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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry Fukushima Chernobyl Mayak Three Mile Island Atomic Testing Radiation Isotope

The week in coronavirus, climate, and nuclear news

As the anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing approaches, there is Psychic numbing” about the world’s suicidal nuclear weapons race.

This week there’s a striking example of how interconnected everything is. It’s Florida.  Florida is struck with two, – possibly three – awful calamities threatening this state all at once. There is Hurricane Isaias,  threatening Florida with flooding and destruction, at the same time as the state is overwhelmed with a record toll of coronavirus illnesses and deaths.

Possibly in the path of the hurricane are FPL’s two nuclear reactors 1,600-MW Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station located two miles east of Homestead, Florida, and about 25 miles south of Miami. There’s also FPL’s FPL’s 1,880-MW St. Lucie Nuclear facility located further up the Florida coast on Hutchinson Island.  Their output could be cut, or in a worse scenario, radioactive pollution could result, in the case of flooding.

California also suffers from record coronavirus deaths. At the same time, California is afflicted with wildfires, again raising the possibility of radioactive pollution at The Santa Susana site – America’s Secret Chernobyl.

So here, in two USA States, we have the conjunction of global heating effects, with increased extreme weather events, with the global pandemic’s effects, and the third, –  very real radiation risks from the nuclear industry.

A bit of good newsRenewables output outpacing coal and nuclear in USA.

The WHO says coronavirus is a once-in-a century crisis that will impact lives for decadesNext type of coronavirus may be on its way.

International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement urges all nations to end the nuclear era. Never mind about Hiroshima – a nuclear arms race is on – in space!. BOOKS on The New Nuclear Threat. Hiroshima survivor,  Setsuko Thurlow, 88, continues her fight for a nuclear weapons-free world.  US-Russia launch talks in Vienna on nuclear arms control.

Global heating – “best case” scenario is a scary rise of two and a half degrees.  As sea levels rise globally, we need to start planning now.  Need for Prediction of Marine Heatwaves.

Environmental injustice is rampant around the world.

Julian Assange: Denied Lawyer Access and Failure of Transparency International –Assange appears in court, as lawyers warn case may be delayed by new US indictment.

JAPAN. Hiroshima court recognises Hiroshima “black rain” victims outside designated area as hibakusha after 75 years.  Local approval still needed, as Japan’s nuclear regulators OK fuel reprocessing plant, despite safety concerns.     Rokkasho plant should be shut down in energy policy shift.   Tohoku disaster funds spent for wining, dining company execs.  Experts propose two methods to scrap Daiichi plant.  Activist Professor Unveils English-language Video Warning of Tokyo Radiation Risk.

BANGLADESH.  Bangladesh flooding – a victim of global heating, though not a contributor to it

UK. UK is lobbying USA for a controversial new warhead for Trident missiles. Chinese minority owner of Hinkley nuclear project appoints CEO from China’s military area.  Does UK nuclear energy have any future? The industry has big doubts.

USA.

INDONESIAThorium nuclear plan with USA firm – a dubious deal for Indonesia.

MARSHALL ISLANDS.  U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard refutes the claim that Marshall Islands nuclear waste site is safe.  Marshall Islands leaders hope for better help over radioactively polluted weapons tests sites.

RUSSIA. For the nuclear industry, coronavirus is helpful, as nuclear wastes go quietly from Germany to Russia.  Gorbachev renews call to oppose nuclear weapons.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. United Arabs Emirate’s nuclear power station cut corners on safety.  United Arab Emirates new nuclear power   risks further destabilising the Gulf regionExperts wonder why Oil-rich UAE is opening the Arab world’s first nuclear power plant..

INDIA. India’s nuclear power industry – unsafe and shrouded in secrecy.

FRANCE.  French company EDF fined – it spread false information on cost of Hinkley nuclear power project.  Huge, costly, enormous effort, ITER nuclear fusion far from ready.

NORTH KOREA. Kim Jong Un says that North Korea’s nuclear weapons guarantee its freedom from attack, and war

IRAN.  Iran’s Khamenei refuses talks with U.S., says Trump wants them only for election propaganda.

CZECH REPUBLIC.  Czech Republic and CEZ sign nuclear power plant expansion agreement: require EU approval.

AUSTRALIA. Black lives DO matter, but not apparently, to ANSTO and Australia’s nuclear lobby. Nuclear waste dump site selection process has made the Barngarla people “aliens in their own country”.

 

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

“Psychic numbing” about the world’s suicidal nuclear weapons race

August 3, 2020 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Never mind about Hiroshima – a nuclear arms race is on – in space!

August 3, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK is lobbying USA for a controversial new warhead for Trident missiles

UK lobbies US to support controversial new nuclear warheads

Letter from defence secretary seen by Guardian draws Britain into debate pitting Trump administration against many Democrats,  Guardian,   Julian Borger in Washington, 2 Aug 20, 

The UK has been lobbying the US Congress in support of a controversial new warhead for Trident missiles, claiming it is critical for “the future of Nato as a nuclear alliance”.

A letter from Britain’s defence secretary, Ben Wallace, seen by the Guardian, urged Congress to support initial spending on the warhead, the W93.

The letter, sent in April but not previously reported, draws the UK into a US political debate, pitting the Trump administration against many Democrats and arms control groups over whether the the $14bn W93 programme is necessary. The US navy already has two warheads to choose from for its submarine-launched Trident missiles.

The close cooperation on the W93 casts further doubt on the genuine independence of the UK deterrent – parliament first heard about it when US officials accidentally disclosed Britain’s involvement in February – and the commitment of both countries to disarmament.

The UK is also supporting the administration’s efforts to speed up work on the warhead and its surprise $53m request for initial weapon design work in the 2021 budget, two years ahead of the previous schedule.

Sceptics believe the rush is intended to lock in funding before the election. A Biden administration would be likely to review or even cancel the W93 programme……..

The demand for funding for the W93 is particularly controversial in the US as the W76 and a higher-yield submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) warhead, the W88, have already been subject to multibillion-dollar upgrades.

“This is excess on top of excess,” Kingston Reif, director for disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, said. “We already have two SBLM warheads. The W76 just went through a major life extension programme and is slated to be good into the early 2040s, and the W88 is going through a major alteration.

“The US can continue to assist the UK’s arsenal without rushing the development of an unnecessary, at least $14bn new-design, third SLBM warhead,” Reif added.

The total cost of the US nuclear weapons modernisation programme is expected to be far in excess of $1tn.

The US and Russia, which is also upgrading its arsenal and developing new weapons, together account for more than 90% of all the nuclear warheads on the planet, and both countries are putting increasing emphasis on them in their rhetoric and defence postures.

Under Donald Trump, the US has now left three nuclear agreements and his administration is reluctant to extend the last major arms control deal with Russia, the 2010 New Start treaty, which is due to expire in February.

The bonfire of nuclear accords, combined with the huge amounts spent on weapons like the W93, are a threat to the 1968 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the fundamental bargain by which countries without nuclear arms pledged not to acquire them on condition the recognised nuclear powers (the US, UK, France, Russia and China) took steps to disarm, under article six of the treaty………

Alexandra Bell, a former state department official and now senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, said the US-UK special relationship had shown greater solidarity in promoting new weapons than in arms control. ……….    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/aug/01/uk-trident-missile-warhead-w93-us-lobbySun

August 3, 2020 Posted by | UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

World is in coronavirus for the long haul

The WHO says coronavirus is a once-in-a century crisis that will impact lives for decades,  SBS World News, 2 Aug 20, The World Health Organization committee “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic”.

The World Health Organization has warned the coronavirus pandemic is likely to be “lengthy” after its emergency committee met to evaluate the crisis six months after sounding the international alarm.

The committee “highlighted the anticipated lengthy duration of this COVID-19 pandemic”, the WHO said in a statement, and warned of the risk of “response fatigue” given the socio-economic pressures on countries.

The panel gathered Friday for the fourth time over the coronavirus crisis, half a year on from its January 30 declaration of a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) – the WHO’s highest level of alarm………

Warning over crisis fatigue

Several countries around the world have imposed strict lockdowns in a bid to control the spread of the respiratory disease, plunging economies into sharp contraction.

The committee urged the WHO to provide nuanced, pragmatic guidance on COVID-19 management “to reduce the risk of response fatigue in the context of socio-economic pressures”.

The panel urged the WHO to support countries in preparing for the rollout of proven therapeutics and vaccines.

Warning over crisis fatigue

Several countries around the world have imposed strict lockdowns in a bid to control the spread of the respiratory disease, plunging economies into sharp contraction.

The committee urged the WHO to provide nuanced, pragmatic guidance on COVID-19 management “to reduce the risk of response fatigue in the context of socio-economic pressures”.

The panel urged the WHO to support countries in preparing for the rollout of proven therapeutics and vaccines.

It called for improved understanding of the epidemiology and severity of COVID-19, including its long-term health effects.

And the committee wanted more light shed on the dynamics of the virus, such as “modes of transmission, shedding, potential mutations; immunity and correlates of protection”.

The near six-hour gathering was hosted at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, with some participants joining via video-link.

The committee will reconvene within the next three months……..https://www.sbs.com.au/news/the-who-says-coronavirus-is-a-once-in-a-century-crisis-that-will-impact-lives-for-decades

August 3, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health | Leave a comment

Next type of coronavirus may be on its way

August 3, 2020 Posted by | 2 WORLD, health | Leave a comment

Bangladesh flooding – a victim of global heating, though not a contributer to it

 

 

 

A Quarter of Bangladesh Is Flooded. Millions Have Lost Everything.

The country’s latest calamity illustrates a striking inequity of our time: The people least responsible for climate change are among those most hurt by its consequences.  NYT,   By Somini Sengupta and Julfikar Ali Manik  30 July 20, 

Torrential rains have submerged at least a quarter of Bangladesh, washing away the few things that count as assets for some of the world’s poorest people — their goats and chickens, houses of mud and tin, sacks of rice stored for the lean season.

It is the latest calamity to strike the delta nation of 165 million people. Only two months ago, a cyclone pummeled the country’s southwest. Along the coast, a rising sea has swallowed entire villages.  And while it’s too soon to ascertain what role climate change has played in these latest floods, Bangladesh is already witnessing a pattern of more severe and more frequent river flooding than in the past along the mighty Brahmaputra River, scientists say, and that is projected to worsen in the years ahead as climate change intensifies the rains.

“The suffering will go up,” said Sajedul Hasan, the humanitarian director of BRAC, an international development organization based in Bangladesh that is distributing food, cash and liquid soap to displaced people.

This is one of the most striking inequities of the modern era. Those who are least responsible for polluting Earth’s atmosphere are among those most hurt by its consequences. The average American is responsible for 33 times more planet-warming carbon dioxide than the average Bangladeshi.

This chasm has bedeviled diplomacy for a generation, and it is once again in stark relief as the coronavirus pandemic upends the global economy and threatens to push the world’s most vulnerable people deeper into ruin.

An estimated 24 to 37 percent of the country’s landmass is submerged, according to government estimates and satellite data By Tuesday, according to the most recent figures available, nearly a million homes were inundated and 4.7 million people were affected. At least 54 have died, most of them children. ……. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/30/climate/bangladesh-floods.html

August 3, 2020 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans to weaken safety standards for smaller nuclear reactors

 Smaller Nuclear Plants May Come With Less Stringent Safety Rules, npr, August 1, 2020
The NRC is considering whether to shrink emergency planning and evacuation zones around these newer reactors — from a 10-mile radius to, in some cases, the boundary of the plant site.

Nuclear energy critics say that would be a mistake.

“When you’re talking about a reactor that’s never been built or operated, you have to take with a big grain of salt the claims that it’s actually safer or more secure,” says Edwin Lyman at Union of Concerned Scientists.

He says the industry also wants to use weaker reactor containment shells, and in some cases they don’t want to have to keep an operator at the site.

Lyman thinks companies should build plants under current rules first. “You have to work out the kinks of these new plants,” he says. “And then over time you might be able to adjust your requirements accordingly. But you don’t do that at the get-go.”

A National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) official recently echoed some of Lyman’s concerns in comments sent to the NRC. The NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy.

Deputy Under Secretary Jay Tilden called the proposed rule a major departure from “the successful 42-year-old practice of using a 10-mile plume exposure emergency planning zone.” That existing regulation, he wrote, provides “the last layer of a defense-in-depth for low-probability, high-consequence accidents.” ………

The NRC has extended a comment period on the proposed rule to September 25th. A final rule on whether to shrink evacuation zones around plants is expected next year.

August 3, 2020 Posted by | safety, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

Rokkasho plant should be shut down in energy policy shift

jjljlJapan Nuclear Fuel Ltd.’s Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, in 2018

July 31, 2020

Japan’s nuclear watchdog has effectively endorsed the safety of a controversial nuclear reprocessing plant being built in a village along the Pacific coast in northern Japan.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority on July 29 approved an outline of safety measures for the trouble-plagued nuclear fuel reprocessing plant Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. is building in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture.

The NRA said the outline meets the new safety standards introduced after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The NRA’s decision marks a major step forward in constructing the plant for recovering plutonium from spent nuclear reactor fuel, the core facility for the government’s program to establish a nuclear fuel recycling system.

NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa, however, stressed that the body’s decision does not mean an endorsement of the nuclear fuel recycling policy per se, saying in a news conference that it is a “policy issue” whether there is enough of a rationale for pursuing the policy.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration should confront the reality that the catastrophic accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has completely changed the environment surrounding nuclear power generation and make a fundamental review of the government’s nuclear energy policy.

Nuclear fuel recycling involves recovering plutonium from spent nuclear fuel to be reused in reactors. The government has been promoting recycling separated plutonium back into the fuel of reactors since the 1950s under the rationale that Japan, a nation poor in natural resources, needs to make more efficient use of nuclear fuel.

More than half a century on, the share of nuclear power generation in Japan’s overall electricity production is now very small as most of the reactors that were shut down in the wake of the Fukushima meltdowns have yet to be restarted.

It is also nearly impossible to find a site for building a new nuclear plant. As aged reactors will be decommissioned one after another in the coming years, the importance of nuclear power generation for Japan’s energy supply will steadily diminish.

Over the long term, Japan needs to phase out nuclear power generation to remove public anxiety about a large-scale accident. 

Nuclear fuel recycling can have no great significance in this new era when Japan has to start shifting away from atomic energy. Many industrial nations have long given up nuclear reprocessing as economically unviable.

Another big problem with reprocessing the spent fuel is that it produces plutonium, a material that can also be used to make nuclear weapons.

Japan has a stockpile of some 46 tons of plutonium, stored both at home and abroad, an amount enough to make 6,000 atomic bombs. It is fueling fears and drawing criticism internationally.

Japan Nuclear Fuel’s plant in Rokkasho is designed to have the capacity of reprocessing 800 tons of spent nuclear fuel annually to recover 7 tons of plutonium.

But the plan to develop a fast neutron reactor that can “consume” plutonium by transforming it into other forms of nuclear waste, the key technology for plutonium consumption, has gone awry with the decision to decommission Japan’s “Monju” prototype sodium-cooled fast-breeder reactor.

There are clearly also limitations to the plan to burn so-called MOX (mixed oxide) fuel, which is usually plutonium blended with natural uranium, in existing nuclear reactors.

The government has promised the international community to reduce the nation’s surplus plutonium. That means the reprocessing operation at the Rokkasho plant will have to be restricted so that the amount of plutonium recovered will not exceed consumption.

It simply does not make sense to spend as much as 14 trillion yen ($134.33 billion) on building the plant to recover a small amount of plutonium.

Given that this huge cost will be passed onto consumers through higher electricity bills, it is impossible to win broad public support for the project.

If the government decides to pull the plug on the fuel recycling program, it will have to face tough policy challenges it has long avoided tackling, such as how to dispose of spent fuel. But the nation cannot make the inevitable leap into the new age of energy if it continues spending huge amounts on nuclear power generation, which is beset by so many problems.

There is a growing global trend toward renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power. This is the time for the government to make a radical shift in its energy policy.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13594167

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Hiroshima court recognizes Hiroshima ‘black rain’ victims outside designated area as hibakusha after 75 years

How long will it take for the Fukushima victims outside the evacuation zone to be finally all recognized?

kjkljlkmlmùIn this October 2019 file photo, the cenotaph for the 1945 atomic bombing victims is seen at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park. The Atomic Bomb Dome is seen in the background.

Japan court recognizes Hiroshima ‘black rain’ victims outside designated area as hibakusha

July 29, 2020

HIROSHIMA (Kyodo) — A Japanese court ruled Wednesday that state health care benefits should be extended to people who were exposed to radioactive “black rain” after the 1945 U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima outside a zone currently recognized by the government.

The Hiroshima District Court ruled in favor of a suit filed by 84 plaintiffs in their 70s to 90s. It said they should receive the same health care benefits as provided for atomic bomb survivors who were in the zone where the state has recognized black rain fell.

It is the first court decision regarding the boundary of the area affected by radioactive rain and subsequent health problems among survivors.

Presiding Judge Yoshiyuki Takashima said, “It is possible black rain fell outside the designated zone and reasonable to conclude that they were affected by radiation if they were exposed (to such rain.)”

The court then determined that the plaintiffs developed diseases specific to atomic bomb survivors due to the effect of black rain.

Following the ruling, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a press conference the government has not decided whether to appeal the ruling.

The designated area lies northwest of the hypocenter of the atomic bombing on Aug. 6, 1945 and measures about 19 kilometers in length and 11 km in width.

People who were recognized as being in the affected area at the time of the bombing are eligible to receive periodic health checkups free of charge. Among them, those who developed illnesses believed to be caused by radiation effects can receive free health care services in principle.

The 84 plaintiffs including deceased individuals represented by family members developed such illnesses as cancer and cataracts after they were exposed to black rain containing radioactive materials outside the designated area and consumed contaminated food and water.

They had applied to the city and prefectural governments of Hiroshima for health care benefits for atomic bomb survivors between 2015 and 2018, but their applications for atomic bomb survivors’ certificates were turned down.

The plaintiffs sued the Hiroshima city and prefectural governments from 2015, seeking the nullification of their decisions.

The local governments insisted there was no scientific evidence that radioactive rain fell on areas outside the designated zone and the plaintiffs’ health problems were caused by their exposure to radiation.

The ruling was also welcomed by people in Nagasaki Prefecture, where an atomic bomb was also dropped three days after Hiroshima and there are survivors who claim to have been exposed to radioactive rain but have not been eligible for the state’s healthcare aid.

“(The ruling) departed from the unscientific ways of judging whether plaintiffs are ‘hibakusha’ (A-bomb survivors) simply based on distances (from the hypocenter) and administrative jurisdictions,” said Koichi Kawano, an 80-year-old resident of the town of Nagayo in Nagasaki, who survived the bombing.

Japan’s law on supporting atomic bomb survivors defines victims eligible for state aid in the following four categories.

They are those who were directly exposed to the bombing, people who entered within 2 km from the hypocenters of Hiroshima or Nagasaki in the period of two weeks from the attacks, those who were affected by radiation while rescuing survivors or other reasons and fetuses exposed to radiation in the womb.

The plaintiffs claimed they fit into the third category.

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200729/p2a/00m/0na/015000c?fbclid=IwAR0Jcfzh9G2QorEV5AvocihbC-u-RMx5bHCHJAo_fRYPL28r-1xwNC70MZE

Hiroshima court recognizes atomic bomb ‘black rain’ victims

July 29, 2020

TOKYO — A Japanese court on Wednesday for the first time recognized people exposed to radioactive “black rain” that fell after the 1945 U.S. atomic attack on Hiroshima as atomic bomb survivors, ordering the city and the prefecture to provide the same government medical benefits as given to other survivors.

The Hiroshima District Court said all 84 plaintiffs who were outside of a zone previously set by the government as where radioactive rain fell also developed radiation-induced illnesses and should be certified as atomic bomb victims. All of the plaintiffs are older than their late 70s, with some in their 90s.

The landmark ruling comes a week before the city marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. bombing.

The U.S. dropped the world’s first atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, killing 140,000 people and almost destroying the entire city. The plaintiffs were in areas northwest of the ground zero where radioactive black rain fell hours after the bomb was dropped.

The plaintiffs have developed illnesses such as cancer and cataracts linked to radiation after they were exposed to black rain, not only that which fell but also by taking water and food in the area contaminated with radiation.

They filed the lawsuit after Hiroshima city and prefectural officials rejected their request to expand the zone to cover their areas where black rain also fell.

In Wednesday’s ruling, the court said the plaintiffs’ argument about their black rain exposure was reasonable and that their medical records showed they have health problems linked to radiation exposure.

One of the plaintiffs, Minoru Honke, who was exposed to black rain at age 4, said more than a dozen people died during the trial. “I want to tell them that we won,” he said.

Osamu Saito, a doctor who has examined atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima, welcomed the ruling for considering the survivors’ welfare based on an assumption that anyone who was in these areas and hit by the rain could have been affected by radiation.

Earlier in the day, dozens of plaintiffs walked into the Hiroshima court in the rain, showing a banner saying “Certificates to all ‘black rain’ victims.” As soon as the ruling was issued, lawyers for the plaintiffs ran out of the court, showing a banner saying “Full victory,” and their supporters applauded and cheered.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters that the government will closely examine the ruling and respond after consulting with related government agencies and Hiroshima officials.

https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/japan-court-recognizes-atomic-bomb-black-rain-victims-72048703?fbclid=IwAR3qDcplBFUW90rv_m9sX94DMASgnm41cwGIeM0L_LC7lr7H4c7ps9IZbpM

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Tohoku disaster funds spent for wining, dining company execs

llmlmùmA convoy of trucks transports radioactive debris from decontamination work.

July 27, 2020

Subcontractors hired to rebuild the disaster-stricken Tohoku region created slush funds with taxpayer money to wine and dine and give cash to senior officials of four major construction companies, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.

The combined sum of the slush funds reached at least 160 million yen ($1.51 million), a result of padded bills paid for by revenue collected under a new tax levied for reconstruction projects in the region.

The four construction companies whose executives accepted the gifts from the subcontractors are Shimizu Corp., Hazama Ando Corp., Kajima Corp. and Taisei Corp. Together, they received more than 1 trillion yen worth of government contracts to rebuild the Tohoku region from the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The projects included disposal of the mountains of debris generated by the tsunami and rebuilding communities affected by the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

The subcontractors received orders from those four general contractors, inflated the costs of the work, and pooled the excess money into slush funds.

Cash gifts from the slush funds were presented to senior officials of those companies at their branches in the Tohoku region who had an influential say in selecting subcontractors and how the funds for the projects should be allocated.

The slush funds also covered parties at night clubs to entertain the executives and even paid for the cost of overseas trips.

The slush funds were uncovered by the Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau, sources said.

An employee with a subcontractor said that on one occasion, the company was forced to shell out more than 1 million yen to cover the drinking expenses of a senior Kajima official at a high-end club.

The employee also said the subcontractor used the slush fund to buy an expensive watch that the Kajima official wanted to give to a hostess, and to pay for the expenses of his frequent trips to the Philippines.

The Kajima official was also given “pocket money” worth 300,000 yen to 500,000 yen per occasion, the employee said.

A Tokyo company received a contract from Shimizu to clean up Okuma, a town co-hosting the crippled nuclear plant.

Shimizu overpaid the company for the work, allowing it to build a slush fund totaling tens of millions of yen.

On 10 occasions, the subcontractor used the slush fund to give a cash gift to a senior Shimizu official who oversaw the Okuma project. It also used the fund to entertain the official over dinner.

A Hazama Ando official in a similar high-level position is believed to have taken about 10 million yen from a slush fund of a subcontractor in connection with a project to dismantle buildings in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture.

The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau ordered the Shimizu subcontractor and Hazama Ando to pay back taxes and penalties for tax evasion, saying payments from the slush funds to their senior officials should have been declared as earnings.

After the slush funds came to light, the gift-receiving senior officials with Shimizu and Hazama Ando left their companies.

A company in Hyogo Prefecture that sells waste-disposal machinery accumulated a slush fund totaling 44 million yen from 2014 to 2015 through business transactions with another company. The two companies were involved in the tax-funded rebuilding projects in the Tohoku region.

The Hyogo company planned to use the slush fund to give money to senior officials with Taisei and Kajima.

Taisei was in charge of waste disposal in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, while Kajima oversaw a project to build a waste-processing facility in Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture.

Multiple subcontractors involved in a reconstruction project in Miyako, Iwate Prefecture, pooled together about 100 million yen in a slush fund to provide favors to a senior Kajima official and other officials at the site and others.

Tax authorities in Osaka and Sendai are looking into the cases.

Asked by The Asahi Shimbun about allegations he received 10 million yen from a slush fund, the former Hazama Ando official said, “I cannot say anything other than the fact that I left the company.”

The senior official with Kajima declined to comment.

Shimizu acknowledged that the senior official in the field accepted excessive entertainment from the subcontractor. It said the official’s actions caused the company to lose money that should have been reported as profit.

The official in question paid back the money he received (to Shimizu) and quit,” a Shimizu official said.

Taisei said the company does not provide details about deals with subcontractors.

Over eight years from 2011, more than 12 trillion yen in taxpayer money was spent on infrastructure projects to construct roads, embankments and housing in the disaster-hit region. In excess of 6 trillion yen in public money has been spent on rebuilding communities from the nuclear disaster.

The bulk of these funds came from revenue from the new tax to reconstruct Tohoku.

The construction industry, which had been battered by a sharp drop in public works projects, experienced a record boom with the Tohoku-related projects.

(This story was compiled from reports by Takashi Ichida, senior staff writer, Yuta Hanano and Hiroyoshi Itabashi.)

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13581931

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Robot to use brush to retrieve melted fuel at Fukushima plant

jkllmmThe robotic arm to be used for collecting melted fuel at the No. 2 reactor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant (Provided by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning)

hkjlkmA vacuum vessel to collect powdered nuclear debris (Provided by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning)

July 27, 2020

FUKUSHIMA–A robotic arm under development in Britain will use a brush and vacuum vessel on its end to collect melted fuel in a step toward retrieving debris at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Details of the device, which will start collecting debris inside the No. 2 reactor on a trial basis next year, were announced on July 2.

The government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. plan to retrieve melted fuel at the No. 2 reactor ahead of two other reactors because radiation levels are relatively low.

The No. 2 reactor, along with the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, suffered meltdowns following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

The situation inside the No. 2 reactor is relatively known through past inspections. It has been confirmed that apparent debris in the lower part of its containment vessel can be collected with a robot.

Measuring 22 meters long and weighing 4.6 tons, the robotic arm will be made of high-strength stainless steel so it will not bend when stretched out.

It will be inserted into a closed box connected to a hole made on the side of the containment vessel and remotely operated to prevent radioactive substances from being released.

The arm will attach powdered nuclear debris to its brush and also suck the debris with its vacuum vessel.

Under the plan, debris totaling approximately 1 gram or so will be collected in each of the several rounds of the trial procedure.

An experiment will start in Britain as early as August with the use of a model of the containment vessel.

The robotic arm will be transported to Japan around February for the training of operators at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s facility in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture.

The retrieved fuel will be measured for weight and radiation levels, put in a metal transfer vessel and moved to an analysis center in Ibaraki Prefecture.

In the full-scale retrieval stage, different equipment will be used.

Melted fuel to be removed is estimated to record a radiation reading of 6 millisieverts per hour even at distances of 20 centimeters from it.

That means the annual dose limit for ordinary individuals of 1 millisievert will be reached in 10 minutes.

Training is expected to reduce the time required for workers to put debris into the transfer vessel near the fuel.

Other measures to lessen workers’ doses will be taken, such as introducing panels to block radiation.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13529394

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Experts propose two methods to scrap Daiichi plant

20200726_14_863728_L

July 26, 2020

Japanese atomic energy experts have proposed two ways to decommission the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The Atomic Energy Society of Japan floated the two methods in a report.

One proposal is to dismantle and remove all parts of the reactor buildings and leave the site vacant. The other is to dismantle and remove parts of the reactor buildings that are above ground and leave behind the underground structures.

The experts say each method has been studied in the United States and European countries.

They say amounts of radioactive waste to be generated during decommissioning work will vary significantly, depending on when the dismantling of reactor buildings begins — namely, starting to dismantle contaminated buildings soon or waiting a certain period for their radiation levels to drop.

A decommissioning timeline released by the Japanese government and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, shows the scrapping process will be completed by 2051. But the plan is unclear on how the reactor buildings will be decommissioned.

Miyano Hiroshi, a member of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, says it will be difficult to draw a conclusion from various arguments on how to decommission the plant. But he adds discussions are important and that he hopes the society’s report will contribute to the debate.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200726_14/?fbclid=IwAR135prg8cmB7Yw5kdFWbeCitGEIWkPqIxi6Hgryx-PV-2HwN9ksZKld7CU

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment

Robots in Fukushima monitor cucumber production in IT-farming joint project

np_file_25710-870x653Katsumi Hashimoto (left) president of the Fukushima Seed Center, talks about how he teamed up with two other technology companies to make cucumber farming less labor intensive.

Jul 24, 2020

Three ventures from the IT and farming industries have started testing methods to produce cucumbers with less human labor in Sukagawa, Fukushima Prefecture, in the hope that it will reinvigorate the agriculture industry suffering from a worsening labor shortage, including a lack of successors.

Two technology companies, Benefic Co. and MK tech, have teamed up with Fukushima Seed Center and established a project team called Smart Agri Fukushima.

The team created a 1,300-square-meter testing greenhouse, planted 2,000 cucumbers and is monitoring temperatures, humidity and carbon dioxide among other data remotely using robots. The team has already shipped 1.6 tons of produce to a local agricultural cooperative, with a plan to expand the greenhouse to 1 hectare, or eight times the current scale, in the next five years.

In developing robots to monitor the cucumbers, Benefic will be in charge of its software while MK tech will manufacture the hardware. In the greenhouse, cucumbers are produced through a unique hanging method, which makes it easier for robots to monitor the produce, rather than the usual method which is to cut the plant at a certain height.

According to the seed center, the Sukagawa area, well-known for cucumbers, has been struggling for years with a shortage of labor, causing farmers to automate the farming process to make it more attractive to younger people. In the future, they hope to spread the smart farming method nationwide.

We want to protect cucumber farming by making the fields less labor intensive,” said Katsumi Hashimoto, president of the seed center.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/07/24/national/robots-farming-fukushima/

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Activist Professor Unveils English-language Video Warning of Tokyo Olympics Radiation Risk

July 24, 2020

SEOUL, July 24 (Korea Bizwire)Ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics scheduled to be held next year in Japan, Seo Kyung-duk, a professor at Sungshin Women’s University, unveiled on Thursday a video in English on social media such as YouTube, Instagram and Facebook, warning that the radiation risk still remains high in Japan.

The four-minute video focuses on highlighting the risk of being exposed to radioactive materials in Fukushima.

In 2013, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared that the radiation in Fukushima was sufficiently under control.

The video, however, claims that in the seven years after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the region’s nuclear power plant and its neighboring areas still remain a dangerous radioactive area, with the radiation level of some Fukushima areas being up to 1,775 times higher than internationally recommended levels.

The video warned that the Fukushima nuclear disaster is not terminated but still underway, adding that those who want to visit the Tokyo Olympics should be careful about the risk of being exposed to radiation.

The Japanese government plans to host some Olympic games in Fukushima as well as providing ingredients and foods from Fukushima to the athletes participating in the Tokyo Olympics,” Seo said.

This move is a sign that the Japanese government only wants to use the Tokyo Olympics as a chance to herald the rebuilding of Fukushima, neglecting the region’s radiation risk.”

Lina Jang (linajang@koreabizwire.com)

http://koreabizwire.com/activist-professor-unveils-english-language-video-warning-of-tokyo-olympics-radiation-risk/165490

August 3, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , | Leave a comment