, 2011, the Fukushima plant was devastated by a tsunami, which over the ensuing days sent three of its six reactors into meltdown, while hydrogen explosions cast radioactive iodine, cesium and other fission by-products into the air. More than 160,000 people were forced to evacuated in the wake of the disaster, which has now become synonymous with Chernobyl.
At the time, officials began pumping millions of liters of water into the destroyed reactors to keep them cool, often dumping it from helicopters and spraying it through water cannons. In the years since, the water inundation has become less dramatic, but in the absence of any other way to keep the molten fuel cool, the flow of water continues to flow through the remains of the reactors at the rate of some 160 tons of water a day.
While much of that water undergoes purification to remove significant amounts of radiation, filters can’t cleanse the water of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen — a process likened by some scientists to separating water from water.
As a result, water contaminated with tritium is building up and space to store it at the disaster site is running out. Of the 1.13 million-ton water storage capacity that the plant has, some 1.7 million tons have been used up.
Cleanup workers have to build a new steel water tank at the rate of one every four days to contain it all, and space to build more is becoming scarce. According to Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the tanks already sprawl over an area that could accommodate 32 football fields. All of the storage, says the government, will run out by 2021.
This looming crisis has left the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns Fukushima,  pondering how to get rid of this water – a decision that is generating anxiety and scare headlines as an expert committee weighs whether or not to release the water into the Pacific Ocean.
Despite the national and worldwide case of nerves such a decision might provoke the Japanese government says it can do it without a threat to the country’s fishing industry. Tritium, after all, is a substance that naturally occurs in rivers and seabeds – even tap water. What’s problematic with the tritium at Fukushima, though, is that its levels in the Fukushima water are 10 times higher than Japanese national standards for dumping it.
Because of that, the government’s expert panel is considering several methods for the water’s disposal, including evaporating it, releasing it into the sea after electrolysis, burying it underground or injecting it deep into the geology.
But as cleanup costs continue to spiral, with some Japanese think tanks speculating the final bill could be as much as $470 billion to $660 billion,  releasing the water into the sea – after diluting it – may turn out to be the cheapest option.
It’s not the first battle against water that the cleanup effort has fought. As recently as two years ago, some 400 tons of ground water flowed into the facility daily. Tokyo Electric Power somewhat stemmed that by building an underground wall of frozen soil to staunch the seepage of radioactive water.
has managed to decrease the inflow by installing a 30-yard-long “ice wall” fence that freezing cold brine is pumped through to freeze the soil around it, reports Wired. The chilled soil is meant to create a barrier to keep additional groundwater from spilling into the radioactive area.
But this year, on the seventh anniversary of the disaster, an expert group commissioned by the Japanese government concluded that the subterranean wall is not entirely effective against the deluge, and that other methods of battling leakage have to be devised.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

‘Everything is fine and delicious in Fukushima’ according to the director the Fukushima Reconstruction Promotion Group at the minister’s secretariat of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Fukushima, seven years on
by Hideyasu Tamura
May 21, 2018
More than seven years have passed since the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in 2011. A successful decommissioning of the plant and reconstruction of Fukushima is one of the most important missions of the government, especially the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. Since 2016, I’ve been involved in the ministry’s special unit on Fukushima reconstruction, and mainly charged with a mission to eliminate reputational damage.
After the accident, the government set very stringent standards on the level of radioactive substances in food (in principle, 100 becquerel/kg: 10 times stricter than the Codex radionuclides standard), and any food product exceeding that level is prohibited for market distribution. Food products from Fukushima have undergone stringent monitoring, including all-volume inspection on rice and beef. Since 2015, not a single grain of rice or any piece of beef has been found with radioactive substances exceeding that level.
Nevertheless, around 12 percent of consumers in Japan tend to avoid agricultural and fishery products from Fukushima, according to a Consumer Affairs Agency survey. Since such reputational damage lingers even at home, the popular perception gap concerning Fukushima is likely even more serious overseas. With a view toward bridging that gap, I would like to highlight the following facts.
First, in the 12 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture where evacuation orders were introduced after the nuclear disaster (Futaba, Hirono, Iitate, Kawamata, Kawauchi, Katsurao, Minamisoma, Namie, Naraha, Okuma, Tamura and Tomioka), the number of companies in the industrial estates has doubled from 35 before the disaster (in December 2010) to 70 in January. Some of the companies that have newly launched operation there engage in business that are relatively new to this area, such as the recycling of lithium-ion batteries and the production of internet-of-things devices that are wearable.
The establishment of the new companies have been facilitated by government incentives, including subsidies on investments that cover up to three-quarters of the investment cost, as well as the development of industrial infrastructure, such as the Fukushima Robot Test Field in Minamisoma and Namie. The test field, where any entity can use an extensive site (approximately 50 hectares) for demonstration experiments of robots and drones, is the core facility of the Fukushima Innovation Coast Framework.
This shows that the areas of Fukushima hit by the nuclear disaster have already become safe enough for businesses to operate. Private-sector companies never launch operations in locations where their employees’ safety is not ensured, even when the government provides most favorable incentives.
Second, as another proof of the area’s safety, the current situation of the Fukushima No. 1 plant should be highlighted. Today, workers can enter 96 percent of the site without any special radiation protection gear because the air dose rate has significantly decreased compared with right after the accident.
In addition, through multi-layered measures (e.g., the construction of frozen soil walls to suppress the inflow of groundwater as well as the pumping up of groundwater), the generation of contaminated water has been significantly reduced and prevented from leaking into the ocean. As a result, the concentration of radioactive materials in the sea water surrounding the plant has declined from 10,000 becquerels per liter as of March 2011 to below the detection limit (less than 0.7 becquerel per liter) since 2016.
The successful management of contaminated water has resulted in the improved safety of Fukushima’s fishery products. No marine products caught off Fukushima has exceeded the standard limit (100 becquerel/kg) in monitoring surveys over the fiscal years from 2015 to 2017.
Third, evacuation orders were lifted in many parts of the 12 municipalities by April 2017, and areas still under such orders account for approximately 2.7 percent of the prefecture’s total space — compared with 8 percent when the zoning was set in 2013. In several municipalities where evacuation orders were lifted up relatively early (such as the city of Tamura and the village of Kawauchi), around 80 percent of local residents have returned to their homes. Even in the areas where evacuation orders remain in place, efforts to improve the living environment have begun to pave the way for return of residents at the earliest possible time.
Needless to say, many challenges remain toward the successful reconstruction of Fukushima. The decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 plant is expected to take 30 to 40 years. To carry out the decommissioning, the retrieval of the melted nuclear fuel debris will be a major hurdle, and efforts to probe the inside of the reactor structures just started in 2015. In several towns where the evacuation orders were lifted only last year, less than 10 percent of local residents have returned to their homes. The improvement of living environment is an urgent task for those towns in order to encourage more residents to return.
Despite these challenges, the safety of Fukushima both in terms of its food products and the living/working environment in most parts of the prefecture has been proven. It is a pity that several countries/regions still impose import restrictions on Japanese food products (including those from Fukushima) and some people still hesitate to visit Fukushima for tourism or business. I wish that more people will visit Fukushima to taste the delicious and world’s safest rice, peaches and fish, and that more companies would be interested in utilizing advanced facilities/infrastructure such as the Fukushima Robot Test Field, and invest in Fukushima by taking advantage of the most favorable incentives in this country. Peaches will be harvested every year, but subsidies and other incentives will not last forever — so, the fast-movers will get the advantages.
Hideyasu Tamura is director the Fukushima Reconstruction Promotion Group at the minister’s secretariat of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Radiation monitors in Fukushima to be scrapped after malfunctioning to the tune of ¥500 million a year

May 21, 2018
The thousands of radiation-monitoring posts installed in Fukushima Prefecture after the 2011 nuclear crisis have malfunctioned nearly 4,000 times, sources said Sunday as the Nuclear Regulation Authority prepares to remove them after spending ¥500 million a year on repair costs.
“It’s all about the budget in the end. They can’t reuse the devices and there seem to be no concrete plans,” said Terumi Kataoka, a housewife in Aizuwakamatsu who formed a group of mothers to petition the NRA last month to keep the monitors in place. The NRA refused.
Around 3,000 of the monitors were installed in the wake of the triple core meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant following the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami. The NRA, which operates the monitoring posts, plans to remove around 80 percent of them by the end of fiscal 2020 on the grounds that radiation levels in some areas have fallen and stabilized.
But the move is being viewed by some as an attempt to cut costs because the government is also looking to terminate its special budgetary account for rebuilding Tohoku by the same year.
Some municipalities and residents oppose scrapping the monitoring posts because they will no longer be able to gauge the risk to their health. They were installed in kindergartens, schools and other places to measure radiation in the air, according to the NRA.
But in the five years since the network was activated in fiscal 2013, the system has been plagued by problems including inaccurate readings and data-transmission failures. The tally of cases stands at 3,955.
Each time, the undisclosed makers of the device and security companies were called to fix it, costing the central government about ¥500 million a year.
In March, the NRA decided to remove about 2,400 of the monitoring posts from areas outside the 12 municipalities near the wrecked power plant and reuse some of them in the municipalities.
Local citizens’ groups have asked the NRA not to remove the monitoring posts until the plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., is decommissioned. That project is expected to take decades.
Kataoka asked the NRA to disclose information on its plans to reuse the devices, but she was told no official documents on the plans had been drafted yet.
On Monday, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori urged the central government to investigate the cause of the monitor malfunctions and take measures to address the issue.
“The accuracy of the system is important,” he said.
Safecast, a global volunteer-based citizen science organization formed in 2011 to monitor radiation from the Fukushima disaster, said some devices had to be replaced because they didn’t work or were not made to the required specifications. Many were placed in locations that had notably lower ambient radiation than their surroundings, and so were not adequately representative of the situation, it added.
“Removing the units seems like a huge step away from transparency,” said Azby Brown, lead researcher at Safecast.
Brown said the public will certainly view the move with suspicion and increasingly mistrust the government, while the continuity of the database is lost.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Quote of the Day


“We achieved the sixth straight year of victory despite the severe situation due to rumors about radiation contamination”.

Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori, speaking at a ceremony after the National Research Institute of Brewing awarded Fukushima Prefecture the national sake title for an unprecedented sixth straight year.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan still at a loss in how to deal with Fukushima’s radioactive water

20 May, 2018
The number of storage tanks for contaminated water and other materials has continuously increased at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in Japan, and space for still more tanks is approaching the limit.
It is seven years since an eathquake and tsunami overwhelmed Fukushima and a way to get rid of treated water, or tritium water, has not been decided yet.
The Government and Tokyo Electric Power Company will have to make a tough decision on disposal of tritium water down the road.
At the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, groundwater and other water enters the reactor buildings that suffered meltdowns, where the water becomes contaminated.
This produces about 160 tons of contaminated water per day. Purification devices remove many of the radioactive materials, but tritium – a radioactive isotope of hydrogen – cannot be removed for technical reasons. Thus, treated water that includes only tritium continues to increase.
Currently, the storage tanks have a capacity of about 1.13 million tons. About 1.07 million tons of that capacity is now in use, of which about 80 per cent is for such treated water.
Space for tanks, which has been made by razing forests and other means, amounts to about 230,000 sq m – equivalent to almost 32 football fields. There is almost no more available vacant space.
Efforts have been made to increase storage capacity by constructing bigger tanks when the time comes for replacing the current ones. But a senior official of the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry said, “Operation of tanks is close to its capacity.”
TEPCO plans to secure 1.37 million tons of storage capacity by the end of 2020, but it has not yet decided on a plan for after 2021. Akira Ono, chief decommissioning officer of TEPCO, said, “It is impossible to continue to store [treated water] forever.”
Tritium exists in nature, such as in seas and rivers, and is also included in tap water. The ordinary operations of nuclear plants produce tritium as well.
Nuclear plants, both in Japan and overseas, have so far diluted it and released it into the sea or elsewhere. An average of 380 trillion becquerels had been annually released into the sea across Japan during the five years before the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
Bottles that contain the treated water continue to be brought one after another to a building for chemical analysis on the grounds of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. The tritium concentration of the treated water is up to more than 1 million becquerels per liter, which is more than 10 times higher than the national standard for release into the sea – 60,000 becquerels per liter. But if diluted, it can be released into the sea.
The industry ministry’s working group compiled a report in June 2016 that said that the method of release into the sea is the cheapest and quickest among five ideas it examined. The ideas were:
– release into the sea;
– release by evaporation;
– release after electrolysis;
– burial underground;
– injection into geological layers.
The committee plans to hold a public hearing in Fukushima Prefecture and other places to hear citizens’ opinions on methods of disposal.

May 23, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Call to White House to oppose Saudi Arabia’s threat to acquire nuclear weapons

White House Should State Opposition to Saudi Threat to Acquire Nuclear Weapons

WASHINGTON DC, May 16 2018 (IPS– We are deeply disappointed by the counterproductive response from the Trump administration to the statements from senior Saudi officials threatening to pursue nuclear weapons in violation of their nonproliferation commitments. 

We call on the White House to immediately reiterate the longstanding, bipartisan policy of the United States that it will actively work against the spread of nuclear weapons to any country, friend or foe.

President Donald Trump’s reckless decision to violate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which has blocked Iran’s pathways to nuclear weapons and put in place a robust monitoring system to detect and deter cheating, has not only opened the door to an expansion of Iran’s capability to produce bomb-grade nuclear material, but it has increased the risk of a wider nuclear arms race in the Middle East, which is already home to one nuclear-armed state.

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel Al-Jubeir told CNN May 9, that his country, which, like Iran, is a party to the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), stands ready to build nuclear weapons if Iran restarts its nuclear program.

Al-Jubeir also praised Trump’s decision to abandon the Iran nuclear deal and seek to reimpose sanctions on firms and business engaging in legitimate commerce with Iran.

Asked what his country will do if Iran restarts its nuclear program, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “we will do whatever it takes to protect our people. We have made it very clear that if Iran acquires a nuclear capability, we will do everything we can to do the same.”

Asked to clarify whether that means the kingdom will work to acquire its own nuclear capability, al-Jubeir replied, “That’s what we mean.”

This follows similar comments by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in a March 15 interview with CBS News that Saudi Arabia will quickly follow suit if Iran acquires nuclear weapons.

When asked May 9 whether Saudi Arabia would “have the administration’s support in the event that that occurred,” White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said:

“Right now, I don’t know that we have a specific policy announcement on that front, but I can tell you that we are very committed to making sure that Iran does not have nuclear weapons,” she stated.

The administration’s nonresponse to Prince Salman’s threat in March and Sanders’ weak response May 9 amounts to an irresponsible invitation for mischief.

They imply that Trump administration would look the other way if Saudi Arabia breaks its NPT commitments to pursue nuclear weapons.

It is bad enough that the Trump administration, by violating the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, has threatened the NPT regime by opening the door for Iran to expand its nuclear capacity.

President Trump and his advisors must not compound that error by swallowing their tongues when another NPT member state in the region threatens to pursue the bomb.

We call on the White House to immediately clarify that it is the longstanding policy of the United States, as an original party to the NPT:

…not to in any way to assist, encourage, or induce any non-nuclear-weapon State to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons …” and “… to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament ….”

We also call on the U.S. Congress to reject any proposed agreement with Saudi Arabia that permits U.S. nuclear cooperation if Saudi Arabia seeks to or acquires sensitive uranium enrichment or plutonium separation technology which can be used to produce nuclear weapons.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | politics, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

America expands is nuclear arsenal as it demands that Iran and North Korea have no nuclear weapons

As U.S. Demands Nuclear Disarmament, It Moves to Expand Its Own Arsenal, NYT. By David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, May 14, 2018

WASHINGTON — For the White House, these have been dramatic days for nuclear disarmament: First President Trump exited the Iran deal, demanding that Tehran sign a new agreement that forever cuts off its path to making a bomb, then the administration announced a first-ever meeting with the leader of North Korea about ridding his nation of nuclear weapons.

But for the American arsenal, the initiatives are all going in the opposite direction, with a series of little-noticed announcements to spend billions of dollars building the factories needed to rejuvenate and expand America’s nuclear capacity.

The contrast has been striking. On Thursday evening, hours after Mr. Trump announced that his meeting with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, would take place on June 12 in Singapore, the Pentagon and the Energy Department announced plans to begin building critical components for next-generation nuclear weapons at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The idea is to repurpose a half-built, problem-ridden complex that was originally intended to turn old nuclear weapons into reactor fuel to light American cities. Now the facility will be used to revitalize America’s aging nuclear weapons, and to create the capacity to make many hundreds more.

…… While it is possible that the American buildup is part of a negotiating strategy, offering Mr. Trump something he can trade away before it gets started, the White House has made clear, in both statements and strategy, that it envisions the reduction of nuclear weapons as a one-way street.

….. President Barack Obama argued that the United States could not urge other countries to give up nuclear programs while expanding its own. But many of his own aides later said they wished he had done far more to reduce America’s arsenal, arguing that it could safely drop below the number the Russians deployed.

Now Mr. Trump is heading in the other direction. The United States has dramatically stepped up the effort to overhaul the existing arsenal and prepare for the day when it might once again be enlarged. Unless the New Start Treaty is renewed for five years, any limits on the American and Russian arsenals will expire in February 2021, just days after Mr. Trump would enter his second term.

In the meantime, the American government is doing all it can to make clear it is preparing for an era of nuclear buildup.

…….. Los Alamos is to make 30 pits per year, and the South Carolina plant 50. That setup, the Energy and Defense Departments said, will improve “the resiliency, flexibility and redundancy of our nuclear security enterprise by not relying on a single production site.” But it also signals a return to production of new weapons, even as Mr. Trump is withdrawing from the 2015 deal with Iran in part because of “sunset provisions” that he says will eventually allow Tehran to do the same.

The federal rationale for making up to 80 pits a year is hidden in layers of secrecy but turns on stated fears that the plutonium fuel at the heart of American weapons will deteriorate with age, eventually rendering them useless.

Whether that fear is justified is a matter of debate. In 2006, a federal nuclear panel found that the plutonium pits aged far better than expected, with most able to work reliably for a century or more.

That judgment led critics to contend that the federal government was seeking a new generation of nuclear pits for reasons not of national security but of saber-rattling.

“No new pits are needed for any warhead,” Greg Mello, the executive director of the Los Alamos Study Group, a private organization in Albuquerque that monitors the nation’s nuclear complex and opposes expansion, said recently. “There are thousands of pits stockpiled for possible reuse.”

The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review, published in February, called for the new capability to produce plutonium pits. It also called on Congress to approve the new low-yield nuclear weapons.

Last week, the full House Armed Services Committee endorsed the Nuclear Posture Review, but with Democrats overwhelmingly voting against it.

“We have to have a credible deterrence, but I think the Nuclear Posture Review goes way beyond credible nuclear deterrence,” said Representative Adam Smith of Washington, the top Democrat on the committee, warning that “we could stumble into a nuclear war.”

May 22, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Beware John Bolton, serial killer of nuclear agreements. He is shooting us all in the foot.

The Path of Broke Nuclear Agreements, Yahoo News, Tom Z. Collina, Catherine Killough, Philip Yun The National Interest•May 20, 2018    Unlike North Korea today, Iran does not possess a single nuclear weapon. By trashing the Iran deal, President Trump risks turning Iran into North Korea.

The Path of Broke Nuclear Agreements

President Donald Trump, at the urging of National Security Advisor John Bolton, has withdrawn from the Iran nuclear agreement, putting the future of the deal in jeopardy. Trump did this despite the fact that Iran is in compliance with the deal, that the deal has served to shrink Iran’s nuclear program and keep it away from a bomb, and that it has prevented another costly war in the Middle East.

Just how bad will things get with Iran now that Trump has acted? Hard to say, but we can see the writing on the wall: Tehran could restart its nuclear program and edge closer to building a bomb. This would lead to increased calls from the right to—once again—stop Iran from acquiring nuclear capability, by military force if necessary. Trump is already indicating that things are heading in that direction. Just one day after breaking out of the Iran deal, Trump warned of “very severe consequences” if Iran resumes its nuclear program.

To fully understand the risks of the Trump administration abandoning the Iran deal, one need only recall what happened in North Korea after Bolton, then in the Bush administration as an under secretary of state, did his part to kill another landmark nuclear deal—the Agreed Framework.

In 1994, the North Korean regime threatened to go nuclear for the first time. To prove the point, Pyongyang expelled all international inspectors and made preparations to extract weapons-grade plutonium from its Yongbyon research reactor. The risks of a conventional conflict—even then— were high because the Clinton Administration was seriously considering military intervention in case diplomacy failed. An unprecedented meeting between former president Jimmy Carter and North Korean leader Kim Il-sung eventually led to the first U.S.-North Korea nuclear deal, the Agreed Framework.

Though only four pages long, the Agreed Framework served a similar purpose to the 159-page Iran agreement: to prevent a state from developing nuclear weapons. And, though neither agreement was perfect, the Agreed Framework—like the Iran deal thus far—proved successful, preventing the North from producing dozens more nuclear weapons worth of fissile material. For nearly a decade, the North readmitted international inspectors, stopped producing plutonium and shelved plans to build two large reactors.

……. Instead of working to improve the Agreed Framework by adding additional, stronger measures to what already existed, the Bush administration chose to back out of the agreement in 2002. Since that time, North Korea has consistently shocked the world with the speed, sophistication, and fulfillment of its nuclear ambitions.

……. Now, it is difficult to conceive of North Korea relinquishing a nuclear arsenal it has worked for two decades to achieve. But in 1994, long before North Korea tested its first bomb, the North did not have nuclear weapons to give up. Since then, the chance of convincing North Korea to give up its nuclear program has become less likely and more costly.

That history begs the question: What would North Korea look like today had we kept the Agreed Framework and built on it, rather than throwing it away?

Unlike North Korea today, Iran does not possess a single nuclear weapon, only the theoretical capability to one day produce them. By trashing the Iran deal, President Trump risks turning Iran into North Korea.

John Bolton was a central player in withdrawing U.S. support from the North Korea deal in 2002 and from the Iran deal now. History has shown that abandoning the North Korea deal made the problem worse, not better. Similarly, we can expect that the Iran crisis will now get worse, not better, as Tehran resumes its nuclear program and Trump responds with military threats.

Beware John Bolton, serial killer of nuclear agreements. He is shooting us all in the foot.

Philip Yun is Executive Director of Ploughshares Fund, a San Francisco-based peace and security foundation. He was a member of a government working group that managed U.S. policy and negotiations with North Korea under President Clinton and was part of the U.S. delegation that traveled to North Korea with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright in 2000.

Tom Collina is the Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund. He has over 25 years of Washington, DC experience in nuclear weapons, missile defense and nonproliferation issues.

Catherine Killough is the Roger L. Hale Fellow at Ploughshares Fund, focusing on North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, inter-Korean relations, the US alliance system in East Asia, and the transnational politics of Asia.

Image: Unlike North Korea today, Iran does not possess a single nuclear weapon. By trashing the Iran deal, President Trump risks turning Iran into North Korea.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Hitachi’s build of Wylfa nuclear power station delayed – may never happen

Asahi Shimbun 20th May 2018 [Machine Translation] Hitachi announced plans to delay the goal of starting
nuclear power plans planned in the UK for about two years to 2027. The collection of funds necessary for the project is difficult, and reconsideration of sharing has started between companies that undertake design and construction.

The continuation of the project itself is increasingly uncertain.

In the plan, two nuclear reactors will be built on  Anglesey island in the UK. The goal of starting operation has been
announced as “early 20’s”.However, according to officials, the Hitachi side recently proposed a new goal “April 27” to companies and others involved in the plan. It is planned to decide whether to start construction in 2019,
but it seems to be assuming a case where this time is delayed.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, UK | Leave a comment

European Union remains committed to the Iran nuclear agreement, reassures Iran

Europe reassures Iran of commitment to nuclear deal without U.S, Alissa de Carbonnel 19 May 18 TEHRAN (Reuters) – The European Union’s energy chief sought to reassure Iran on Saturday that the bloc remained committed to salvaging a nuclear deal with Tehran despite U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the accord and reimpose sanctions.

Miguel Arias Canete delivered the message on a visit to Tehran and also said the 28-nation EU, once the biggest importer of Iranian oil, hoped to strengthen trade with Iran.

“We have sent a message to our Iranian friends that as long as they are sticking to the (nuclear) agreement the Europeans will… fulfill their commitment. And they said the same thing on the other side,” Arias Canete, European Commissioner for energy and climate, told reporters after talks with Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi.

Salehi said it would be disastrous if EU efforts fail to preserve the 2015 deal, in which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear work in return for the lifting of most Western sanctions. “The ball is in their (EU leaders) court,” Salehi said. “We hope their efforts materialize.”

Since Trump’s announcement of the U.S. exit on May 8, EU leaders have pledged to try to keep Iran’s oil trade and investment flowing but admitted that will not be easy to do so.

Britain, France and Germany back the deal as the best way of stopping Tehran getting nuclear weapons but have called on Iran to limit its regional influence and curb the missile program……..

May 22, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, Iran, politics international | Leave a comment

Walter Pincus warns U.S. Congress to be sceptical of Pentagon’s call to fund a new nuclear weapon

The Pentagon is seeking money for a new nuclear weapon. Congress should be skeptical. By Walter Pincus May 18  Walter Pincus is a former Washington Post reporter and columnist covering national security issues.

Top Pentagon officials are telling some pretty tall tales in seeking congressional support for a new, low-yield, nuclear warhead to put on a long-range, submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Gen. John E. Hyten, commander of U.S. Strategic Command, gave the most unusual rationale when he testified on March 20 before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The stated purpose of this new weapon is to deter the Russians from using any of their low-yield nuclear weapons — something Russian President Vladimir Putin has often threatened to do if he ever found himself being overwhelmed by NATO conventional forces, presumably in Western Europe.

The United States and its NATO allies already have about 200 low-yield nuclear bombs deployed in Europe. But Hyten and Pentagon officials say an additional weapon is needed to deter Putin’s first use of his tactical nukes, because the aircraft that would deliver our bombs, stealthy as they may be, might not be able to get through Russian defenses.

That’s where the new submarine-launched weapon would come in.

In Hyten’s presentation, should the Russians initiate the use of tactical nukes on the battlefield, the United States would launch one or two low-yield weapons from submarines, not toward the battlefield, where allies might be threatened, but toward targets in Russia.

Here’s the most interesting part: How are the Russians going to know the warheads on those incoming missiles are low-yield, and not — like most nuclear warheads delivered by our submarine-launched ballistic missiles — 10 times more powerful than the bombs used to strike Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Hyten’s initial response to that question was to tell the senators that from launch to detonation some 30 minutes would elapse.

He then explained: “If somebody does detect that launch, they would see a single missile or maybe two missiles coming. They will realize it is not an existential threat to their country and, therefore, they do not have to respond with an existential threat.” By “existential threat” Hyten essentially meant a full-scale first strike by hundreds of U.S. warheads, designed to knock out Russia’s ability to respond and perhaps survive as a nation.

In short, Hyten suggested that Putin — or his successor — would wait 30 minutes for the incoming one or two U.S. missiles to hit Russian targets before deciding whether to launch a major nuclear response back at the United States.

Why does Hyten suggest that?

His answer was surprising: “That is what I would recommend if I saw that coming against the United States.”

Has any prior STRATCOM commander, or any other U.S. senior government official, announced publicly the United States would ride out any nuclear attack before responding?

Hyten went on to explain, “If we do have to respond, we want to respond in kind and not further escalate the conflict out of control.”

He described the new warhead as a “deterrence weapon first, and then a response weapon . . . to keep the conflict from escalating worse. It actually makes it harder for an adversary to use [a nuclear] weapon in the first place and if it does use it, it allows you to respond appropriately.”

Hyten added, “The key is a rational actor. A rational actor is the basis of all deterrent policy.”

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis made a simpler claim for developing the new warhead in testimony on May 9 before the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee. He described the scenario Hyten used: Russia, facing defeat in a conventional battle, “would escalate to a low-yield nuclear weapon knowing that our choice would be . . . to either respond with a high-yield [nuclear weapon] or surrender — in other words, frankly suicide or surrender, because a nuclear exchange between Russia and the United States would be a disaster for this planet.”

Suicide or surrender are hardly the only choices, and Mattis should know better.

That same day, May 9, Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, offered the more traditional understanding of how to deter the Russian low-yield nuclear weapon threat. It came during markup of the fiscal 2019 defense authorization bill.

Smith said, “We don’t create this notion that we can just exchange nuclear weapons and as long as they are small it will be okay. It won’t be okay.” Instead, he suggested, the response to the Russians should be, “We have over 4,000 nuclear weapons, and if you launch one, we will launch ours back at you. And we are not going to sit there and be concerned to make sure that ours isn’t bigger than yours when you started this.”

The Washington state congressman added, “If we send that message, that is a very sufficient deterrent.”

The full House Armed Services Committee ended up authorizing $65 million for development of the new low-yield, sub-launched missile and sent the measure on for an eventual vote by the full House. Meanwhile, the Senate Armed Services Committee has scheduled taking up the measure the week of May 21 where it may face more opposition than it did in the House committee. It should.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Desperate nuclear lobby goes bananas over bananas

The pro-nuclear lobby goes bananas

May 22, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Japanese government’s inflexibility in keeping its nuclear power goals, despite the global transition to renewables

Gov’t energy plan inflexibility on nuclear, renewables reveals lack of vision  (Mainichi Japan) The government has unveiled its revised basic energy plan, though its core elements concerning the ratio of Japan’s electricity needs to be supplied by nuclear power and renewables by fiscal 2030 has not changed from the plan adopted three years ago.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Japan, politics | 1 Comment

Missouri legal case – claim that cancer caused by Manhattan Project

Woman claims Manhattan Project caused her cancer, by Amanda Thomas | May 20, 2018, ST. LOUIS – A Florissant woman has filed a lawsuit against a biopharmaceutical company and chemical-producing corporation for alleged negligence related to the disposal of “hazardous, toxic, and radioactive materials” near residential neighborhoods in St. Louis County.

Terry L. Williams filed a complaint on May 16 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri against Mallinckrodt LLC and the Cotter Corporation, alleging the defendants violated the Atomic Energy Act of 1954.

According to the complaint, Williams alleges she has suffered physical injury, pain and suffering because of annual exposure to radiation when she engaged in frequent outdoor recreational activities in and around Coldwater Creek, HISS and SLAPS sites.

The lawsuit notes that the nation began a top-secret project to build the first atomic bomb during World War II and the Army created the Manhattan Engineering District (MED) to carry out the work of the “Manhattan Project.” After the war, the nation formed the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to continue its nuclear research and some of the work was performed in the St. Louis area.

“Under contracts with the MED and/or the AEC, the Destrehan Street Refinery and Metal Plant (which later became Mallinckrodt Chemical Works) processed natural uranium into uranium oxide, trioxide, and metal uranium at a facility in downtown St. Louis,” the complaint said.

According to the complaint, Mallinckrodt caused the release of radiation into the environment along haul routes in northern St. Louis County between 1942 and 1957. The complaint alleges that Mallinckrodt’s actions led to the contamination of “the air, soil, surface water, and groundwater along the haul routes.”

It is alleged in court documents, “Mallinckrodt’s acts and omissions between approximately 1942 and 1957 proximately caused plaintiff to suffer the injuries described in this complaint.”

The complaint notes that the affected sites in St. Louis County have elevated levels of radium, thorium and uranium in groundwater and soils. The Environmental Protection Agency reportedly found that direct contact with or accidental ingestion of contaminated soils and groundwater near those sites may pose health risks to individuals.

Williams requests a trial by jury and is seeking punitive damages.

May 22, 2018 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

UK’s contentious new arrangement for nuclear safeguards, following exit from Euratom

David Lowry’s Blog 17th May 2018 , Brexit correspondent missed the main issue arising from the UK nuclear
regulator’s report leaked to Sky News. On July 13 last year, the UK
Government position paper on “Nuclear materials and safeguards issues,”
included the key proposal that the UK will: “take responsibility for
meeting the UK’s safeguards obligations, as agree with IAEA
(International Atomic Energy Agency).”

Currently “ safeguards” are applied in the UK under a ‘voluntary ‘trilateral treaty between the UK,
Euratom and the IAEA. It comprises 36 pages in total, opening with the key
element in the treaty stating in A r t i c l e 1(a) “The United Kingdom
shall accept the application of safeguards, in accordance with the terms of
this Agreement, on all source or special fissionable material in facilities
or parts thereof within the United Kingdom, subject to exclusions for
national security reasons only (my emphasis)

The exclusion opt out is explained at Article 14 which reads in part: “If the United Kingdom
intends to make any withdrawals of nuclear material from the scope of this
Agreement for national security reasons …. it shall give the Community
(ie Euratom) and the Agency (IAEA) advance notice of such withdrawal…”

The ONR has been given unprecedented responsibility for policing a
diplomatically contentious new arrangement, which will increase suspicion
among member states of the 1968 nuclear nonproliferation treaty ( for which
the UK , as a co-drafter of the treaty text, is one of three depositary
states) – which ministers pray-in-aid whenever they discuss the rationale
for a UK nuclear safeguards system. However, ministers routinely
cherry-pick those parts of the NPT that suite their purposes: but the NPT
is an integrated diplomatic agreement, with its articles all relevant and

Cherry-picking is both diplomatically unwise, as it normalises
abrogation for other signatory nations, and undermines the very treaty for
which the UK is supposed to act as a protective depositary state!

May 22, 2018 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international, UK | Leave a comment