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Church Rock Uranium Tailings Pond Breach Disaster in Navajo Nation – 40th Year


by | Jul 14, 2020

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Church Rock 40th anniversary commemoration, July 16, 2019 –
former Uranium Miner Larry J. King (center) explains the site of the 1979 Church Rock uranium tailings pond breach.  This under-reported radioactive disaster dumped more than 94 million gallons of uranium-contaminated waste water into the adjacent Puerco River.  Now 41 years later, it has yet to be cleaned up

Church Rock Uranium Tailings Pond Spill Commemoration, July 16, 2019:  Uranium mining marks the start of the nuclear fuel chain, the deadly journey uranium takes to become atomic weapons, nuclear reactors, and tons of highly radioactive waste.  NOTE: This is a special ENCORE PRESENTATION of the 2019 40th anniversary of the disaster.

On July 13 and 14, 2019, Nuclear Hotseat’s Libbe HaLevy attended commemorative events for the 1979 Church Rock uranium tailings pond breach and spill.  This under-reported nuclear disaster dumped more than 94 million gallons of highly acidic radioactive water into the adjacent Puerco River. The contamination reached Sanders, Arizona, more than 80 miles away. The spill has never been cleaned up.  Even after being declared a Superfund site, it needs at least two years before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission finishes its review of the EPA’s clean-up plan.  Clean-up can’t even begin until and unless the plan is approved.  And even that plan has come in for criticism by activists and community members.

Church Rock – This Week’s SPECIAL Featured Interviews:

This very SPECIAL Nuclear Hotseat from July 2019, presents an audio montage of interviews with community leaders from Navajo Nation.  They include: residents of the Red Water Pond Road Community, located adjacent to the spill site; commemoration event attendees; government officials; and activists from as far away as Japan. We spoke with:

  • Former uranium miner Larry J. King, who worked on-site at the United Nuclear Corporation mine the day of the tailings pond spill

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Thanks to Botswana, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has now reached 40 states ratifying it

Thanks to Botswana, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has now reached 40 states parties. After just 10 more ratifications, it will enter into force. Botswana deposited its instrument of ratification with the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, on 15 July, the anniversary of the entry into force of the Treaty of Pelindaba, which established the whole of Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone.

In case you missed it,  Fiji also ratified the ban treaty last week. You can read about the significance of this step and Fiji’s long history of activism against the bomb in the Guardian, thanks to Dr Vanessa Griffen and Talei Luscia Mangioni.

The 40th ratification is a significant milestone, dispelling any doubts over the treaty’s inevitable entry-into-force. The Australian Government simply cannot ignore the ban forever.

In more good news, on Tuesday night the City of Port Adelaide Enfield became the first South Australian council to endorse the ICAN Cities Appeal. There are now 28 Australian councils that call for the federal government to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Today is the 75th anniversary of the first nuclear explosion, code-named “Trinity”. This event has significance for all people impacted by nuclear weaponry worldwide, including in Australia. Nuclear explosions don’t stay in the past, the effects of radiation continue through the decades and generations. In just a couple of hours we’ll begin our special Trinity video panel with three incredible women who are fighting against the bomb. Check the details and get the Zoom link here, or watch it later from the ICAN Australia Facebook page.

July 16, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The nuclear test health toll – cancer and birth deformities in Kazakhstan

This Is What Nuclear Weapons Leave in Their Wake  
A remote area of Kazakhstan was once home to nearly a quarter of the world’s nuclear testing. The impact on its inhabitants has been devastating.

Decay and desolation scar the landscape of a remote corner of the Kazakh Steppe. Unnatural lakes formed by nuclear bomb explosions pockmark the once flat terrain, broken up only by empty shells of buildings. It appears uninhabitable. And yet, ghosts – living and dead – haunt the land, still burdened by the effects a nuclear testing program that stopped nearly 30 years ago.

The site, known as the Polygon, was home to nearly a quarter of the world’s nuclear tests during the Cold War. The zone was chosen for being unoccupied, but several small agricultural villages dot its perimeter. Though some residents were bussed out during the test period, most remained. The damage that continues today is visceral.

Photographer Phil Hatcher-Moore spent two months documenting the region, and was struck by the “wanton waste of man’s folly.”

His project ‘Nuclear Ghosts’ marries the wasted landscape and intimate portraits of villagers still suffering the consequences.

The figures are astonishing – some 100,000 people in the area are still affected by radiation, which can be transmitted down through five generations. But with his intimately harrowing pictures, Moore sought to make the abstract numbers tangible.

“Nuclear contamination is not something we can necessarily see,” he says. “And we can talk about the numbers, but I find it more interesting to focus on individuals who encapsulate the story.”

Moore interviewed all his subjects before picking up his camera and learned that secrecy and misinformation plagued much of their experience.

“[During the 50s] one guy was packed up with his tent and told to live out in the hills for five days with his flock. He was effectively used as a test subject to see what happened,” says Moore. “They were never told what was going on, certainly not the dangers that they may be in.”

Though human stories were central, Moore also documented the scientific test labs that are still uncovering the damage. The juxtaposition of these labs alongside portraits of people disfigured by radiation makes for uncomfortable viewing. But this proximity is deliberate.

“There was a history of humans being used as live subjects,” says Moore. “I wanted to marry these ideas together; the way people were used by researchers at the time and how that trickles down into every day life – what that looks like, what that means.”

While some of Moore’s subjects are severely deformed, many suffer from less visible health issues like cancer, blood diseases or PTSD. And the hidden, insidious nature of the thing is what is perhaps most troubling. “For a long time there hadn’t been much nuclear development but it is a very real issue right now,” says Moore. “But we don’t talk about what it takes to renew these weapons. These people are legacy and testament to what was done to meet those ends.”

See more of Phil Hatcher-Moore’s work on his website and follow him on Instagram.

July 16, 2020 Posted by | health, Kazakhstan | Leave a comment

The effects of radiation on the “downwinders” – guinea pigs for nuclear bomb research

Now I Am Become Death’: The Legacy of the First Nuclear Bomb Test, NYT,  By Maria Cramer July 15, 2020 

“………The effects of radiation were not well understood by most scientists on the project at the time, according to historians, and the preparations that were made to keep civilians safe reflected that ignorance.

They placed crude monitors around the small towns within 40 miles of the testing site. A scientist who was seven months pregnant and her husband, who was also a scientist, were sent to a motel in one of the towns with a Geiger counter, a device used to detect radioactive emissions, to measure the radiation.  If the needle hit a certain mark, she was instructed to alert officials so that they could evacuate the town, Professor Wellerstein said.

Officials did not warn any of the residents — many of them ranchers, Navajos, Mexican settlers and their descendants who raised cattle and drank water from cisterns — about the test. Should anyone ask about the blast, officials had proposed several cover stories, including telling the public that a remote ammunitions depot had exploded, Professor Wellerstein said.

Officials did not warn any of the residents — many of them ranchers, Navajos, Mexican settlers and their descendants who raised cattle and drank water from cisterns — about the test. Should anyone ask about the blast, officials had proposed several cover stories, including telling the public that a remote ammunitions depot had exploded, Professor Wellerstein said.

“It produced more light and heat than the sun,” said Tina Cordova, a founder of the Tularosa Basin Downwinders Consortium, which has urged the government to conduct more research about the aftermath of the blast and to compensate the affected communities.

Based on census data at the time, the consortium estimates there were tens of thousands of people living within a 50-mile radius of the blast, Ms. Cordova said.

Ash fell for days afterward in the landscape and in every direction and in amazing quantities,” she said.

The day after the blast, Leo Szilard, a Hungarian physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, sent a petition signed by 70 scientists to President Harry S. Truman, urging him to give Japan a chance to surrender before dropping the bombs.

“Thus a nation which sets the precedent of using these newly liberated forces of nature for purposes of destruction may have to bear the responsibility of opening the door to an era of devastation on an unimaginable scale,” the petition cautioned.

It was not the first plea to reconsider using a nuclear bomb to end the war.
A month before the test, a committee, which included Dr. Szilard and was headed by the German scientist James Franck, issued the Franck Report, urging the United States to first demonstrate the power of the weapons to members of the United Nations……….

The bombs in Nagasaki and Hiroshima are believed to have killed up to about 200,000 people, with many of those victims succumbing to radiation poisoning in the weeks that followed.

Scientists “were totally shocked when the Japanese reported radiation sickness at Nagasaki,” said Professor Wellerstein, who has written about what the United States knew about the long-term consequences of using the weapons……..
The true effects of the test on the people who lived near the test site remain unclear.

The government never conducted a full investigation into the effects of the radiation, even after the communities downwind of the blast saw an unusual spike in infant deaths in the months after the explosion, said Joseph J. Shonka, a scientist and one of the authors of a 2010 study about the effects of nuclear testing for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The Trinity downwinders have not been treated in either a fair or a just manner,” he said.

Ms. Cordova, who grew up in Tularosa, N.M., said cancer had been pervasive in the towns near the Trinity test site, where everyone can name someone who died of the disease.

“We know that the government basically walked away and has taken no responsibility for the suffering and the dying,” said Ms. Cordova, who has survived thyroid cancer and has several relatives who died of various forms of cancer.

Members of Congress from New Mexico have introduced legislation that would expand the Radiation Exposure Compensation Actwhich compensates uranium miners and people who lived downwind from nuclear testing sites, to include the residents who lived around Trinity.

In 2014, the National Cancer Institute began interviewing people who lived in the towns near the testing site to try and document the effects of the blast. The institute said it anticipated publishing the results “within the next few months.”

July 16, 2020 Posted by | health, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A USA resumption of nuclear testing ? -a green light for all other nations to start their own testing

if the U.S. were to resume nuclear testing, it would be a green light for all other nations to start their own testing.

A restart of nuclear testing offers little scientific value to the US and would benefit other countries    The Conversation, Ferenc Dalnoki-Veress, Scientist-in-Residence and Adjunct Professor, Middlebury, Miles A. Pomper, Senior Fellow, James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Middlebury 14 July 20, 

“…….The U.S. tested nuclear bombs for decades. But at the end of the Cold War in 1992, the U.S. government imposed a moratorium on U.S. testing. This was strengthened by the Clinton administration’s decision to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Although the Senate never ratified the treaty and it never entered into force, all 184 countries that signed the test ban, including the U.S., have followed its rules.

But in recent weeks, the Trump administration and Congress have begun debating whether to restart active testing of nuclear weapons on U.S. soil…….

We are two nuclear weapons researchers – a physicist and an arms control expert – and we believe that there is no value, from either the scientific nor diplomatic perspective, to be gained from resuming testing. In fact, all the evidence suggests that such a move would threaten U.S. national security. Continue reading

July 16, 2020 Posted by | politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Electricite de France (EDF) ‘s new nuclear reactors not financially viable

French auditor calls for financing guarantee for future EPR projects, WNN, 15 July 2020, EDF must ensure the financing and profitability of its proposed EPR2 reactor before starting construction of any plants based on the design in France, the country’s state audit office has said. The EPR2 is a simplified version of the EPR design, construction of which has been hit by delays and cost increases in France and Finland……..

Construction of the Olkiluoto 3 EPR began in 2005, with completion of the reactor originally scheduled for 2009. However, with various delays and setbacks, fuel loading is now planned for later this year. The loading of fuel into the Flamanville EPR in France, construction of which began in December 2007, is now scheduled for the end of 2022. Two EPR units are also under construction at the Hinkley Point C project in Somerset, UK.
In a report published 9 July, the Cour des Comptes says the rivalries between Areva and EDF “resulted in the hasty launch of the construction sites of the first two EPRs, in Finland and in Flamanville. This insufficient preparation led to underestimating the difficulties and the construction costs, and to overestimating the capacity of the French nuclear sector to face it, at the cost of financial risks for the companies of the sector.”
The report says the 3.3 times increase in the construction cost, estimated by EDF at EUR12.4 billion (2015 value), and by at least 3.5 times the commissioning time for the Flamanville EPR compared to initial forecasts, “constitutes a considerable drift”. It says this is the result of “unrealistic initial estimates, poor organisation of the project by EDF, a lack of vigilance on the part of the supervisory authorities and a lack of awareness of the loss of technical competence of industrialists in the sector”.

The audit office added, “The construction of new EPRs in France cannot in any event be envisaged without clear prior answers on the methods of financing and the role of nuclear power production in the electricity mix of tomorrow.”

The report says EDF is no longer in a position to finance the construction of new reactors on its own. The utility, it says, is studying means of financing that either makes the consumer – as in the case of the UK’s contract-for-difference for construction of Hinkley Point C – or the taxpayer bear the costs of construction.  

“The financial challenges are major, with the cost of construction of three pairs of EPR2 reactors being estimated at EUR46 billion (2018 value),” the Cour des Comptes notes. “Taking into account their duration of construction, production and dismantling, the decision to build or not to build future EPRs will have consequences until the 22nd Century. ….

July 16, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear bomb testing – a form of racism and colonialism

Danielle Endres: Nuclear testing as a form of colonization,   By Danielle Endres ·16 July 20
At 5:29 a.m. on July 16, 1945, scientists in the Manhattan Project detonated the world’s first nuclear weapon in the desert homelands of the Mescalero Apache, a place now known as Alamogordo, New Mexico. As the detonation cloud mushroomed into the sky, the Trinity test ushered in a new era, the atomic age.

Some researchers argue that the atomic age is the beginning of Anthropocene — the planetary era defined by the impact of humans on global ecological systems — because of the release of radiation into our ecosystem from nuclear weapons production and testing. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control notes “All people who were born since 1951 have received some exposure to radiation from weapons testing-related fallout.”
With this opening of the nuclear Pandora’s box, nuclear weapons remain a ubiquitous though often unseen feature of geopolitics, modern warfare, culture and society. While there are many arguments to be made about the social and environmental legacies of nuclear weapons, I focus on how the nuclear weapons production process is linked with structures of racism and colonialism.
Trinity downwinders have tracked cancers, other illnesses and deaths linked to radiation exposure in communities near the Trinity site in their call for compensation trough RECA. The Mescalero Apache Reservation is a Trinity downwinder community. The impacts on Mescalero Apache nation from the Trinity test are just one example of a larger pattern in which Black, Indigenous, people of color and poor rural communities disproportionately experience adverse consequences from nuclear weapons production and testing.
After the Trinity test, and the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki that it enabled, the world entered a nuclear era with a massive proliferation of nuclear weapons. There are many scholarly resources from which learn more about how the cradle to grave cycle of nuclear weapons production relates to racism and colonialism.
Historian Gabrielle Hecht’s “Being Nuclear” shows how uranium mining in African countries is linked with race and colonialism. In “The Nuclear Borderlands,” anthropologist Joseph Masco recounts the impacts of nuclear weapons production on Indigenous and Nuevomexicano communities in New Mexico. And Traci Voyles tells of devastating effects of uranium mining on the Navajo nation in “Wastelanding.”
My research focuses on nuclear colonization, a phenomenon in which the nuclear production process disproportionately damages Indigenous peoples’ land, health and sovereignty due to the disparate location of nuclear production and testing sites on or near Indigenous reservations and homelands.
Spiritual leader and anti-nuclear advocate Corbin Harney called the Western Shoshone Nation the most nuclear bombed nation in the world because of the more than 1,000 nuclear tests that happened on Western Shoshone treaty-protected homelands, a.k.a. Nevada Test Site. For more than 30 years, the federal government then seriously considered storing the nation’s high-level nuclear waste from nuclear power inside Yucca Mountain, a spiritual place in Western Shoshone homelands.
Nuclear colonialism is yet another example of environmental injustice. Marginalized people are disproportionately harmed in the production of nuclear technologies just as they are disproportionately damaged by climate change, air pollution, and toxicity.
We must fight to end our reliance on nuclear weapons, not just to protect future generations from accidental or intentional use, but also to work toward a more just and equitable world in which everyone can breathe clean air, have access to a clean water, live in a healthy environment, participate in decisions about their land and communities, and not be asked to sacrifice in the name of a “national interest” that rarely works in support of Black, Indigenous and people of color.
On this 75th anniversary of the Trinity test, let us commit to nuclear abolition from the standpoint of environmental justice and decolonization.
Danielle EndresSalt Lake City, is a member of Utah Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons and a professor of rhetoric and communication at the University of Utah whose research focuses on the sociopolitical implications of nuclear technologies. Views in this article are her own and do not represent the University of Utah.

July 16, 2020 Posted by | indigenous issues, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Siberia’s heat-wave – global heating is what made this possible

Siberia heatwave was ‘almost impossible’ without climate change, scientists say, SBS News 16 Jul 20, An extreme heatwave in the Arctic is a problem for the entire planet, say scientists, because the region regulates weather around the globe and contains much of the world’s carbon-rich permafrost.A recent heatwave in Siberia that saw temperature records tumble as the region sweltered in 38-Celsius highs was “almost impossible” without the influence of man-made climate change, leading climate scientists say.

An international team of researchers found that the record-breaking warm period was more than 2 degrees hotter than it would have been if humans had not warmed the planet through decades of greenhouse gas emissions.

The five hottest years in history have occurred in the last five years and there’s a better-than-even chance that 2020 will be the hottest ever recorded.

Earth’s poles are warming faster than the rest of the planet, and temperatures in Siberia – home to much of the world’s carbon-rich permafrost – were more than 5 degrees hotter than average between January and June. ………

‘Important for everyone’

The team behind the calculations stressed that the Siberian heatwave was a problem for the entire globe. Some 1.15 million hectares of forest going up in flames released millions of tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere.

At the same time, the wildfires and sustained heatwaves accelerated the region’s permafrost melt. This caused an oil tank built on frozen soil to collapse in May, leading to one of the region’s worst-ever oil spills…….

The 2015 Paris climate deal commits nations to capping temperature rises to “well-below” 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to strive for a 1.5 degrees limit if at all possible. With just 1 degree of warming so far, Earth is already buffeted by record-breaking droughts, wild fires and super storms made more potent by rising sea levels.

To keep in line with the 1.5-degree target, the United Nations says global emissions must fall by 7.6 per cent every year this decade.

Sonia Seneviratne, from ETH Zurich’s Department of Environmental Systems Science, said the research showed the heatwave was an example of “extreme events which would have almost no chance of happening” without man-made emissions.

July 16, 2020 Posted by | climate change, Russia | Leave a comment

July 16 1945 – the first nuclear bomb test – the start of many more

Now I Am Become Death’: The Legacy of the First Nuclear Bomb Test

The 75th anniversary of what’s known as the Trinity explosion, the world’s first nuclear weapon test, comes as tensions over nuclear devices intensify.  NYT,  By Maria Cramer July 15, 2020   It was 1 a.m. on July 16, 1945, when J. Robert Oppenheimer met with an Army lieutenant general, Leslie Groves, in the parched landscape of Jornada del Muerto — Dead Man’s Journey — a remote desert in New Mexico.

A group of engineers and physicists was about to detonate an atomic device packed with 13 pounds of plutonium, a nuclear weapon that the government hoped would bring an end to World War II……..At 5:29 a.m. local time, the device exploded with a power equivalent to 21,000 tons of TNT and set off a flash of light that would have been visible from Mars, researchers said.

It was the first nuclear test in history.

Less than a month later, the United States would drop a nearly identical weapon on the city of Nagasaki in Japan.    The bomb, named Fat Man, fell three days after Americans dropped a uranium bomb, called Little Boy, on Hiroshima. Both weapons immediately killed tens of thousands of Japanese people and forced Japan’s surrender on Aug. 14, bringing an abrupt end to the war.

Since the Trinity test 75 years ago, at least eight countries have conducted more than 2,000 nuclear bomb tests, said Jenifer Mackby, a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. More than half of those tests have been conducted by the United States, a legacy of the Trinity explosion, as the United States and several other countries have continued to refuse to ratify the treaty prohibiting nuclear weapon test explosions.
Many of the scientists who witnessed the blast quickly  realized the “foul and awesome” power they had set free, according to historians.

Mr. Oppenheimer said a Hindu scripture ran through his mind at the sight of the explosion: “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

The goal of the test was to see if the military could harness plutonium into a weapon that would destroy whole cities, said Alex Wellerstein, a science historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, N.J., who studies the history of nuclear weapons……

July 16, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

8 cases of inappropriately stored nuclear waste found at northern Japan reprocessing plant

kjlklmlmThe Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in the village of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, is seen in this May 14, 2020 file photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun aircraft


July 15, 2020

TOKYO — Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL) had been inappropriately storing nuclear waste at a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, in northern Japan, including keeping waste in undesignated areas, the country’s nuclear regulatory body has revealed.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) had instructed JNFL to make improvements in its practices in 2017, but the company had left some of its nuclear waste in places where they were not supposed to be. There has been no confirmation that any of the radioactive substances leaked. There have been a series of shoddy practices uncovered at JNFL, which is likely to call into question the company’s attitude.

At the fuel reprocessing plant, uranium and plutonium are extracted from spent nuclear fuel for reuse in nuclear reactors. Highly radioactive waste liquid that is generated in the process becomes nuclear waste when it is solidified in glass. According to the NRA and others, JNFL had been keeping nuclear waste in a building different from the one the waste is meant to be stored in. As for the approximately 160 kilograms of shards of radioactive waste liquid solidified in glass, an appropriate storage method had not been stipulated. There were eight cases of inappropriate storage, some of them spanning the past 19 years.

Inspectors from the NRA Secretariat confirmed inappropriate storage of nuclear waste in August 2017. The regulatory body asked that JNFL correct its practices by August 2019, but only two of the eight cases had been remedied by the end of June 2020.

At a meeting concerning the safety inspection of the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant this past May, the NRA had determined that the plant had effectively met the government’s new criteria. JNFL explained that it had intended to consult with the NRA Secretariat once the inspections had taken place. The NRA, meanwhile, says that the situation is exempt from safety inspections under the government’s new criteria.



July 16, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

J-pop group TOKIO to promote Fukushima goods in new TV commercials

They pretend that there is no radioactive contamination in Fukushima produce, they say  it is only “harmful rumors”… Would you buy this B.S. ?


klkmùThe image shows a poster featuring pop group TOKIO and regional goods of Fukushima Prefecture.


July 14, 202

FUKUSHIMA — A set of new TV commercials in which members of the pop group TOKIO promote regional goods from this northeastern Japan prefecture, with the aim to dispel harmful rumors that spread after the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, are set to go on air, according to a July 13 announcement.

Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori is optimistic about the ads, saying, “Through these wonderful commercials, we would like to share with everyone in Japan the great qualities of the prefecture’s agricultural, forest and fishery products, as well as the pride of the producers here.”

Since 2012, a year after the accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s nuclear power plant, TOKIO has been promoting regional goods from Fukushima Prefecture through commercials and posters.

There are three types of commercials: one featuring group leader Shigeru Joshima with peaches, another showing Masahiro Matsuoka with tuna and one starring Taichi Kokubun with summer vegetables. Producers and children from Fukushima Prefecture appear in all three types of ads, and they present the region’s goods with comical movements and a bright smile.

The commercials will be broadcasted from July 15, not only in the prefecture but also in the Kanto region in eastern Japan and the Kansai region in western Japan.

Every summer, Gov. Uchibori travels to metropolitan areas such as Tokyo and Osaka to promote the trade of regional goods, but he has decided to suspend this year’s visits due to the effects of the novel coronavirus. Uchibori said, “Even with the restrictions, we would like to promote our agricultural products by broadcasting commercials and by other means.”

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Particulate plutonium released from the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns

 New research strongly suggests that the nano-scale heterogeneity that is common in normal nuclear fuels is still present in the fuel debris that remains inside the Fukushima’s damaged reactors.
(a)Electron imaging of a CsMP with elemental maps. (b) Synchrotron micro-focus X-ray fluorescence (μXRF) elemental maps. (c) Image of uranium dioxide inclusion in the CsMP. (d) Uranium L3-edge X-ray absorption near-edge structure (XANES) of a discrete point, indicated by the red arrow in (b). The spectrum is plotted alongside U(IV) and U(VI) oxide standards. (e) Discrete-area Pu L3-edge XANES collected from the point indicated by the red arrow.
July 14, 2020 University of Helsinki
Small amounts of plutonium (Pu) were released from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (FDNPP) reactors into the environment during the site’s 2011 nuclear disaster. However, the physical, chemical, and isotopic form of the released Pu has remained unknown. Now, recent work has shown that Pu was included inside cesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs) that were emitted from the site.
Now, recent work published in the journal Science of the Total Environment has shown that Pu was included inside cesium-rich microparticles (CsMPs) that were emitted from the site. CsMPs are microscopic radioactive particles that formed inside the Fukushima reactors when the melting nuclear fuel interacted with the reactor’s structural concrete. Due to loss of containment in the reactors, the particles were released into the atmosphere; many were then deposited across Japan.
Studies have shown that the CsMPs are incredibly radioactive and that they are primarily composed of glass (with silica from the concrete) and radio-cesium (a volatile fission product formed in the reactors). Whilst the environmental impact and distribution of the CsMPs is still an active subject of debate, learning about the chemical composition of the CsMPs has been shown to offer a much-needed insight into the nature and extent of the FDNPP meltdowns.
The study published in Science of the Total Environment, involving scientists from Japan, Finland, France, Switzerland, the UK, and USA, was led by Dr. Satoshi Utsunomiya and graduate student Eitaro Kurihara (Department of Chemistry, Kyushu University). The team used a combination of advanced analytical techniques (synchrotron-based micro-X-ray analysis, secondary ion mass spectrometry, and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy) to find and characterize the Pu that was present in the CsMP samples.
The researchers initially discovered incredibly small uranium-dioxide inclusions, of less than 10 nanometers in diameter, inside the CsMPs; this indicated possible inclusion of nuclear fuel inside the particles. Detailed analysis then revealed, for the first-time, that Pu-oxide concentrates were associated with the uranium, and that the isotopic composition of the U and Pu matched that calculated for the FDNPP irradiated fuel inventory.
Dr Utsunomiya stated “these results strongly suggest that the nano-scale heterogeneity that is common in normal nuclear fuels is still present in the fuel debris that remains inside the site’s damaged reactors. This is important information as it tells us about the extent / severity of the melt-down. Further, this is important information for the eventual decommissioning of the damaged reactors and the long-term management of their wastes.”
With regards environmental impact, Dr Utsunomiya states “that as we already know that the CsMPs were distributed over a wide region in Japan (up to 230 km from the FDNPP), small amounts of Pu were likely dispersed in the same way.”
Professor Gareth Law, a co-author on the paper from the University of Helsinki, indicated that the team “will continue to characterize and experiment with the CsMPs, in an effort to better understand their long-term behavior and environmental impact. It is clear that CsMPs are an important vector of radioactive contamination from nuclear accidents.”
Professor Bernd Grambow, a co-author from Nantes/France, states that “while the Pu released from the damaged reactors is low compared to that of Cs; the investigation provides crucial information for studying the associated health impact.”
Professor Rod Ewing at Stanford University emphasized that “the study used an extraordinary array of analytical techniques in order to complete the description of the particles at the atomic-scale. This is the type of information required to describe the mobility of plutonium in the environment.”
Utsunomiya concluded “It took a long time to publish results on particulate Pu from Fukushima. I would like to emphasize that this is a great achievement of international collaboration. It’s been almost ten years since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima,” he continued “but research on Fukushima’s environmental impact and its decommissioning are a long way from being over.”

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

New hotel boom in Fukushima capitalizing on reconstruction



July 13, 2020

Areas close to the site of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster might seem like the least likely prospect for a hotel construction boom, but as the region slowly begins to recover, demand for places to stay is at a premium.

Hotel operators are not expecting to cater to people with a morbid fascination for the facility that went into a triple meltdown following the magnitude-9.0 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, but to accommodate those involved in reconstruction projects, and later, business travelers and other visitors.

Coastal areas of Fukushima Prefecture were the first to experience a rush in new hotel construction, mainly facilities offering 100 or so rooms.

This fall, the wave of hotel openings will even extend to Futaba, a town that hosts the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Over the past nine years since the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, hotels have mostly been occupied by construction workers.

However, hotel operators are expecting a more diverse clientele to develop in the future.

Hotel Futabanomori, located in the town of Namie about nine kilometers north of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, is expected to open on July 15.

The hotel has 95 rooms, most of them singles that cost 6,500 yen ($ 61) a night, including taxes, or 9,000 yen with breakfast and supper thrown in.

It is situated not far from the No. 6 national road that rumbles for much of the day with heavy trucks going to and from construction sites.

An evacuation order was lifted in the central part of the town in March 2017. Currently about 1,400 people live there, which accounts for less than 10 percent of the pre-disaster population.

But new businesses are moving into the town. In March, top-level facilities for research and development of robots and hydrogen production were established in Namie as a part of a national project.

Takashi Shiga, the 47-year-old president of Hotel Futabanomori, said he hopes his hotel will create an opportunity for residents to “get together with relatives and old classmates who left their hometown and moved far away back to return to Namie.”

He also said he wanted the hotel to provide workers involved in reconstruction projects “with a sense of comfort.”

Prior to the disaster, towns near the nuclear power plants used to be dotted with small inns and hotels catering to beachgoers, surfers and workers at nuclear and thermal power plants.

After the disaster, residents within a 20-km radius of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant were ordered to evacuate.

Hirono town, located about 20 km south of the facility, offered the main venue for places to stay for workers involved in cleanup, decontamination and reconstruction projects.

I received so many phone calls from workers desperately looking for a place to lie down and get some sleep,” said Minoru Yoshida, 64, who runs an inn called Iwasawaso in Hirono.

Yoshida evacuated to Tokyo temporarily immediately after the disaster. But within two months, he started taking in guests.

Parts of Iwasawaso were damaged by the earthquake, but Yoshida opened his own home, which was adjacent to the inn and emerged unscathed, to let guests stay.

He also turned a banquet room in the inn into a space for workers to spend the night.

In 2016, Yoshida built a business hotel with 102 rooms, Hotel Ocean Iwasawa, nearby.

Prior to the disaster, he managed two buildings with 83 rooms. Now, he manages four buildings with 211 rooms.

An average of 150 to 200 guests stay at his properties each day.

This is my hometown. That’s why I want it to be rebuilt,” Yoshida said. “I wanted to help these people who came here to work for the rebuilding by letting them stay.”

In Futaba town, where the No. 1 nuclear power plant is located, a new business hotel with 134 rooms, “ARM Futaba,” is slated to open this fall.

In March, an evacuation order was lifted for 4.7 percent of the town.

A new museum dedicated to explaining the damage from the March 2011 disaster and the lessons learned from it is also slated to open in the town this fall.

Expectations remain high that former residents will start returning two years from now to live in Futaba.

Arm System, a Hokkaido-based company that manages the new hotel, hopes that evacuees from the town will stay at the property during temporary homecoming visits.

Industrial complexes are also under construction in the area.

We expect strong demand from business travelers and museum visitors and foresee a sustainable business in the future,” a company representative said.

Tomioka town, about 10 km south of the nuclear power plant, along with surrounding areas, has witnessed a rise in new apartment buildings for single people and company dormitories since April 2017, when the evacuation order was lifted.

In October that year, Tomioka Hotel with 69 rooms was opened by eight residents who ran food and clothing stores in the town.

The hotel has maintained an average 70 percent occupancy rate since then. Most of the guests were engineers and businesspeople visiting the town for reconstruction projects from the Tokyo metropolitan area.

But Tsukasa Watanabe, the 61-year-old president of the hotel, admitted to “feeling nervous about the future,” citing the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic that caused visits by business travelers to dry up.

The hotel has relied on a central government subsidy that supports two-thirds of a hotel construction fee, and other initiatives.

But we can’t just continue to rely on such (support),” said Watanabe, who desperately feels the need to come up with a strategy to bolster his hotel’s competitiveness.

Kota Kawasaki, an associate professor of town planning at Fukushima University, noted that the trend of hotel occupancy by construction workers had reached its peak more or less.

“Competition among hotels will increase from now on,” he said. “Each hotel will have to devise more strategic management skills to stay in business.”

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Rally opposes proposal for Fukushima radioactive wastewater



July 12, 2020

Dozens of young people in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture have rallied against a government panel’s proposal on how to dispose of radioactive wastewater stored at the crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant.

About 50 people, including fisheries workers, marched through Koriyama City on Sunday.

The demonstration was organized by a group of Fukushima residents in their 20s and 30s, who said detrimental rumors about the prefecture may circulate if the wastewater is disposed of improperly.

Group representative Sato Taiga said a survey shows that most respondents do not know about the issue. He added that he hopes the group’s activities will raise awareness among people, including the younger generation.

Water used to cool molten nuclear fuel from the 2011 accident at the plant has most of the radioactive materials removed before being stored in tanks. But the treated water still contains tritium and some other radioactive substances.

The amount stored has reached some 1.2 million tons. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, expects to reach capacity around the summer of 2022.

In February, a government panel compiled a report that says a realistic solution is releasing the wastewater into the sea or air after diluting it in compliance with environmental and other standards.

The government is in the process of hearing opinions from local governments and relevant organizations before making its final decision on how to dispose of the treated water.

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Video Testimonies from Fukushima in 7 Languages: “We want to protect the ocean of Fukushima, for the future of the fishing industry”


July 11, 2020

Peace Boat has cooperated with the environmental NGO Friends of the Earth Japan (FoE Japan) to launch the next in their series of video testimonies of the current situation in Fukushima in various languages.

Nine years have passed since the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Disaster, and the damage continues to be incurred. Although this disaster is still ongoing, efforts are made to render this invisible. FoE Japan has conducted video interviews with evacuees, dairy farmers, fishermen and other community members in order to make the ongoing impacts more known as part of the “Fukushima Mieruka Project.”

The next multilingual installment in this series includes interviews with fishermen from Fukushima, who have been pushed back and forth by the policies of the Japanese Government and TEPCO, and who hold great concerns for their future. These are being released simultaneously in English, French, Spanish, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Korean and German, as well as Japanese.

The fishermen interviewed told us that they are still struggling to sell their fish due to the impacts of the nuclear accident. They are working to restore confidence step by step, by conducting efforts such as test operations and radiation monitoring themselves. However, the Japanese Government and TEPCO have launched a plan to discharge large amounts of radioactive contaminated materials generated at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, including tritium, into the ocean.
“From now, our worry is the problems for successors. If an unexpected fish is found in the future, the young generation will really suffer, those in the fishing industry. Really. It’s a life-or-death matter.”

Please listen to the voices of concern and anger of the Fukushima fishermen (12mins 31 sec).

Click on the name of each language to watch the clip on Youtube:

See here for a Q&A of more information on Japanese government plans to release contaminated water into the ocean here.

Sign the petition demanding that contaminated water being stored at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station NOT be discharged into the sea, and instead stored on land and solidified via here

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment