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Taiwan: COA, KMT official present opposing views of Japanese food ban

It is odd that only mainland China, Taiwan and South Korea are maintaining the Japanese food ban to protect their population from radiation contaminated food, while ours pass deals with the Japanese gouvernment and even letting them to promote it in special trade shows sponsored by the japanese embassies….
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Taipei, Nov. 3 (CNA) A Council of Agriculture (COA) official and a former Taipei mayor argued the merits Saturday of lifting a ban on imports of food from parts of Japan affected by a nuclear plant disaster in March 2011 ahead of a referendum on the issue later this month.
The two separately argued their positions on the issue in prepared presentations, with COA deputy chief Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) saying Taiwan’s inspection rules for food imports would keep the public safe if the ban were lifted.
But former Taipei mayor and opposition Kuomintang (KMT) Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌), who proposed the referendum, said the radioactive substances that still exist in the affected areas in Japan pose a potential threat to consumers and Taiwan’s food safety.
The referendum question, one of 10 up for a vote on Nov. 24, will ask voters: “Do you agree the government should maintain the ban on imports of agricultural products and food from areas in Japan affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster on March 11, 2011, including Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures?”
In arguing the government’s position that the ban should be lifted, Chen said Taiwan has embraced stricter standards than other countries for inspecting food items that could be contaminated by radioactive substances.
The inspection process in Taiwan is transparent, meaning that the government can assure the public that Japanese food allowed to be put on store shelves is 100 percent safe, he said.
Hau argued that the radiation leaks from the Fukushima power plant has damaged the soil, water and the general environment in the area, and if radionuclides such as cesium and strontium affect fish or other agricultural items in Japan, the impact will be felt for a long time.
Once people in Taiwan consume these tainted food items, Hau said, it will be like ingesting poison, in effect posing a risk to food safety in Taiwan.
In particular, Hau said, Taiwan is geographically close to Japan and Taiwanese like to eat Japanese food, meaning the government should have a zero tolerance policy for food safety and continue to ban food and agricultural product imports from the radiation-affected areas.
Taiwan imposed the ban on food imports from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba prefectures on March 25, 2011, two weeks after the Fukushima nuclear power plant was battered by a major earthquake and tsunami.
It soon suffered a nuclear meltdown that led to large amounts of radioactive substances being spewed into the environment.
Hau said the public has the right to be free of potential scares from eating contaminated Japanese food resulting from the nuclear disaster.
Chen argued, however, that many countries such as the United States, Singapore and South Korea and countries in Europe have opted to closely monitor high contamination risks related to food imports from Japan rather than continuing to impose a complete ban.
In other words, those countries allow the sale of foods from the radiation-affected areas in Japan if they are determined to be safe through inspections, the official said.
According to Chen, Taiwan and China are the only countries in the world to maintain a complete ban on foods from these parts of Japan, and he said Taiwan should adopt pragmatic measures on the issue.
The Democratic Progressive Party government, which has traditionally had close ties with Japan, has tried to lift the ban since taking power in May 2016 but has yet to succeed because of popular resistance.
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November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

So who will foot the bill if another nuclear disaster strikes Japan?

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From left: The No. 1 to No. 4 reactors of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in May 2012
November 1, 2018
The government is trying to wriggle out of overhauling the way compensation should be paid out for damages caused by a nuclear accident.
A working group of the government’s Atomic Energy Commission had been considering ways to bolster the system, including raising the amount of losses covered by insurance, but failed to produce a formal proposal. The commission apparently failed to obtain support for these ideas from the electric power and insurance industries.
The panel started reviewing the system in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Nearly eight years have passed since the catastrophic triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, yet serious problems and flaws remain unaddressed with the current system. The government clearly has no intention of tackling them anytime soon.
The Abe administration and the power industry are pushing to restart offline reactors, which is a very irresponsible move.
The current system for compensation requires operators of nuclear plants to sign contracts with both private-sector insurers and the government to finance payouts related to nuclear accidents.
But these contracts are good for only up to 120 billion yen ($1.06 billion) per nuclear plant. This is way too small, given that compensation payments related to the Fukushima disaster have already surpassed 8 trillion yen.
In the case of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima facility, it quickly became clear that the company could not raise the necessary funds on its own. This prospect prompted the government to create a makeshift program to support such payouts.
Under this system, the government first pays compensation and then recovers the money over a period of decades from TEPCO and other major electric utilities.
The government’s rationale is that utilities must work together to fork up funding for the system in light of the massive sums required. This system is supposed to swing into action if another major nuclear accident occurs.
But it is hard to claim that a system based on mutual aid among competitors is sustainable, given the growing competition due to the liberalization of the power retail market.
It is time to find an answer to the weighty, complicated question of how the financial burden of preparing for nuclear accidents and paying compensation for losses should be shared among electric power companies, their stakeholders and the government.
Operators of nuclear power plants have an obligation to provide against nuclear emergencies.
As a first step, insurance coverage for accident-caused losses should be sharply raised.
The government needs to continue working with related industries to work out a specific plan.
It should also consider how to deal with the prospect of a power company going under in the event of a serious accident. If such a thing were to happen, the government would probably have to play the leading role in paying compensation. But it would still need to get the shareholders and financial institutions involved to cough up their fair share of the burden.
Increased insurance premiums paid by major electric utilities could cause electricity bills to rise. But it would help make more accurate assessments of the real costs of nuclear power generation, which both the government and the power industry have claimed to be lower than those of alternative energy sources.
At the root of the troubled history of policy efforts to address the issue of compensation is the ambiguous nature of the government’s nuclear power policy. This is borne out by the way it took the initiative in promoting nuclear power plants operated by private-sector companies.
Should nuclear power generation continue despite the potential risks and social costs? If another severe nuclear accident occurs, who should take the responsibility for dealing with the aftermath and in what ways?
These are just some of the fundamental questions about nuclear power policy raised by the need to revamp the compensation system.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Ex-TEPCO Executive Downplays Role in Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown

Three TEPCO leaders are on trial for allegedly delaying tsunami preparation measures.
 
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TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, center, Vice President Takashi Fujimoto, second from left, Sakae Muto, second from right, and others bow before a news conference at the company’s head office in Tokyo, Japan (March 30, 2011).
October 31, 2018
Prosecutors at Tokyo Metropolitan District Court continue to piece together the timeline that led Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to hold off on securing the plant against its worst-case tsunami scenario.
Despite TEPCO staff being assigned to calculate the extent of the tsunami threat, their findings were ignored. Top TEPCO officials are now fighting criminal negligence charges for allegedly neglecting tsunami prevention initiatives.
Experts say the impact of the devastating tsunami that struck on March 11, 2011, triggering the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, could have been prevented if sufficient countermeasures were taken. The lengthy criminal trial finished its 32nd session in late October, revealing contradictions in the managerial awareness of the long-term tsunami risks and a controversial shift in the company attitude toward installing appropriate measures.
Former CEO Tsunehisa Katsumata, 78, and former Executive Vice Presidents Sakae Muto, 68, and Ichiro Takekuro, 72, were indicted two years ago on charges of professional negligence resulting in death. All three have pleaded not guilty based on the uncertainty of predicting an “unthinkable” earthquake, which could occur once every thousand years.
Muto bowed his head in front of the judge and offered an apology to those who lost their lives, their families, and those forced to evacuate. From the outset, his initial apology seemed like an admission of responsibility. But it didn’t take long for Muto to maintain his innocence, saying he didn’t recall being briefed on a destructive earthquake or the need for new safety steps.
However, the cross-examination of witnesses at previous court sessions exposed holes in Muta’s pre-hearing affidavit and his statements made in court. TEPCO official Kazuhiko Yamashita, in charge of anti-earthquake measures at the time, gave evidence saying all three officials joined an imperial court meeting in February 2008, where they acknowledged the prediction of a 7.7-meter high tsunami and instructed the building of a 10-meter seawall. The meeting is said to have stressed that new tsunami measures were needed at Fukushima Nuclear Plant based on the long-term evaluation of the country and a hard copy of the report was also distributed to officials. However, in Muto’s affidavit, he originally claimed there was “absolutely no report” and vehemently denied tsunami countermeasures for Fukushima Nuclear Plant were a topic of discussion in the meeting,
An unexpected policy shift away from tsunami preparedness materialized when the TEPCO civil engineering team recalculated the tsunami height risk to 15.7 meters. The team reported the findings to Muto in June the same year. Rather than accelerating earthquake resistance plans, however, as construction proposals ballooned from original estimates and with the risk of unwanted attention on the nuclear power plant’s safety prospects, Yamashita says he was given orders by Muto to scrap the plans. Muto then consulted the Japan Society of Civil Engineers to reassess the findings for a second opinion.
Muto explained in court that he was uncertain of the report’s credibility and that it was natural to gather information on the many aspects he couldn’t make sense of. He repeatedly denied that the move indicated a desire to postpone new safety measures but said it stemmed from lack of alternatives. According to Muto, he didn’t have authority to make decisions over the company in that way.
The Great Eastern Earthquake of March 2011 knocked out power supplies and damaged back up generators, causing vital cooling systems at the nuclear plan to fail. Three reactor cores overheated and began to leak radiation. Seven years on, some 40,000 residents who were forced to flee their homes in Fukushima prefecture are still unable to return to their houses, which have fallen to ruin in the no-go zone. The ongoing trial, propelled largely by a group of Fukushima plaintiffs, offers a small chance at gaining closure and much needed background into the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eastern Japan cities sign nuclear accident evacuation accord

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This July 17, 2018 file photo shows the Tokai No. 2 nuclear power plant, front, in the village of Tokai in Ibaraki Prefecture.
 
October 31, 2018
CHIBA, Japan (Kyodo) — A local government near a nuclear power plant in eastern Japan signed an accord Wednesday that will allow its residents to take shelter in six municipalities further away from the complex in the case of an accident at the plant.
The arrangement aims to enable the evacuation of about 43,000 of around 270,000 residents from Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, which is located within 30 kilometers from the Tokai No. 2 plant, to Kashiwa and five other cities in Chiba Prefecture.
Under the accord, the six cities in Chiba are to set up shelters to be managed by the Mito municipal government. The maximum evacuation period will be one month in principle and Ibaraki Prefecture and Mito will be in charge of securing necessary supplies.
Screenings for radioactive materials and decontamination work will be carried out by the Ibaraki prefectural government.
The nuclear plant located northeast of Tokyo is operated by Japan Atomic Power Co. In September, it cleared a safety screening to resume operations under stricter rules introduced after the March 2011 nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The conclusion of the evacuation accord met with opposition from civic groups in the six cities which claimed the cooperative partnership could be viewed as a step toward the aging plant’s resumption.
The city of Mito has concluded similar accords with municipalities in Ibaraki, Tochigi and Gunma prefectures to evacuate around 180,000 people. It is arranging an agreement to flee the remaining 40,000 residents to Saitama Prefecture.
Eight other municipalities within a 30-km radius of the Tokai No. 2 plant in the village of Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, have also signed evacuation accords with local authorities in nearby prefectures.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Tsunami Couldn’t Have Been Foreseen, Says Fukushima Plant Operator’s Ex-Chaiman

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30.10.2018
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Former chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) Tsunehisa Katsumata said in court on Tuesday that a devastating tsunami that led to the 2011 accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant could not have been predicted, NHK reported.
During the hearing, the former TEPCO chairman said that he was briefed in 2009 on the possibility of a tsunami by a TEPCO official who sounded very skeptical, adding that he believed in the quality of work of the Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division and did not doubt existing safety measures, the NHK broadcaster reported.
Katsumata and ex-vice presidents of TEPCO Ichiro Takekuro and Sakae Muto were accused of professional negligence resulting in death and injury, but all of them denied the charges.
The prosecutors argued that the top management was fully responsible for ensuring security at the nuclear plant, the broadcaster added.
The court hearings will proceed with statements by the families of those whose deaths are linked to the nuclear accident.
In March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude offshore earthquake triggered a 46-foot tsunami that led to the accident and shutdown of the plant. The accident is considered to be the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , , | Leave a comment

Tepco apologizes over inappropriate hashtag for image of crippled Fukushima plant

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A post from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s official Twitter account, seen here, attracted criticism for insensitivity over the Fukushima nuclear disaster
 
Oct 30, 2018
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. has apologized after sharing on social media an image from inside its crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant together with a hashtag that means “fascination with factories.”
After the post attracted a lot of negative attention on the power company’s official Twitter and Instagram accounts, a Tepco official said Monday it had been intended to “give a better understanding to the younger generation” of its operations.
But the firm admitted that its social media post had “lacked consideration.”
The term employed in the hashtag, kōjōmoe, has come into use in recent years with a rise in the number of people enjoying views of factories and plants.
However, the utility’s post, which said “Unit4 Spent Fuel Pool at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station” along with the hashtag, drew a rush of comments such as “Don’t you feel sorry for the nuclear accident?” and “Don’t make a fool of victims” affected by the reactor core meltdowns at the power station following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
It is not the first time that the major power company has been rebuked for being insensitive to public feelings toward the Fukushima crisis, which was the most severe since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
Earlier this year, Tepco halted its sale of file folders with photos showing the current conditions of the Fukushima No. 1 complex, following public criticism.
The folders, offered in a set of three for ¥300, had pictures of the nuclear complex’s No. 1 to No. 4 reactors.
The utility had sold them at two convenience stores on the premises of the complex after people involved in work to scrap the plant asked the utility to sell souvenirs.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

At first beneficiaries, then victims?

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Noriyuki Kowata is seen on a temporary visit to his home in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Futaba, one of two towns that the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant straddles, on Sept, 25, 2018. His yard and vegetable garden were covered in overgrown grass and other vegetation.
 
October 29, 2018
FUTABA, Fukushima — It was late September, and the heat of summer had finally begun to ease. Norikiyo Kowata, 77, was on a temporary visit to his home here, whose screen doors were tattered, having been exposed to the elements for over seven years. His garden, where he used to grow vegetables like butterbur sprouts and myoga ginger, showed signs of having been trampled on by wild hogs.
Ninety-six percent of Futaba — one of two towns straddled by the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Station — is designated by the central government as “areas to which return will be difficult.” Even though Kowata prepares himself mentally, seeing his house in an increasingly dilapidated state every time he visits is hard: “It’s disheartening.”
After the March 2011 disaster broke out at the nearby nuclear station, the entire town was forced to evacuate. Kowata moved from one place to another, including Kazo, Saitama Prefecture, where the Futaba Municipal Government set up shop temporarily, and where a branch of the municipal government still exists. In the summer of 2012, Kowata bought a used single-family home in the Fukushima Prefecture city of Iwaki, where he has since been living with his 70-year-old wife, Mineko. Prior to the nuclear crisis, the couple enjoyed walking in the mountains close to their home in Futaba to forage for mushrooms and wild vegetables. Now that they can no longer do that, their only emotional crutch is their pet dog.
Kowata’s hope to someday return to his hometown faded as he accrued more and more years as an evacuee. Now, a strong sense of resignation has taken over. There are plans to demolish his home in Futaba soon. “I’m old now. It’s sad, of course, since it’s where I lived for 70 years.”
After the onset of the nuclear disaster, along with the growing momentum of the anti-nuclear movement, was criticism for the national government and power companies that had long been building nuclear power plants in regional areas. The common trope was that people living in regional areas who had complied with national policy were now being forced from their homes. Kowata, too, wanted the people of Tokyo — for whom the Fukushima plant was primarily generating electricity — to look that fact straight in the eye. But when he thought about the benefits that he reaped from the nuclear power station, being told he was “sacrificed” for the sake of the big city and the central government didn’t feel quite true.
The Fukushima prefectural towns of Futaba and Okuma decided to host the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in 1961, in the midst of Japan’s rapid economic growth. The central government’s desire to meet the increasing electricity demands of the Tokyo metropolitan area came together with the desire of a regional area that did not want to be left behind in the high-speed economic growth that the country was undergoing. As a result, six massive structures spanning the two towns were built.
The region’s industrial framework, in which residents farmed in the warmer months and became migrant workers elsewhere in the winters, underwent a radical transformation. Following graduation from high school, Kowata had been working in Tokyo as a conductor in the subway system. But he returned to his hometown once the nuclear plant was built, and became a regular employee at Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) in 1971, when the nuclear plant began its operations.
“The pay was good, as were the benefits,” Kowata recalled. “It felt like a big company.” He worked for TEPCO and its affiliates until the age of 65.
Municipal governments that host nuclear power plants are given large amounts of money in subsidies based on the Three Power Source Development Laws. At its peak, the Futaba Municipal Government received over 1 billion yen per year, and nuclear plant-related income, including fixed property tax, enriched town coffers. This allowed for the construction of public facilities and other infrastructure.
“Nuclear power plants are monsters,” Kowata said. “I bet there’s no other mechanism out there that brings that much money and employment to a depopulated area.”
There were some people who warned of the risks of nuclear power. In 1972, some residents launched a Futaba region anti-nuke alliance. However, confronted by the very palpable benefits of the nuclear plant, the movement faded.
In 1991, the Futaba Town Assembly unanimously voted for the additional construction of the No. 7 and No. 8 reactors at the plant. The town’s expenditures were ballooning, due to the cost of maintaining and managing public facilities it had built with subsidies it received from the central government for hosting the nuclear power plant. So in seeking even more of that “nuclear power plant money,” Futaba became more proactive in promoting the national government’s nuclear policy.
Futaba’s mayor at the time was the late Tadao Iwamoto, who served for five terms, four years each, starting in 1985. He was a former prefectural assembly member from the Socialist Party who at one time served as the head of an anti-nuke alliance. But after he became the mayor of Futaba, he promoted community building that assumed coexistence with nuclear power plants.
To his former comrades, this seemed like a sellout, but his son, Hisato Iwamoto, 61, who is the vice-speaker of the Futaba town assembly, argues that nothing had changed, in that his father continued efforts to work for the happiness of the townspeople and for the Futaba region. Hisato said he remembers his father yelling at news reports on the nuclear disaster that were being aired on television in the gymnasium that the family had evacuated to in the Fukushima prefectural city of Minamisoma in March 2011: “What are they doing!” His father subsequently said not a word about the nuclear plant, and died just four months later due to illness at the age of 82.
Akira Kawate, who was formerly a bureaucrat at the Ministry of Home Affairs, the predecessor to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, and subsequently served as Fukushima Prefecture’s deputy governor from 1999 to 2006, looked back on the proposed construction of the No. 7 and No. 8 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. “The prefectural government’s view was that we shouldn’t keep relying on nuclear reactors,” he said. The prefecture, however, was unable to come up with any specific economic revitalization measures to replace nuclear power plants. The additional reactors were never built. Then, in 2011, disaster struck.
Kawate, who now serves as an executive director of a nationwide federation promoting the independence of depopulated regions, understands the obstacles of implementing depopulation countermeasures. “It’s very difficult for municipal governments that have neither the money nor the manpower to be independent. With the exception of Tokyo, all communities must be dependent on the central government, though the extent to which they are may vary,” he said. But, he continued, “There are various ways to think about the relationship between regional areas and the central government, whether it’s the regional areas that are being sacrificed, or they’re the ones shrewdly taking advantage of the central government. It’s OK to have a shrewd outlook on life. It liberates you from emotional subordination.”
Aside from the noise of heavy machinery, the town of Futaba is quiet. Little by little, homes are being torn down and new infrastructure is being built. The plan is to make about 55 hectares of land surrounding JR Futaba Station livable again as a specially designated reconstruction and revitalization zone. If all goes well, evacuation orders for the area will be lifted around the spring of 2022.
If people do not return to the town, however, there will be no town revival. The 7,140 people who lived here at the time the nuclear disaster began are now scattered everywhere, and as of late August this year, 4,074 lived within Fukushima Prefecture, and 2,818 lived outside the prefecture as evacuees. According to a survey of Futaba residents and others conducted in fall of last year, 60 percent of the 1,564 households that responded said that they had “decided not to return.”
Ever since the onset of the nuclear crisis, former TEPCO employee Kowata has been questioning himself over and over again. The nuclear power plant had allowed him to work in his hometown and provide for his family. But if it hadn’t been for the nuclear power plant, the disaster would not have occurred. “I carry a weight on my shoulders.”
Kowata has given up hope on returning to his home in Futaba, but he wants to remain involved in his hometown. His residence registry is still there. “I want to live a long life, and watch what happens to this town,” he says, hopefully.
(Japanese original by Yukinao Kin, Osaka Cultural News Department)

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Gov. Masao Uchibori beats three rivals to secure re-election in Fukushima

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Incumbent Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori receives flowers at his election office in the city of Fukushima on Sunday evening as vote counts suggest he has secured a second-term victory in the gubernatorial election held earlier in the day.
Oct 29, 2018
FUKUSHIMA – Incumbent Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori secured another four-year term in a gubernatorial election Sunday, beating three challengers.
Throughout the election campaign, the 54-year-old governor, who was in his first term, enjoyed a comfortable lead over the other candidates — Jun Kanayama, 78, a self-employed worker, Sho Takahashi, 30, the owner of an IT company, and Kazushi Machida, 42, prefectural chairman of the Japanese Communist Party (JCP).
While all four candidates ran as independents, Uchibori received support from the ruling and opposition parties, except for the JCP.
The prefecture, where there are about 1.6 million eligible voters, is still on the road to recovery following nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, which were triggered by the devastating Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.
During the campaign, Uchibori pledged further efforts to rebuild local communities and promote the return of residents who have moved out of the prefecture due to the disasters, although many voters voiced concerns about the candidates proposing few specific measures to help residents recover from the devastation.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , | Leave a comment

Shikoku Electric restarts Ikata nuclear reactor following failed court challenges

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The No. 3 unit at the Ikata nuclear power plant had been idle since October 2017 before restarting Saturday
 

 

MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREF. – Shikoku Electric Power Co. on Saturday restarted a reactor at its Ikata nuclear power plant after a suspension of nearly one year due to a high court order.
The restart of the No. 3 unit at the plant in the town of Ikata, Ehime Prefecture, announced by the power company overnight Friday, came after a high court accepted an appeal by the utility in a late September ruling that there are no safety risks associated with potential volcanic activity in the region.
The utility said the unit reached criticality, a controlled self-sustaining nuclear fission chain reaction, on Saturday evening as planned.
It said it will start producing and transmitting electricity on Tuesday, before possibly putting the reactor into commercial operation on Nov. 28.
The decision by the Hiroshima High Court was an about-face from its provisional injunction issued in December last year that demanded the power company halt the No. 3 unit until Sept. 30, following a request from a local opposition group. The group argued that Shikoku Electric underestimated the risk of pyroclastic flows reaching the plant if there is a major eruption at Mount Aso, about 130 km away.
The temporary suspension order was the first in which a high court banned operations at a nuclear plant since the 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 complex.
But the high court said on Sept. 25 that the group’s claim of a possible destructive volcanic eruption during the plant’s operating period has no satisfactory grounds and that there is a small chance of volcanic ash and rocks reaching the facility. A Hiroshima court on Friday also rejected a call from residents to have the restart blocked.
The reactor had been idle for maintenance since last October. Before that, it had gone back online in August 2016 after clearing stricter safety regulations implemented in the wake of Fukushima.
“We’d like Shikoku Electric to constantly pursue improvements in safety and reliability, and information disclosure with high transparency,” Ikata Mayor Kiyohiko Takakado said.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Post to begin test deliveries using drones in Fukushima next month

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Oct 27, 2018
Japan Post Co. has said that it will begin to test drone deliveries between two post offices in Fukushima Prefecture next month.
The transport ministry on Friday approved an application by the company for flying a drone without an operator watching the airborne device or an assistant who monitors its movements.
In past test flights, operators flew drones with assistants checking the movements of the devices by eye. This time, flights will be conducted without such an assistant for the first time.
The mail delivery arm of Japan Post Holdings Co. is expected to start the test flights early next month.
“It’s a big step toward realizing delivery services using cutting-edge technologies,” parent company President Masatsugu Nagato told a news conference Friday.
The test deliveries will be conducted between a post office in the city of Minamisoma and another in the town of Namie, about 9 km apart.
Packages of documents weighing up to 2 kg will be transported to their destinations in about 10 minutes. The postal group aims to put the service into commercial use mainly in remote rural areas.

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear Power Will Not Save Us From Climate Change 

The starting point of any serious discussion of climate change must be to recognize that it is not possible to limit global warming to either 1.5 or 2°C in any “resource- and energy-intensive scenario” where economic growth continues in the usual fashion. 

How the IPCC’s solutions for reversing the Earth’s warming encourage business as usual. Yes Magazine,  Nov 02, 2018 The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s special report released in October rightfully elicited much public commentary about global warming and its truly frightening impacts. But in those initial reactions, less attention was paid to the unnerving implications of the report’s suggested solutions, which encourage us to roll the dice on unproven technologies and double down on nuclear power.

Underlying the IPCC report’s claims is the belief that technological solutions can fix the climate problem. Yet these fixes don’t address the root cause of climate change……….

The report outlines four broad pathways to stay within that limit, all of which include large-scale deployment of various technological fixes to climate change.  ………

The scariest of the four pathways outlined in the report is a “resource- and energy-intensive scenario in which economic growth and globalization lead to widespread adoption of greenhouse-gas-intensive lifestyles, including high demand for transportation fuels and livestock products.” In other words, business as usual in a world where the usual business leads to the edge of a cliff. What could justify such an approach? The belief that technology will save us.

These technologies would have to be deployed at massive scales.The amount of carbon dioxide that would have to be captured and stored (i.e., buried) is nearly 1,200 billion tons (gigatons). To put that in perspective, the report also states that “by the end of 2017, anthropogenic CO2 emissions since the preindustrial period are estimated to have reduced the total carbon budget for 1.5°C” by the rough equivalent of 2,200 gigatons of carbon dioxide—give or take 320 gigatons. So, within 80 years, an amount that is more than half of all the CO2 emitted over two and a half centuries will have to be captured and stored using a technology that has not been demonstrated.

Along with these futuristic technologies, a more familiar savior also comes to the rescue: nuclear power. In the report’s “energy-intensive scenario,” nuclear energy has to increase by a factor of around five. Wishful thinking about unproven technologies is easier to understand than the continued faith in the failed project of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy has been generating electricity since the 1950s, with more than 400 nuclear power plants operating in the world today—long enough for us to evaluate its ecological and economic costs, risks, and benefits.

Nuclear energy has been declining, not growing, as a share of the electricity market during the period that climate change has become recognized as an important problem. In 1997, when the Kyoto Protocol was signed, nuclear power’s share of global electricity generation was about 17 percent. Twenty years later, nuclear energy contributed barely 10 percent of global electricity production in 2017. This included a period when the nuclear industry was heralding a renaissance. The downward trend is expected to continue.

Despite governments subsidizing the technology in various ways over the decades, the economics of nuclear energy is a major problem: Nuclear reactors are expensive to construct, and prone to costing more than budgeted and taking longer to build than projected. The flagship projects in Europe—Olkiluoto (Finland) and Flamanville (France)—use the latest reactor design, the EPR (which stands for either European Pressurized Reactor or Evolutionary Power Reactor). In the United States, Vogtle (Georgia) and V. C. Summer (South Carolina) use the Advanced Passive (AP1000) reactor design. What they have in common is unexpected cost increases: Costs at V. C. Summer went up so high that the utility constructing the plant abandoned it after spending billions.

One would think that these trends would lead policymakers to abandon nuclear power, but faith that these failures can be resolved is fueling government and private investments in a new generation of reactor designs—advanced reactors, small modular reactors, and Generation IV reactors. On paper, these look great, just like the EPR and the AP1000. But there is no reason to believe these new designs will prove cheaper than current reactors—unless the designers, constructors, and regulators emphasize lowered costs over safety, which increases the risk of future Chernobyls and Fukushimas.

Back to the panel’s report. The models it uses do not deal with these problems of nuclear energy. They simply assume that nuclear reactors will be built. And because of the focus on CO2 emissions, they don’t highlight the accompanying problems such as increased quantities of radioactive waste that would have to be stored and isolated from human contact for hundreds of thousands of years.

The underlying cause here is “technological fundamentalism,” the belief that the increasing use of evermore sophisticated, high-energy, advanced technology can solve any problem, including those caused by the unintended consequences of earlier technologies. This Panglossian approach allows modelers to state the climate problem can be contained without giving up a social and political system that is founded on continued and endless economic growth.

This belief also allows for the idea that the business-as-usual approach can continue, and the solution is replacing coal, gas, and nuclear plants with solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries or other storage technologies. As supporters of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries like to point out, even these technologies have environmental and social impacts. To live sustainably on this planet—and despite what folks such as Elon Musk might promise, this is the only planet available for the vast majority of the world’s inhabitants—even these more benign technologies have to be limited in scale.

The alternative is obvious. The starting point of any serious discussion of climate change must be to recognize that it is not possible to limit global warming to either 1.5 or 2°C in any “resource- and energy-intensive scenario” where economic growth continues in the usual fashion. To put it more bluntly, one cannot resolve the climate problem under capitalism, which cannot survive without endless growth.

Arguments against capitalism are at least as old as capitalism itself. If one is honest about the implications of the latest report, climate change is providing another compelling argument for fundamental economic change. https://www.yesmagazine.org/planet/nuclear-power-will-not-save-us-from-climate-change-20181102

November 3, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

Impending Climate Catastrophe as World Warms

New UN Report Warns of Impending Catastrophe as World Warms, Glaciers MeltDAHR JAMAIL, TRUTHOUT PART OF THE TRUTHOUT SERIES CLIMATE DISRUPTION DISPATCHES  NOVEMBER 2, 2018 

“One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.” —Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac

“………The biggest news in the corporate media regarding climate change since my last dispatch has been the UN report stating that we have 12 years left to limit a full-on climate change catastrophe. To avoid this fate, we would need to spend those 12 years curbing global emissions dramatically. Essentially, there would need to be a government-mandated plan across the globe that would enable us to limit warming to 1.5 degrees centigrade (1.5°C) rather than the 2°C goal of the 2015 Paris climate talks. Eliminating that extra .5 of warming would save tens of millions of people from sea level rise inundation, and hundreds of millions from water scarcity and a myriad of other catastrophic impacts. Limiting warming to 1.5°C would, scientists have said, require a radical rethinking of virtually every facet of modern society, including an abandonment of our entire fossil-fuel based economy. However, currently, we are headed for at least a 3°C increase by 2100, with no mass government mobilization in sight.

Meanwhile, the warnings that the catastrophe is already upon us continue.

recent study in a paper published August 31 in the journal Science warned that for each degree of rise in global temperature, insect-driven losses to the staple crops of rice, wheat and corn increase by 10-25 percent. Given we are already at 1.1°C warming, we are already seeing these losses, which are sure to increase. “In 2016, the United Nations estimated that at least 815 million people worldwide don’t get enough to eat,” the University of Washington Press wrote of the study. “Corn, rice and wheat are staple crops for about 4 billion people, and account for about two-thirds of the food energy intake, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.”

At the same time, scientists are deeply concerned about the fact that non-pest insect numbers are declining rapidly. Bees, moths, butterflies, ladybugs and other insects are far less abundant, and scientists around the world warn that these insects are crucial to as much as 80 percent of all the food we eat. “You have total ecosystem collapse if you lose your insects,” University of Delaware entomologist Doug Tallamy told the AP. “How much worse can it get than that?”

Meanwhile, in the realm of sea level rise, things are irreversibly catastrophic. A recent study of Antarctic ice sheets shows them to be far more sensitive to temperature increases than previously believed. The study showed that when global temperatures were only slightly warmer than they are currently, sea levels were 20-30 feet higher than they are right now. “It doesn’t need to be a very big warming, as long as it stays 2 degrees warmer for a sufficient time, this is the end game,” David Wilson, a geologist at Imperial College London and one of the authors of the new research told The Washington Post.

Equally disturbingly, lakes in the Arctic are literally bubbling and hissing: They are releasing methane in large quantities as the ground underneath them thaws. Methane is a greenhouse gas 100 times more potent than carbon dioxide on a 10-year timescale, and the widespread release of methane was a key driver of the Permian Mass Extinction event which annihilated more than 90 percent of life on Earth.

Meanwhile, the Arctic sea ice is melting rapidly. Ice extent reached its annual minimum recently, which is normally when the ice would begin reforming rapidly, particularly right in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Instead, the ice continued to decline.

To underscore how governments are not doing enough to mitigate climate change impacts, Brazil, a major greenhouse gas emitting country, recently elected right-wing extremist Jair Bolsonaro as president. To say he is anti-environment (in addition to homophobic, racist and sexist) would be a gross understatement. Known as the Trump of the Tropics, his plans include disempowering federal environmental agencies, opening up Indigenous reserves in the Amazon to mining and farming, and building hydroelectric dams in the rainforest, where deforestation, already at crisis levels, is set to explode.

EarthImpacts of human-caused climate disruption across the terrestrial plane are becoming increasingly stark………

WaterAs usual, climate change-induced disruptions are glaringly apparent in the watery realms of Earth…….

Fire……recent report discussed how wildfire tornadoes, record sizes and temperatures of wildfires, and other seeming anomalies will become phenomena we can expect regularly going into the future, thanks to climate change.

Air

Record-breaking warm temperatures beset Anchorage, Alaska, in September, along with unusually dry weather……..

Denial and Reality

In a recent interview, Donald Trump, who had called human-caused climate change “a Chinese hoax,” said it is real, “but I don’t know that it’s manmade.” He also said the climate will “change back again” — whatever that means…..https://truthout.org/articles/new-un-report-warns-of-impending-catastrophe-as-world-warms-glaciers-melt/

November 3, 2018 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

Donald Trump ready to reimpose all nuclear sanctions on Iran

Trump set to reimpose all nuclear sanctions on Iran The Hill, BY REBECCA KHEEL – The Trump administration plans to reimpose the last set of sanctions lifted under the Iran nuclear deal early next week, administration officials announced Friday.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo confirmed in a call with reporters that the administration will grant waivers to eight “jurisdictions” when it reimposes oil and gas sanctions on Monday.

“This part of the campaign about which we’re speaking today is simple: It is aimed at depriving the regime of the revenues that it uses to spread death and destruction around the world,” Pompeo said.

“We expect to issue some temporary allotments to eight jurisdictions, but only because they have demonstrated significant reductions in crude oil and cooperation on many other fronts and have made important moves toward getting to zero crude oil importation.”

Pompeo did not specify which eight jurisdictions are getting waivers, saying a list would be released Monday. Asked if the use of the word “jurisdiction” meant that the European Union, a group of 28 countries, is getting waiver, Pompeo said the E.U. is not being granted a waiver.

In May, Trump announced that he was withdrawing the United States from what he once called the “worst deal ever negotiated.”…………

Friday’s announcement drew immediate condemnation from those who supported the nuclear deal.

“These sanctions are a slap in the face to the Iranian people who have been squeezed between the repression of their government and the pressure of international sanctions for decades,” Jamal Abdi, president of the National Iranian American Council, said in a statement. “Impoverishing ordinary Iranians will not hurt the regime or achieve any of America’s security interests, but it will set back the Iranian people’s aspirations for years to come.” https://thehill.com/policy/defense/414526-trump-set-to-reimpose-all-nuclear-sanctions-on-iran

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Iran, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Preparation for nuclear international inspections – North Korea

North Korea is reportedly preparing nuclear and missile sites for international inspectors, CNBC, Wed, 31 Oct 2018  

  • South Korea’s spy agency has observed preparations by North Korea for international inspections at several of its nuclear and missile test sites, the Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday.
  • Kim Min-ki of the ruling Democratic Party told reporters that intelligence officials had observed what they believed to be preparations for possible inspections at Punggye-ri nuclear test site and the Sohae Satellite launching ground.

South Korea’s spy agency has observed preparations by North Korea for international inspections at several of its nuclear and missile test sites, the Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday, citing a South Korean lawmaker………

Washington has demanded steps such as a full disclosure of the North’s nuclear and missile facilities, before agreeing to Pyongyang’s key goals, including an easing of international sanctions and an official end to the Korean War.

American officials have been skeptical of Kim’s commitment to giving up nuclear weapons, but the North’s pledge at the summit with the South drew an enthusiastic response from President Donald Trumphttps://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/31/north-korea-reportedly-readies-nuclear-missile-sites-for-inspectors.html

November 3, 2018 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Former SCANA accountant tells how nuclear financial document was “doctored”

SCANA accountant says CEO put her on medical leave over complaints about nuclear project, Independent Mail, Avery G. Wilks, The State  Nov. 2, 2018 COLUMBIA — In newly unsealed documents, a former SCANA employee says the utility’s then-chief executive, Kevin Marsh, put her on “special medical leave” after she went to him with concerns about a failing, $9 billion nuclear project.

Carlette Walker, once SCANA’s vice president of Nuclear Finance Administration, also testified that, in 2015, her bosses filed misleading testimony under her name with state regulators about how much the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion project would cost.

Carlette Walker, once SCANA’s vice president of Nuclear Finance Administration, also testified that, in 2015, her bosses filed misleading testimony under her name with state regulators about how much the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station expansion project would cost.

“While I was out, they wrote testimony under my name, and they filed testimony under my name with the (lower cost) number that I had fought against,” Walker said in an April 24 deposition.

Walker’s full sworn statement — parts had been released before with sections blacked out, or redacted — was made public Thursday as the S.C. Public Service Commission began its weeks-long hearing into the nuclear-related power rates of SCE&G, SCANA’s electric subsidiary.

A spokesman for SCE&G said the utility would not comment except during the PSC hearing.

Previously, most of the pages of Walker’s 187-page deposition had been at least partially blacked out at SCE&G’s request. However, PSC hearing officer David Butler ruled Wednesday the entire document should be made public.

The state’s utility watchdog, the Office of Regulatory Staff, plans to use Walker’s deposition as evidence SCE&G misled the PSC — which sets utility rates — in order to keep the project alive, and its revenues and executive bonuses flowing.

In her deposition, Walker said she had projected the cost to finish the floundering project was about $500 million higher than contractors had estimated. But, she said, her SCANA bosses submitted the contractors’ lower numbers — which she considered unrealistic — to regulators in her name while she was out of work on leave, taking care of her sick husband.

Another former SCE&G employee, Ken Browne, said in his deposition the contractor’s cost projections were based upon productivity rates that V.C. Summer construction workers never had attained. Work was going so slowly, the project could have taken far longer — until 2030 — to complete, Browne said.

According to Walker’s deposition, when Browne objected internally to SCE&G using the lower cost submitted to the PSC, under Walker’s name, he was “pretty much cussed out by (SCE&G outside attorney) Mitch Willoughby and put in his place, and so he just shut up.”

In the formerly redacted portions of her deposition, Walker said she went to both then-SCANA CEO Marsh and current CEO Jimmy Addison — then the company’s chief financial officer — with concerns about the nuclear project in the fall of 2015………. https://www.independentmail.com/story/news/2018/11/02/v-c-summer-nuclear-station-fiasco-scana-accountant-put-leave/1856615002/

November 3, 2018 Posted by | Legal, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment