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What if the money for nuclear weapons was used for health care? — limitless life

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via What if the money for nuclear weapons was used for health care? — limitless life

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“Coronavirus Capitalism”: Naomi Klein’s Case for Transformative Change Amid Coronavirus Pandemic — Rise Up Times

 

“Klein argues it’s vital for people to fight for the kind of transformative change that can not only curb the worst effects of the current crisis but also set society on a more just path.”

via “Coronavirus Capitalism”: Naomi Klein’s Case for Transformative Change Amid Coronavirus Pandemic — Rise Up Times

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Fukushima compensation guidelines need further revision

hgjlklmùThe difficult-to-return-zone around Ono Station on the JR Joban Line in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture is empty on March 1. A part of evacuation order was lifted on March 5, but most of the area remains eerily the same as when the nuclear disaster happened in 2011.

 

March 19, 2020

The Sendai and Tokyo high courts recently said in separate rulings that Tokyo Electric Power Co. should pay more in compensation to victims of the 2011 accident at the company’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Some 30 class action lawsuits have been filed by people who were forced to evacuate from their homes in the wake of the nuclear disaster to seek damages beyond the amounts the electric utility has agreed to pay. 

The fact that the two rulings, the first high court decisions concerning these cases, both questioned the adequacy of the existing Fukushima compensation program is highly significant in its legal and policy implications.

During the trials, the plaintiffs argued that it is difficult to return to their homes even if the evacuation orders are lifted. Even if they return, they claimed, they will face local towns and communities that have been radically altered by the accident.

The two high courts acknowledged the seriousness of the corrosive effects of what these victims call “the loss and transformation” of their hometowns and ruled that they deserve to be compensated for this problem in addition to damages for being forced to flee their homes and the mental anguish caused by their lives as evacuees.

The courts awarded the plaintiffs additional damages beyond the amounts the company has already paid.

The utility has adamantly refused to pay any blanket compensation to victims beyond the amounts based on the guidelines set by the Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation, a panel established within the government to settle disputes over compensation for victims of the Fukushima disaster.

TEPCO has also rejected deals to settle these class action suits proposed by the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center, a body created to help resolve such disputes through simplified procedures.

The company has even turned down a compromise recommendation issued by the Fukushima District Court based on arguments during a trial over a compensation dispute it had heard.

Clearly, the company fears that accepting such a deal would affect the entirety of its compensation talks and cause the total of damages it has to pay to soar.

After the devastating accident, however, TEPCO made “three vows.” It pledged to pay compensation to all victims without leaving a single one uncompensated, ensure that compensation will be paid quickly according to individual circumstances and respect proposals to settle disputes.

As the company that is responsible for the unprecedented nuclear accident, TEPCO has a duty to make sincere responses to the high court rulings in line with its own vows.

The government, which has promoted nuclear power generation as a national policy and is effectively the largest shareholder of the utility, has the responsibility to provide strict guidance for the company’s actions concerning the matter.

The two rulings have also brought to the fore some shortcomings of the guidelines set by the dispute reconciliation committee.

Established immediately after the accident, the guidelines are obviously out of tune with the complicated realities of the accident’s aftermath despite several revisions that have been made.

The “loss and transformation” of hometowns is a consequence of the accident that has become clearly visible over the nine years that have passed since that day in 2011.

It is time for the government to have some in-depth debate on the effects of this problem on affected people and embark on a sweeping review of the guidelines.

The high court rulings are not totally acceptable, however. Arguing that the money TEPCO has already paid covers part of the additional damages owed to the victims, the rulings only awarded the plaintiffs 1 million yen to 2.5 million yen ($23,000) per head in additional compensation.

Many victims have criticized the amounts for being “too small to be fitting compensation for the actual damage” suffered by the victims.

There is no easy solution to this complicated problem. But that does not justify inaction in the face of such gross injustice.

All the parties concerned need to offer ideas and ingenuity to spare the victims the need to spend any more effort and time with regard to compensation issues.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13227560

 

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

State funds to be juggled to cover cleanup costs from Fukushima

okuma storage facilityInterim storage facilities for radioactive waste from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster are shown in the foreground in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture. Seen in the background is the nuclear complex.

 

March 18, 2020

The government has moved to revise a law to allow for the diversion of budgetary funds set aside for the promotion of renewable energy to help cover ballooning costs related to the storage of radioactive waste produced during cleanup work after the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Tax revenues appropriated for renewable-related projects are not permitted to be used for nuclear power programs under the special account law, which governs budgets allocated for specific purposes.

Earlier this month, however, the government submitted a bill to the Diet to revise the law to make the diversion of funds legal. It plans to enact the legislation during the current Diet session and put the revised law into force in April 2021.

This would be the first time for a revenue source earmarked for a specific expenditure to be diverted to a different purpose.

But the revision bill is likely to draw criticism from the public as it concerns the divisive issue of nuclear power and raises further questions about the government’ longstanding insistence that nuclear power is an inexpensive energy source.

Energy-related expenditures are booked under the government’s special account, separately from the general account.

These expenditures are grouped into more categories, such as one for nuclear energy and another for renewable energy sources.

About 300 billion yen ($2.78 billion) a year is allocated for programs associated with nuclear energy, including grants to local governments hosting nuclear power plants, while 800 billion yen or so is set aside to promote renewable energy, energy saving efforts and ensuring a stable energy supply.

Revenues for nuclear energy-related programs are collected under the promotion of power resources development tax, which are levied on electricity rates. Those for renewables are collected from businesses importing petroleum and coal under the petroleum and coal tax.

They are project-specific tax revenues, meaning they cannot be used for other purposes. The amount of those budgets remains at similar levels each year. 

The government’s move was prompted by runaway costs to process a vast volume of contaminated waste due to the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and maintain them in interim storage facilities in Fukushima Prefecture.

The government decided to shoulder some of the costs to help Tokyo Electric Power Co, operator of the stricken plant, and gained Cabinet approval to do so in December 2013.

Since fiscal 2014, it has set aside about 35 billion yen annually for the interim storage facilities. The funds come from revenues earmarked for nuclear energy-related projects in the special account.

But expenditures concerning the storage facilities are running a lot higher than initially envisaged.

An estimate released in late 2016 by the Ministry of Trade, Economy and Industry showed that the project will eventually cost 1.6 trillion yen, compared with an initial projection of 1.1 trillion yen.

The government has allocated an additional 12 billion yen annually for the storage facility project since fiscal 2017.

Government officials say the price tag could further increase in coming years, likely leaving the government with scant financial resources to cover the project.

The revision bill has a clause stipulating that funds diverted to nuclear energy-related programs must eventually be returned to renewable energy project-specific tax revenues.

But it remains unclear if the clause will ease objections from opponents of nuclear energy, even if the fund diversion is a temporary measure.

Yoshikazu Miki, former president of Aoyama Gakuin University and a specialist of the tax system in Japan, called on the government to justify its proposed fund diversion by providing a full explanation of the issue.

A special account budget has rarely been scrutinized during Diet debate, unlike the general account,” Miki said. “The revision bill requires special attention as it is related to a nuclear power plant. Some members of the public may raise objections to the revision. The government needs to explain the matter to taxpayers to defend its need to act in this way.” 

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13225190

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Tokyo High Court slashes damages to Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees

n-fukushimaruling-a-20200319-870x637Isao Enei (left), head of a group of plaintiffs seeking damages for evacuating after the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant accident, speaks at a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo alongside their attorney Junichiro Hironaka.

 

March18, 2020

The Tokyo High Court on Tuesday ordered ¥1 million in additional damages be paid each to some 300 evacuees from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, down by two-thirds from the amount awarded by a lower court ruling.

The total amount of additional compensation Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. must pay was reduced to about ¥360 million from the ¥1.1 billion awarded by the Tokyo District Court in 2018.

The nuclear accident occurred at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tepco, after it was affected by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In their petition, the plaintiffs, including former residents of the Odaka district in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, sought additional damages of ¥10.9 billion in total.

The ruling was the second by a high court on a collective damages lawsuit filed by those displaced by the nuclear accident, following one issued by Sendai High Court last week.

On Tuesday, presiding Judge Wataru Murata said Tepco must pay additional damages on top of the ¥8.5 million it paid per person based on estimates calculated under government-set interim standards.

The additional damages have to be paid to compensate for the loss of hometowns, as “the foundations of residents’ lives have changed greatly and have yet to be restored,” Murata said.

But the amount of the additional damages should be reduced because individual circumstances of the evacuees should not be taken into account, Murata said, denying the need for such consideration as had been recognized by the lower court.

The reduction is unavoidable, also considering that returning to hometowns is possible,” the judge concluded.

Plaintiff Isao Enei criticized the latest ruling at a news conference, saying that actual circumstances in areas hit by the nuclear disaster were completely ignored.

There is no point in filing a collective suit if individual damages are ignored. The ruling is inconceivable,” said Junichiro Hironaka, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/18/national/crime-legal/tokyo-high-court-slashes-damages-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-evacuees/#.XnNDrXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan Olympics Official Tests Positive For COVID-19 As Training Camps Canceled Across Country

olympics officialThe deputy head of Japan’s Olympics Committee has coronavirus after reportedly experiencing a mild fever on Sunday after returning from a trip to Europe and the United States, according to the Wall Street Journal.

 

March 17, 2020

Kozo Tashima, who is also the president of Japan’s Football Association, was in Orlando, Florida on March 5 where he watched the Japanese women’s soccer national team play against Spain. While in the US he lobbied for Japan to host the women’s soccer World Cup during meetings held in New York – before returning to Japan on March 8.

“My symptoms didn’t start until March 14, so I wasn’t a major infection risk to others, but I apologize to those who were in meetings with me, JFA executives, the media and others I may have been in close contact with,” said Tashima in a statement, adding that his condition isn’t serious.

Mr. Tashima is almost certain to be unable to attend the next executive board meeting for the Olympic organizing committee at the end of this month, at which the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be on the agenda. Mr. Tashima is one of 25 executive board members who attend meetings every few months to review Olympic planning. –Wall Street Journal

While government officials said on Tuesday that they intend to hold the Olympics during the pandemic, with spectators and without changes to the scale of the event scheduled to begin July 24, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has begun to change his tone, according to TIME.

Abe and his cabinet, as well as the organizers and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, had until days ago been unanimous in insisting the Games would be staged as scheduled. But, following a G-7 leaders’ video conference on the coronavirus Monday, Abe avoided comment on the timing of the event.

I want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics perfectly, as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus, and I gained support for that from the G-7 leaders,” he told reporters after the event.

Asked whether the timing of the event was discussed, Abe repeated the same phrases without answering directly. He also used similar words when asked about the issue in parliament Monday. –TIME

Meanwhile, NHK reports that foreign countries’ national team training camps for the Olympic and Paralympic games have been canceled or postponed in 16 cities across Japan.

Cancellations include the table tennis and gymnastics team from Colombia, which planned on training in the western city of Kitakyushu, as well as Britain’s wheelchair basketball team which had scheduled practice in Urayasu City near Tokyo.

NHK also reports that events or projects to promote exchanges between foreign athletes and local residents have been canceled or postponed in approximately 60 municipalities throughout Japan – including a project by Matsukawa Town in Nagano Prefecture which planned to send high school students to Costa Rica.

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/japan-olympics-official-tests-positive-covid-19-training-camps-canceled-across-country?fbclid=IwAR2VGIukAzMDliLCqTCRr7s_7w76lBut1xhZuAvyQVsAxyAGkAXkmd48UJY

 

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Japanese Prime Minister Gives First Hints Tokyo Olympics Could Be Postponed

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March 17, 2020

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has begun to shift his messaging on the Tokyo Olympics, in a sign he may have accepted that the deadly coronavirus will make it necessary to postpone the event planned to start in July.

Abe and his cabinet, as well as the organizers and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, had until days ago been unanimous in insisting the Games would be staged as scheduled. But, following a G-7 leaders’ video conference on the coronavirus Monday, Abe avoided comment on the timing of the event.

I want to hold the Olympics and Paralympics perfectly, as proof that the human race will conquer the new coronavirus, and I gained support for that from the G-7 leaders,” he told reporters after the event.

Sporting events around the globe have been called off, delayed or held without spectators because of the virus, raising questions on whether it would be safe to bring hundreds of thousands of athletes, officials and spectators together in Tokyo. Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump suggested the Tokyo Olympics should be pushed back a year.

Asked whether the timing of the event was discussed, Abe repeated the same phrases without answering directly. He also used similar words when asked about the issue in parliament Monday.

Abe’s comments come after a poll showed almost two thirds of Japanese voters thought the Olympics should be postponed due to the pandemic. Japan’s prime minister had been closely associated with Tokyo hosting the games — flying to Buenos Aires in 2013 to make a bid for Japan’s case in person and appearing at the closing ceremonies for the Rio Games four years ago dressed as the Super Mario video game character to promote Tokyo 2020.

The politics of delaying the games have shifted. In the early days of the crisis, delaying would have been an admission that Abe had failed to manage it. Now that it’s a global crisis, delaying may be what’s necessary to defend the Japanese people,” Tobias Harris, a Japan analyst for Teneo Intelligence in Washington, wrote on Twitter.

Proceed As Planned?

With a growing number of qualifying events already canceled, the summer start date is looking increasingly impracticable. The Tokyo Organizing Committee is asking that spectators stay away from Japan’s torch relay beginning at the end of the month, Kyodo News reported, an event usually expected to drum up excitement for the games.

Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto later denied that Abe’s comments meant any delay to the event.

Holding it perfectly means preparing properly to hold it as planned, and working together to that end,” she said Tuesday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga also said there was no change to Japan’s preparations.

The French Olympic committee chief was reported as saying earlier that the virus must be on the wane by late May to allow the Tokyo Games to take place in July.

In response, Hashimoto reiterated that the International Olympic Committee had the authority to make the decision.

I am aware of various individual opinions, but the government’s position is to provide support in close cooperation with the IOC, the organizing committee and the Tokyo metropolitan government,” she said.

The Olympic Games haven’t been canceled since the summer of 1944, when they were called off due to World War Two.

 

https://time.com/5804519/tokyo-olympics-coronavirus-postpone/?fbclid=IwAR3GaAf26l2-29iA9lmhsprobmzwLj8x2vRhizT7OltG_JcYHzNCOavdBfs

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Sendai nuclear reactor 1 offline because not meeting safety requirements

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March 16, 2020

The operator of a nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan has suspended one of its reactors as it cannot meet the deadline for building mandatory facilities to deal with emergencies.

Kyushu Electric Power Company began work to reduce output at the No.1 reactor at the Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture at 2:30 a.m. on Monday. The reactor went offline at 1:01 p.m.

Kyushu Electric will start regular inspections on the reactor earlier than scheduled.

This is the first time for a reactor to go offline because of its failure to meet the government’s new regulations.

The regulations were drawn up in 2013 after the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant two years earlier.

They require nuclear plant operators to construct facilities to ensure the safety of reactors in the event of emergencies such as acts of terror and aircraft crashes.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, or NRA, obliges the operators to erect such facilities within five years of construction plans being approved.

Kyushu Electric says it aims to put the reactor back online after completing the necessary facilities by December and gaining approval from the NRA.

The utility also plans to shut down the No.2 reactor at the Sendai plant in May for failing to meet the deadline.

Kansai Electric Power Company is also expected to suspend the No.3 and No.4 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture in August and October respectively for the same reason.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200316_35/

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

70% do not expect Tokyo Olympics to be held as scheduled: Kyodo poll

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March 15, 2020

A total of 69.9 percent of people do not expect the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer to be held as scheduled amid the global outbreak of the novel coronavirus, a Kyodo News survey showed Monday.

The poll, conducted from Saturday to Monday by phone, comes as Japan continues with preparations for the Olympics, from July 24 to Aug. 9, and the Paralympics, from Aug. 25 to Sept. 6, with Abe saying he has no immediate plan to declare a state of emergency, and that the Summer Games will go ahead as scheduled.

Even though public opinion is split on how well the government has responded to the crisis, the approval rating for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Cabinet rose to 49.7 percent from 41.0 percent in February.

Of those who said they approved of the administration, 53.4 percent responded that it was because there were no other appropriate choices besides Abe.

Since the previous opinion poll in mid-February, steps have been taken by Abe’s government to combat the spread of the virus, including requesting large events be canceled, and schools be shut through the start of the new academic year in April, relief measures for businesses and tougher border control measures, especially for travelers from China and South Korea.

In the survey with 1,032 respondents, 48.3 percent said the government measures against the virus are appropriate, while 44.3 percent said they disapprove of them.

The spread of the pneumonia-causing virus has halted a significant amount of international and domestic travel.

To ease the adverse effects of the outbreak, Abe has introduced zero-interest loans for small and midsize companies that are in a cash crunch due to sharp falls in sales as part of funding packages totaling 1.5 trillion yen ($14 billion).

Still, 90.7 percent of the respondents said they are worried or somewhat worried about the economic impact of the new coronavirus outbreak, an increase from 82.5 percent in the previous poll.

A total of 71.8 percent answered that the school closures aimed at preventing a further spread of the virus were appropriate or somewhat appropriate, while 83.1 percent supported the implementation of tougher border control measures for travelers from China and South Korea, a move which has hit Japan’s tourism industry hard.

The virus has claimed the lives of at least 31 people in Japan, and more than 1,500 people have been infected with it, including about 700 cases from a cruise ship that was quarantined near Tokyo.

As Abe has been facing severe criticism over the handling of documents related to publicly funded annual cherry blossom viewing parties that are at the center of yet another scandal alleging cronyism, 82.5 percent said he failed to explain himself to the public over the issue sufficiently.

The survey, covering 739 randomly selected households with eligible voters and 1,219 mobile phone numbers, obtained responses from 512 and 520 people, respectively.

https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/03/c44332182570-urgent-70-do-not-expect-tokyo-olympics-to-be-held-as-scheduled-kyodo-poll.html?fbclid=IwAR2OkeV6C-aL7x_W7DlMUmsSBift5sozEdExA8xhw-ULZGeECHbcn6PdhOE

 

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

JR East’s Joban Line fully reopens after nine long years following Fukushima disaster

b-tohoku-a-20200315-870x541A train stops at Ono Station on the Joban Line in the town of Okuma, near the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, on Saturday as the long-suspended train line connecting Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture fully resumes service.

 

Mar 14, 2020

FUKUSHIMA – After nine long years, service on the Joban Line is fully back on track.

The reopening of a 20.8 kilometer stretch between Tomioka and Namie near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant means that all Tohoku train lines have now completely reopened following the March 2011 triple disaster.

While some anticipate that the improvement of public transport in disaster-hit areas along Fukushima Prefecture’s Pacific coast will lead to an increase in visitors and regional revitalization, others say the impact will be limited as cars remain the mode of transportation of choice for most residents.

Prior to reopening, JR East had offered bus services for the closed section of the Joban Line, a 344-kilometer route that connects Tokyo and Miyagi Prefecture.

Nine JR and private railway lines took more than a year to reopen following the disaster, according to the transport ministry.

The Rias Line, operated by Sanriku Railway Co., had been repaired following the 2011 disaster but was again damaged by Typhoon Hagibis last October.

With services fully resumed, limited express trains linking Tokyo with Sendai, the capital of Miyagi, will make three round-trips per day.

Among the five stations along the recently reopened section, three are in the towns of Futaba and Okuma, which host the crippled plant of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., as well as Tomioka.

The three municipalities had been designated by the government as a no-go zone due to high radiation levels. The entry ban was gradually lifted in Okuma and Tomioka and the restrictions for areas near the stations in the three towns were newly removed earlier this month.

As of March 1, only 1,943 people reside in Okuma and Tomioka, while no one lives in Futaba. The three towns had a combined population of around 34,000 prior to the disaster.

Repair work on the damaged stretch of the Joban Line was long-delayed as most of it was located in a zone marked as having high levels of radiation, JR East said.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/03/14/business/corporate-business/jr-east-joban-line-reopen-fukushima-disaster/#.Xm0J8XJCeUk

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Japan’s 3/11 Recovery Stalled by Fukushima Decommissioning Delays

thediplomat-2020-03-13-3

March 13, 2020

Delays in dismantling the disaster-stricken nuclear power complex cast doubt on whether recovery goals will move forward according to schedule.

Nine years after a quake-triggered tsunami sparked a triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, decontamination and decommissioning continues in northeastern Japan. The ultimate goal of removing all debris is expected to take anywhere between 30 to 40 years, but progress has been slower than originally planned. So far just one-fourth of decommission work has been completed, drawing attention to work that has not yet begun.

The Fukushima decommissioning and decontamination draft has been amended five times. While changes published in December offered a specific time frame for the first time, the latest timetable for debris removal has been pushed back five years, citing the need for additional safety precautions. Previously, the process of removing spent fuel was scheduled from 2021 to 2024. But work on reactor two looks more likely to start in 2025 and last until 2027, followed by reactor one work commencing sometime between March 2028 and March 2029.

The powerful tsunami, which reached over 40 meters in some areas, took the lives of 22,167 people. At the same time, the loss of power to the entire Fukushima Daiichi plant caused reactors one, two, and three to overheat, sparking hydrogen explosions and the release of radioactive contaminants. This forced 160,000 survivors to evacuate. Despite evacuation orders being lifted in some of the “difficult to return” areas, many still opt to stay away from their homes nine years later.

The next decommissioning stage sets out the removal of 4,471 spent fuel rods inside the cooling pools of reactors one to six. But the biggest obstacle is finding a way to locate and remove the molten nuclear fuel. With frequent delays, evacuees face a constant sense of uncertainty, tangled in a waiting game to see whether decommissioning work can be completed in 30 years.

Reactor two is seen as the safest and easiest option to start full-scale debris removal since it suffered the least structural damage with only “some fuel” melting through the pressure vessel and accumulating at the bottom of the containment vessel.  But with no established method for debris retrieval, attempts to survey the location and distribution of molten nuclear fuel among the rubble requires a lengthy trial and error process. In mid-February 2019 an attempt to probe and collect samples from reactor two failed to find and lift the main nuclear fuel debris, instead lifting portions of pebble-like sediment with the lowest radiation readings from the surface. At this stage there is no way for TEPCO, the company that owns the Fukushima Daiichi plant, to determine where fuel debris lies among the rest of the metal debris. It’s estimated that reactor two alone contains 237 metric tons of debris while reactors one and three contain a combined 880 tons. The complexity of debris removal requires developing specialized technology that does not yet exist.

Also plaguing decommissioning efforts is the battle over how to safely dispose of 1 million tons of contaminated water that were used to cool nuclear fuel. Currently, huge tanks on the premises store the polluted runoff, which could fill 400 Olympic swimming pools, but space is expected to run out by mid-2022.

On average 170 tons of contaminated water is produced to cool fuel in nuclear reactors. Without constant cooling, nuclear fuel risks melting from its own heat in a process called decay heat. With two years needed to prepare a disposal method, time is running out for a final decision.

Government proposals to slowly release contaminated water into the ocean has sparked fierce backlash from locals and the agriculture and fishing industries, who argue traces of radioactive materials such as tritium still found in “treated” water could further harm a region still struggling to restore its international reputation.

Last month, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chief Rafael Mariano Grossi visited the Fukushima nuclear power plant where he commended the government’s “dual approach” of decommissioning the plant while revitalizing the local community. Grossi said the IAEA could help provide reassurance to the public that Japan’s plan to release treated water into the ocean meets international standards.

To make matters worse, decommissioning operations have been temporarily suspended due to the spread of coronavirus. Tepco was forced to cancel on-site inspections of reactor one scheduled during March, which would have brought together some 1,800 experts and members of parliament, as well as local residents and student groups.

https://thediplomat.com/2020/03/japans-3-11-recovery-stalled-by-fukushima-decommissioning-delays/

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

‘Fukushima’s radioactive water discharge is important to Koreans’

optimizeGreenpeace nuclear campaigner Shaun Burnie in front of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, five years after the accident. The environmental organization has launched an underwater investigation into the marine impacts of radioactive contamination on the Pacific Ocean resulting from the 2011 nuclear disaster,

By Bahk Eun-ji

March 13, 2020

Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany, has been working in Fukushima since 1997 to stop the operation of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, with much of his time based in Japan.

Among a number of nuclear experts around the world who have been condemning the Japanese government’s plan to discharge radioactive water from the destroyed Fukushima power plant into the Pacific Ocean, Burnie claims this issue is clearly important to Koreans as they understand the risks of nuclear energy and care about the environment.

“Fukushima is a defining issue of this time as it continues to pose a threat to the environment not just of Japan but the Asia Pacific region. This is a nuclear disaster with no end and Koreans realize that only by speaking up and opposing bad decisions can the progress be made in protecting our environment,” he said.

The nuclear expert said the opposition in Korea to the Japanese government’s plan to discharge contaminated water from Fukushima is entirely justified and essential, so the opposition should continue here in Korea. At the same time, Koreans also should be supporting the local Japanese communities who are opposed to the discharges.

Burnie also said the discharges of the contaminated water are a direct threat to the marine ecosystem and human health as all radioactivity has the potential to cause harm as technically there is no safe level of exposure. The discharges are more than tritium, which can cause damage to human and non-human DNA, but also many other radionuclides such as strontium that, even if processing of the contaminated water is successful, will still be discharged in enormous quantities.

“None of this can be justified from an environmental perspective when there is a clear alternative ― long term storage and processing to remove radionuclides, including tritium.”

The Japanese government has sought for many years to deny that there are radiation risks in Fukushima, which is a central part of their strategy to support nuclear power. By creating the illusion that Fukushima has recovered from the 2011 disaster, the Japanese government think they can convince people to support the restarting of nuclear reactors although the majority of Japanese people are against it.

“It is one reason why the human rights of tens of thousands of Fukushima citizens, including women and children, as well as tens of thousands of workers are violated consistently by the Japanese government,” he said.
https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/nation/2020/03/371_286064.html

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima cleanup struggle focuses on what to do with contaminated water

Fukushima disaster shook the world, one of the biggest impediments to cleaning up the site in Northeastern Japan is coming from an unexpected source: The water.

 

2013_Fukushima_NB-2-300x199A waterlogged radiation and tsunami warning sign found on Fukushima beaches in 2013

March 13, 2020

Nine years after the Fukushima disaster shook the world, one of the biggest impediments to cleaning up the site in Northeastern Japan is coming from an unexpected source: The water.

That water, specifically 1.2 million tons of it, is still radioactive. Stored in 1,000 special tanks on the site of the nuclear power plant’s ruins, it’s taking up needed space – which the Japanese government plans to free up by dumping it into the sea.

But local residents, especially fishermen are opposed to that plan, telling touring reporters on the nine-year anniversary of the disaster that the water release would further damage the already battered reputation of fisheries – where sales remain at only half of what they were before the catastrophe.

Under discussion are two possible ways of disposing of Fukushima’s contaminated water. According to a government report released earlier this year, one possibility is that technicians could dilute the water to levels below the allowable safety limits, and then release it into the sea in a controlled way. The other is to allow the water to evaporate over the course of several years.

The dilemma over what do with the water is part of the complicated aftermath of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit on March 11, 2011. A wall of water destroyed cooling capabilities at the Fukushima nuclear plant and three of its six nuclear reactors melted down, forcing the evacuation of 160,000 people.

In the days that followed the quake, the Fukushima-Daiichi plant was rocked by hydrogen explosions, which burst through the roofs of the three afflicted reactors, sending radioactive iodine, cesium and other fission by-products belching into the environment. Millions of liters of water were pumped from the ocean to cool the overheating reactors, cascading contamination into the sea.

 

2013_Fukushima_NB-1-1024x714A clock stopped at the time the tsunami gushed in from the sea found in the destruction of a beach community in Fukushima.

Ever since then, the name of Fukushima has become synonymous with Chernobyl – the world’s other most notorious nuclear disaster – in connoting catastrophe, contamination and mass human evacuation.

Officials with Tokyo Electrical Power Co, or Tepco, say that the excess water they have collected must be disposed of so they can build facilities they need to begin the retrieval of radioactive debris within the reactors.

That wreckage is slated for removal by December 2021. Remote control cranes are being used to dismantle the cooling tower of the No 2 reactor, the first from which molten nuclear fuel was removed. Spent nuclear fuel stored in a pool at the No 3 reactor is being removed ahead of attempts to remove that reactor’s melted down fuel.

As the Associated Press reported, most above ground areas at the Fukushima plant can now be visited with minimal protective gear and a Geiger counter. The radioactive remains of the reactor buildings are, however, still off limits.

But areas underground beneath the plant remain extremely hazardous. Radioactive cooling water is leaking from the melted-down reactors and mixing with groundwater. The groundwater then must be pumped out to keep it from leaking into the sea. Other contaminated water – some of which was initially sprayed and dumped on the reactors while they were melting down – sit in other underground locations, leaking continuously into groundwater outside the plant.

Tepco has attempted to remove most radionuclides — like cesium and strontium – from the excess water, but the technology does not exist to cleanse it of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. Coastal nuclear plants commonly dump water that contains tritium, which occurs naturally in nature, and Japanese officials insist it is harmless when ingested in small quantities.

But many are not pleased with Tepco’s assurances. Katsumi Shozugawa, a radiology expert at the University of Tokyo who has studied Fukushima’s groundwater, told the AP that long term, low-level radiation exposure in the food chain is poorly understood.

At this point, it is difficult to predict a risk,” he told AP. “Once the water is released into the environment, it will be very difficult to follow up and monitor its movement. So the accuracy of the data before any release is crucial and must be verified.”

https://bellona.org/news/nuclear-issues/2020-03-fukushima-cleanup-struggle-focuses-on-what-to-do-with-contaminated-water

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Starting the Olympic torch relay in Fukushima should remind us of the dangers of nuclear power

FILES-OLY-2020-TOKYO-JPN-JAPAN-NUCLEAR-FUKUSHIMAA woman protests against the Olympics and the government’s nuclear energy policy Feb. 29 in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where the Olympic torch relay begins this month.

March 13, 2020

VANCOUVER – If the Tokyo Olympics are held on schedule, thousands of athletes will soon come to Japan. Considering the multiple reactors that melted down there nine years ago, in March 2011, the government’s decision to start the ceremonial torch relay in Fukushima Prefecture seems a bit odd, to say the least.

While radiation levels may have declined since 2011, there are still hot spots in the prefecture, including near the sports complex where the torch relay will begin and along the relay route. The persistence of this contamination, and the economic fallout of the reactor accidents, should remind us of the hazardous nature of nuclear power.

Simultaneously, changes in the economics of alternative sources of energy in the last decade invite us to reconsider how countries, including Japan, should generate electricity in the future.

Japan is not alone in having experienced severe nuclear accidents. The 1986 Chernobyl accident also contaminated very large areas in Ukraine and Belarus. As in Japan, many people had to be evacuated; about 116,000, according to the 2000 report of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. Many of them never did return; 34 years after the accident, thousands of square kilometers remain closed off to human inhabitation.

Events such as these are, naturally, traumatic and result in people viewing nuclear power as a risky technology. In turn, that view has led to persistent and widespread public opposition around the world.

This is evident in Japan too, where opinion polls show overwhelming opposition to the government’s plans to restart nuclear plants that have been shut down. One poll from February 2019 found 56 percent of respondents were opposed to, with only 32 percent in favor of, resuming nuclear operations. Other polls show significant local opposition, one example coming out of Miyagi Prefecture. Even the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization, which aims to promote nuclear power, finds that only 17.3 percent prefer nuclear energy, with much larger majorities preferring solar, wind and hydro power.

There is also the immense cost of cleaning up after such accidents. Estimates for the Fukushima disaster range from nearly $200 billion to over $600 billion. In 2013, France’s nuclear safety institute estimated that a similar accident in France could end up costing $580 billion. In Japan, just the cost of bringing old nuclear power plants into compliance with post-Fukushima safety regulations has been estimated at $44.2 billion.

Even in the absence of accidents and additional safety features, nuclear power is already very expensive. For the United States, the Wall Street firm Lazard estimates an average cost of $155 per megawatt-hour of nuclear electricity, more than three times the corresponding estimates of around $40 per MWh each for wind and solar energy. The latter costs have declined by around 70 to 90 percent in the last 10 years. In the face of the high costs of nuclear power — economic, environmental and public health — and overwhelming public opposition, it is puzzling that the government would persist in trying to restart nuclear power plants.

To explain his support for the technology, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claims that the country cannot do without nuclear power, especially in view of climate change concerns. The claim about the necessity of nuclear power makes little sense. Since 2011, the country has been generating only a fraction of the nuclear electricity it used to generate, and yet the lights have not gone off. Further, starting in 2015, Japan’s total greenhouse gas emissions have fallen below the levels in 2011, because of “reduced energy consumption” and the increase in “low-carbon electricity.” The latter, in turn, is because of an increasing fraction of renewable energy in electricity generation, a factor that could play an important role in the future.

Some, including the Global Energy Network Institute and a group of analysts led by Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson, argue that Japan could be 100 percent powered by renewable energy. Regardless of whether Japan reaches that goal, there is little doubt that Japan could be expanding renewable energy, and that increased reliance on renewables makes economic and environmental sense.

Instead, the Abe government seems to be involved in lowering incentives for the development of solar energy, and promoting nuclear power. Efforts by Abe to support the failing and flailing nuclear sector in Japan are indicative of the significant political power wielded by the “nuclear village,” the network of power companies, regulators, bureaucrats and researchers that controls nuclear and energy policy.

Moreover, Abenomics involves exports of nuclear components and technology, as well as conventional arms, as an important component. So far, despite many trips by Abe to various countries, Japan has yet to export any reactors in the last decade; a project with the most likely client, Turkey, collapsed because of high costs.

This suggests one possible explanation: Perhaps Abe realizes that before exporting nuclear reactors, he first has to shore up the domestic nuclear industry and prove that Japan has fully recovered from the 2011 nuclear disaster. But is that worth the risk?

Restarting nuclear reactors or constructing new ones, should that ever happen, only increases the likelihood of more nuclear accidents in the future and raises the costs of electricity. Regardless of who we cheer for at the Olympic Games, nuclear power does not deserve our applause.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/03/13/commentary/japan-commentary/starting-olympic-torch-relay-fukushima-remind-us-dangers-nuclear-power/?fbclid=IwAR3x4IaqlQwkdqMwg816C3CaL95O40DpbRcG6UTRbDRDm3qc63R0HvH5Cq0#.Xmx7IXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

After ‘miracle recovery’, Fukushima brewers look to the Games to push sake globally

Greedy bloody criminals, having no conscience to poison all the people with their radiation contaminated sake!!!

hhjkmmAn employee of Miyaizumi Meijo Brewery picks up a sharaku sake prepared to be packed in crates during a new sake-brewing process in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima prefecture.

AIZU WAKAMATSU, Fukushima: The earth in Fukushima still trembled when Yoshihiro Miyamori drove in the dark towards his sake brewery. When he got back after midnight, he found smashed sake bottles and a crack in the wall of the building. It was Mar 11, 2011.

Miyamori was on his way to visit other sake-makers along Japan’s northeastern coast that day, and barely escaped the tsunami unleashed by a massive earthquake that razed towns and killed thousands, setting off nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima power plant nearby.

“I needed some time to think about how I could recover from this,” Miyamori, 43, told Reuters on a recent tour of his “sakagura,” or sake brewery, Miyaizumi Meijo, in Fukushima’s city of Aizu Wakamatsu.

The breweries’ sales tanked by 66 per cent that month.

 

fggjhjkjlkkAn employee of Miyaizumi Meijo Brewery works on rice soaking during a new sake-brewing process in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima prefecture.

“I know people outside Fukushima were concerned about safety of rice and water,” said Miyamori.

With the Tokyo Olympics less than five months away, many spectators, and even some Olympic committees, have expressed concerns about the food from Fukushima.

But nine years after the nuclear meltdowns, Fukushima sake has made a remarkable recovery, winning the most trophies at one of Japan’s most important sake competitions seven years in a row. And Miyaizumi Meijo’s flagship brand Sharaku has become one of Japan’s most famous.

“We just kept doing what we know best – making quality sake,” he said.

But Miyamori’s understated comments hide a sake obsessive who abandoned a safe job in Tokyo to take over his father’s struggling business at 26. He revolutionised the production, renovated the brewery and paid off nearly US$3 million in debt.

After taking over in 2003, Miyamori pushed to directly oversee the sake-making – an anomaly in a business where normally the production is outsourced to brewing teams led by the “toji”, or chief brewer.

 

hgjhkjllmEmployees of Miyaizumi Meijo Brewery work on rice steaming during a new sake-brewing process in Aizu-Wakamatsu.

He sparked a backlash from the staff after moving to use specially filtered water to wash rice for each bottle, leading to an eventual departure of the toji and most of the brewing staff.

“I wanted to be particular about every single small detail of making sake,” said Miyamori.

He opened up the previously secret production data to staff. Whiteboards covered with numbers and diagrams on temperature, rice condition and alcohol content are scattered throughout the premises to ensure workers know what goes inside each bottle.

Miyamori launched Sharaku, known for its crispness, well-balanced acidity and sweetness, in 2008. The brand started ranking high in the Sendai Sake Summit, a nation-wide competition, before the 2011 earthquake. It became No. 1 in the year of the disaster, greatly aiding the recovery.

 

gjkjlmmSharaku sake of Miyaizumi Meijo Brewery pass through a filled bottle inspector during a new sake-brewing process in Aizu-Wakamatsu, Fukushima prefecture, Japan.

But Miyamori says he could not lead the rebound of the region’s sake on his own. He was first inspired to take over his father’s brewery after coming across Hiroki, a rival sake from the region, also led by a next-generation owner Kenji Hiroki, 53.

Now that his Sharaku has matched Hiroki in popularity, the two brewers drink together and tease each other about reviews of their alcohol.

Miyamori’s next rival is wine, he says, adding that he wants to use the Olympics to popularize sake globally.

Kenji Hiroki says of Miyamori, “you can brew better sake if you have a rival you can respect. Without Sharaku, Hiroki would not be as good as it is.”

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/japan-olympics-fukushima-earthquake-food-safety-sake-12535418

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment