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Japanese government continues Japan’s ”Nuclear Village” generous grants to keep ageing nuclear reactors going.

Lucrative grants offered to keep aging nuclear reactors running,


April 7, 2021   
The central government is offering billions of yen in new grants to Fukui Prefecture to allow a nuclear plant operator to run its aging reactors beyond their operational life span of 40 years.

Fukui is not the only prefecture in Japan that hosts old reactors, and the grants could create momentum toward the restarts of these units.

“As for an expansion of grants, up to 2.5 billion yen ($22.6 million) will be provided per nuclear plant to a prefecture preparing to respond to the extension of the 40-year life of reactors,” the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said in a document presented to the Fukui prefectural government on April 6.

The ministry’s offer is expected to become a key point of discussions as Fukui Prefecture and the prefectural assembly begin to weigh whether they should approve of the restart of three reactors in question there.

Fukui Governor Tatsuji Sugimoto hailed the central government’s offer, calling it “a step forward.”
He had urged the prefectural assembly to discuss the restart issue in February, but the assembly put off the debate, citing a lack of measures to revitalize the local economy.

Osaka-based Kansai Electric Power Co. is pushing to reactivate the three reactors in Fukui Prefecture–the No. 1 and 2 reactors at the Takahama nuclear plant in Takahama and the No. 3 reactor at the Mihama nuclear plant in Mihama.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority has given its one-time permission to operate those reactors for 20 more years beyond their 40-year life spans.

If the local governments approve the restarts, Fukui Prefecture would receive a combined 5 billion yen under the new grant setup.

The town halls of Takahama and Mihama have already given the greenlight to the restarts. The remaining hurdle is whether the governor and the prefectural assembly will approve them.

The maximum 2.5 billion yen will be made available over a period of five years, according to the industry ministry’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy.

The offer of the funds came in response to the Fukui prefectural government’s request for additional grants concerning the reactors as a measure to stimulate the local economy.

The prefectural government is expected to discuss how to distribute the grants with Takahama and Mihama.

Other prefectures hosting old reactors operated by companies seeking the 20-year extension will be eligible for the new grants.

The only other facility that has gained the NRA’s permission to operate beyond 40 years is the Tokai No. 2 nuclear plant in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Five other reactors in Japan have been in service for more than 35 years.

The decommissioning process has started for other aging reactors because their operators decided that upgrades and additional safeguard measures required to bring them back online would be too expensive.

(This article was written by Kenji Oda and Takayuki Sato.)

April 8, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, Japan, politics | Leave a comment

As the Climate Crisis Grows, a Movement Gathers to Make ‘Ecocide’ an International Crime Against the Environment 

As the Climate Crisis Grows, a Movement Gathers to Make ‘Ecocide’ an International Crime Against the Environment    InsideClimateNews,   7 Apr 21, International lawyers, environmentalists and a growing number of world leaders say “ecocide”—widespread destruction of the environment—would serve as a “moral red line” for the planet.By Nicholas Kusnetz, Katie Surma and Yuliya TalmazanApril 7, 2021  The Fifth Crime: First in a continuing series with NBC News about the campaign to make “ecocide” an international crime.

In 1948, after Nazi Germany exterminated millions of Jews and other minorities during World War II, the United Nations adopted a convention establishing a new crime so heinous it demanded collective action. Genocide, the nations declared, was “condemned by the civilized world” and justified intervention in the affairs of sovereign states. 

Now, a small but growing number of world leaders including Pope Francis and French President Emmanuel Macron have begun citing an offense they say poses a similar threat to humanity and remains beyond the reach of existing legal conventions: ecocide, or widespread destruction of the environment.

The Pope describes ecocide as “the massive contamination of air, land and water,” or “any action capable of producing an ecological disaster,” and has proposed making it a sin for Catholics. 

The Pontiff has also endorsed a campaign by environmental activists and legal scholars to make ecocide the fifth crime before the International Criminal Court in The Hague as a legal deterrent to the kinds of far-reaching environmental damage that are driving mass extinction, ecological collapse and climate change. The monumental step, which faces a long road of global debate, would mean political leaders and corporate executives could face charges and imprisonment for “ecocidal” acts. 

To make their case, advocates point to the Amazon, where fires raged out of control in 2019, and where the rainforest may now be so degraded it is spewing more climate-warming gases than it draws in. At the poles, human activity is thawing a frozen Arctic and destabilizing the ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica. 

Across the globe, climate change is disrupting the reliable seasonal rhythms that have sustained human life for millenia, while hurricanes, floods and other climate-driven disasters have forced more than 10 million people from their homes in the last six months. Fossil fuel pollution has killed 9 million people annually in recent years, according to a study in Environmental Research, more than tuberculosis, malaria and AIDS combined. 

One in four mammals are threatened with extinction. For amphibians, it’s four in 10.

Damage to nature has become so extensive and widespread around the world that many environmentalists speak of ecocide to describe numerous environmentally devastated hot spots: 

  • Chernobyl, the Ukrainian nuclear plant that exploded in 1986 and left the now-deserted area dangerously radioactive;
  • The tar sands of northern Canada, where toxic waste pits and strip mines have replaced 400 square miles of boreal forest and boglands;
  • The Gulf of Mexico, site of the Deepwater Horizon disaster that killed 11 people, spilled at least 168 million gallons of crude oil into the ocean over 87 days and killed countless marine mammals, sea turtles, fish and migratory birds; 
  • The Amazon, where rapid deforestation encouraged by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro prompted Joe Biden, during his presidential campaign, to propose a $20 billion rescue plan and threaten the Brazilian leader with economic sanctions.

The campaign to criminalize ecocide is now moving from the fringe of advocacy into global diplomacy, pushed by a growing recognition among advocates and many political leaders that climate change and environmental causes are tied inherently to human rights and social justice.

The effort remains a long shot and is at least years from fruition, international and environmental law experts say. Advocates will have to navigate political tensions over whether national governments or the international community have ultimate control over natural resources. And they’ll likely face opposition from countries with high carbon emissions and deep ties to industrial development. …………………

Into the Mainstream

While the campaign for an ecocide law could take years—if it is successful at all—advocates say the effort could bear fruit much sooner: The ecocide campaign has thrust the concept into public discussion. 

Mehta doesn’t expect the campaign to catch fire in the United States, but after four years of President Donald Trump, she’s heartened by the arrival of John Kerry, Biden’s special climate envoy. “We don’t expect the U.S. to join the ICC any time soon, but that said, the conversation around ecocide itself, we don’t see any reason why it can’t start happening in the U.S.,” she said.  

The State Department released a statement saying that the U.S. “regularly engages with other countries” on “the importance of preventing environmental destruction during armed conflict,” but added, “We do not comment on the details of our communications with foreign governments.”

Mehta’s campaign is also part of a wider effort by activists who have been looking to the courts to force more aggressive action on climate change.

As of July 1, 2020, at least 1,550 climate change cases have been filed in 38 countries, according to a U.N. report.

In the landmark Urgenda case, a Dutch court ruled in 2015 that the government had acted negligently by failing to take aggressive enough action to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. The decision, upheld by the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in 2019, ordered the government to hit specific emissions reductions targets and sparked a series of similar lawsuits in other countries…………..

April 8, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment, legal | Leave a comment

Japan’s Prime Minister getting ready to release Fukushima waste water into the Pacific ocean?

Reuters 6th April 2021, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will hold a ministerial meeting as early as next week to start discussions on the release of contaminated Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant water into the ocean, broadcaster FNN said on Tuesday.

Suga is also expected to meet with the head of the national federation of fisheries cooperatives as early as Wednesday to discuss the potential release of the water. The water, which is treated but contains traces of tritium, was used to cool the reactors in the aftermath of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Power Plant’s nuclear disaster in 2011 and is now stored within the grounds of the power plant.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Opposition to uranium and rare earths mining – party wins Greenland election

Left-wing party opposed to rare earth mining project wins Greenland election,  A left-wing environmentalist party opposed to a controversial mining project won a clear victory in Greenland’s parliamentary election, according to results released Wednesday. 7 Apr 21,

With 36.6 percent of the vote, Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) was ahead of Siumut, a social democratic party that has dominated politics in the Danish territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

“Thank you to the people who trusted us to work with the people in the centre for the next four years,” IA leader Mute Egede said on KNR public television after the results were announced.

IA, which was previously in opposition, is expected to grab 12 out of the 31 seats in the Inatsisartut, the local parliament, up from eight currently.

But without an absolute majority, the most likely scenario is that IA joins forces with smaller parties to form a coalition.   Siumut, which headed the outgoing government, was partly weakened by internal struggles. It gained 29.4 percent of the vote, still two percentage points higher than its results in the 2018 election.

The dividing line between the two parties was whether to authorise a controversial giant rare earth and uranium mining project, which is currently the subject of public hearings.

The Kuannersuit deposit, in the island’s south, is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals — a group of 17 metals used as components in everything from smartphones to electric cars and weapons.

IA has called for a moratorium on uranium mining, which would effectively put a halt to the project.

Divisions over Kuannersuit originally triggered the snap election in the territory after one of the smaller parties left the ruling Siumut coalition.

Opponents say the project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has too many environmental risks, including radioactive waste.

Egede told KNR he would immediately start discussions to “explore different forms of cooperation” before forming a coalition government.

The 34-year-old, who has been a member of the Inatsisartut since 2015, took over the reins of the left-green party a little over two years ago.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | ARCTIC, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Nuclear waste director: Proposed New Mexico nuclear waste storage facility is illegal, 

Nuclear waste director: Proposed New Mexico nuclear waste storage facility is illegal, (The Center Square) 7 Apr 21, – Safety and economic concerns over a proposed nuclear waste storage facility near Carlsbad have prompted the state of New Mexico to sue the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

To be built by Holtec in southeast New Mexico, the facility would be an above-ground complex for storing spent fuel from commercial nuclear power plants.

The state’s lawsuit is built on legal concerns.

Holtec has stated the federal government is going to fund the facility, but according to federal law, utilities are responsible for storage, said Don Hancock, director of the Southwest Research and Information Center’s Nuclear Waste Program.

The state argues consistently throughout the complaint that this whole facility is illegal because the federal law doesn’t authorize the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to authorize this kind of consolidated facility,” he told The Center Square.

Hancock added that the state’s entire list of complaints is 47 pages long.

“The federal government has said in law that this spent fuel, this irradiated fuel from nuclear power plants, is highly toxic and highly dangerous, and its permanent disposal requires it to be disposed deep underground in stable geologic formations, so that’s the law,” he said. “This facility is none of that.”

Holtec and NRC attempted to circumvent that issue by terming the storage facility as temporary, however, the state pointed out that Holtec and NRC can’t provide a timeframe for when it would be moved and have admitted they don’t have any plans for where it would go, said Hancock.

These legal concerns only compound the economic issues raised.

The facility would be built in the middle of the biggest oil and gas production areas in the state and poses a significant threat to operations.

“In the best of all circumstances it would be disruptive and, the worst of all circumstances, it would close down a multi-million dollar industry,” Hancock said.

Disruption would be caused by global perceptions that New Mexico oil producers are OK with having an illegal nuclear storage facility nearby that could leak into the supply of oil, Hancock said. The worst-case scenario is a leak that leaves New Mexico’s oil supply radioactively contaminated and causes billions of dollars in economic damage.

“If there was a leak or an accident and the nation and the world heard there was a major nuclear accident in the middle of the oil and gas production field of New Mexico or Texas, what do you think people are going to think about that?” he asked.

After failed attempts to get the NRC to consider their concerns, the state turned to the courts to make their voice heard, said Hancock.

“The state feels ignored,” he said.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

75 years after nuclear testing in the Pacific began, the fallout continues to wreak havoc 

75 years after nuclear testing in the Pacific began, the fallout continues to wreak havoc
April 6, 2021  Patricia A. O’Brien 
Patricia A. O’Brien is a Friend of The Conversation.Historian, Visiting Fellow in the School of History, Australian National University and Adjunct Professor in the Asian Studies Program, Georgetown University,    This year marks 75 years since the United States launched its immense atomic testing program in the Pacific. The historical fallout from tests carried out over 12 years in the Marshall Islands, then a UN Trust Territory governed by the US, have framed seven decades of US relations with the Pacific nation.Due to the dramatic effects of climate change, the legacies of this history are shaping the present in myriad ways.

This history has Australian dimensions too, though decades of diplomatic distance between Australia and the Marshall Islands have hidden an entangled atomic past.

In 1946, the Marshall Islands seemed very close for many Australians. They feared the imminent launch of the US’s atomic testing program on Bikini Atoll might split the earth in two, catastrophically change the earth’s climate, or produce earthquakes and deadly tidal waves.

A map accompanying one report noted Sydney was only 3,100 miles from ground zero. Residents as far away as Perth were warned if their houses shook on July 1, “it may be the atom bomb test”.

Australia was “included in the tests” as a site for recording blast effects and monitoring for atom bombs detonated anywhere in the world by hostile nations. This Australian site served to keep enemies in check and achieve one of the Pacific testing program’s objectives: to deter future war. The other justification was the advancement of science.

The earth did not split in two after the initial test (unless you were Marshallese) so they continued; 66 others followed over the next 12 years. But the insidious and multiple harms to people and place, regularly covered up or denied publicly, became increasingly hard to hide.

Radiation poisoning, birth defects, leukaemia, thyroid and other cancers became prevalent in exposed Marshallese, at least four islands were “partially or completely vapourised”, the exposed Marshallese “became subjects of a medical research program” and atomic refugees. (Bikinians were allowed to return to their atoll for a decade before the US government removed them again when it was realised a careless error falsely claimed radiation levels were safe in 1968.)

In late 1947, the US moved its operations to Eniwetok Atoll, a decision, it was argued, to ensure additional safety. Eniwetok was more isolated and winds were less likely to carry radioactive particles to populated areas.

Australian reports noted this site was only 3,200 miles from Sydney. Troubling reports of radioactive clouds as far away as the French Alps and the known shocking health effects appeared.

Dissenting voices were initially muted due to the steep escalation of the Cold War and Soviet atomic weapon tests beginning in 1949.

Opinion in Australia split along political lines. Conservative Cold War warriors, chief among them Robert Menzies who became prime minister again in 1949, kept Australia in lockstep with the US, and downplayed the ill-effects of testing. Left-wing elements in Australia continued to draw attention to the “horrors” it unleashed.

The atomic question came home in 1952, when the first of 12 British atomic tests began on the Montebello Islands, off Western Australia.   Australia’s involvement in atomic testing expanded again in 1954, when it began supplying South Australian-mined uranium to the US and UK’s joint defence purchasing authority, the Combined Development Agency.

Australia’s economic stake in the atomic age from 1954 collided with the galvanisation of global public opinion against US testing in Eniwetok. The massive “Castle Bravo” hydrogen bomb test in March exposed Marshall Islanders and a Japanese fishing crew on The Lucky Dragon to catastrophic radiation levels “equal to that received by Japanese people less than two miles from ground zero” in the 1945 Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic blasts. Graphic details of the fishermen’s suffering and deaths and a Marshallese petition to the United Nations followed.

When a UN resolution to halt US testing was voted on in July, Australia voted for its continuation. But the tide of public opinion was turning against testing. The events of 1954 dispelled the notion atomic waste was safe and could be contained. The problem of radioactive fish travelling into Australian waters highlighted these new dangers, which spurred increasing world wide protests until the US finally ceased testing in the Marshalls in 1958.

In the 1970s, US atomic waste was concentrated under the Runit Island dome, part of Enewetak Atoll (about 3,200 miles from Sydney). Recent alarming descriptions of how precarious and dangerous this structure is due to age, sea water inundation and storm damage exacerbated by climate change were contested in a 2020 Trump-era report.

The Biden administration’s current renegotiation of the Compact of Free Association with the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and its prioritisation of action on climate change, will put Runit Island high on the agenda. There is an opportunity for historical redress for the US that is even more urgent given the upsurge in discrimination against US-based Pacific Islander communities devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Some are peoples displaced by the tests.

Australia is also embarking on a new level of engagement with the Marshall Islands: it is due to open its first embassy in the capital Majuro in 2021.It should be remembered this bilateral relationship has an atomic history too. Australia supported the US testing program, assisted with data collection and voted in the UN for its continuation when Marshallese pleaded for it to be stopped. It is also likely Australian-sourced atomic waste lies within Runit Island, cementing Australia in this history.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | environment, OCEANIA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

4,000 Fukushima waste bags contain unidentified radioactive materials

Mainichi 6th April 2021, Of the 85,000 containers holding radioactive waste placed in the radiation-controlled area of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the contents of about 4,000 have not been identified, operator Tokyo ElectricPower Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO) announced on April 5. According to TEPCO, it began listing the contents of the containers after the meltdown in 2011, but about 4,000 of them remain unidentified. The company says it will formulate a survey plan and proceed to determine what they hold.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Putin amassing, testing, huge military arsenal in the Arctic

Daily Mail 5th April 2021, Satellite images appearing to show Russia beefing up its military presence
in the Arctic have emerged just days after three of Moscow’s nuclear ballistic missile submarines smashed through the polar region in a show of strength. The images show the Russian military has been rebuilding and expanding numerous facilities across the Arctic in recent years.

revamping runways to deploying additional surveillance and air defence assets, the satellite images reveal a continuous effort to expand Moscow’s capabilities in the polar region.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | ARCTIC, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Bitcoin mining to consume more electricity than whole of Australia by 2024 — RenewEconomy

Researchers warn bitcoin mining could undermine efforts to reach global climate targets, with electricity consumption expected to surpass that of Australia. The post Bitcoin mining to consume more electricity than whole of Australia by 2024 appeared first on RenewEconomy.

Bitcoin mining to consume more electricity than whole of Australia by 2024 — RenewEconomy

The amount of electricity consumed by bitcoin mining operations will surge over the next three years, consuming more power than entire countries, including that of Australia, new research has predicted.

In a new research paper published in the journal Nature Communications, researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Tsinghua University have projected that on current trends, bitcoin mining electricity consumption will more than double from its current levels, peaking in 2024.

At that time, the researchers say, the total electricity consumption of Bitcoin miners will reach as high as 297 terawatt-hours annually if no measures are undertaken to curb energy use or emissions. This will be more than the annual electricity consumption of the whole of Australia, which currently stands at around 265 terawatt-hours per year.

The surge in electricity consumption will see bitcoin rank as the equivalent of the 12th largest electricity consumer amongst all countries, higher than the likes of major European economies, including Italy and Spain.

The researchers say that without stricter regulatory controls, the growing energy demand of Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies more broadly could undermine global sustainability efforts.

Using a simulated carbon emissions model, the research led by researchers Dabo Guan and Shouyang Wang estimates that Bitcoin mining will be responsible for 130 million tonnes of carbon emissions – higher than the emissions of countries like Qatar and the Czech Republic.

The operation of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin requires substantial computational power to process transactions and to maintain a transaction ledger.

Computers dedicated to processing these transactions are awarded in return for their computational power by being issued units of the cryptocurrency.

The offer of potentially lucrative cryptocurrency units in return for computing resources has sparked a surge in investment in dedicated ‘mining’ equipment, which has sent energy consumption surging with it.

This has particularly been the case in China, where access to cheaper supplies of electricity and ready access to the necessary computer equipment has made bitcoin mining a profitable venture.

It is estimated that around 70 per cent of bitcoin miners are located in China.

But the researchers said that the operations are already causing electricity demand throughout China to increase, with bitcoin mining ranking in the top 10 among China’s 182 prefecture-level cities, as well as amongst 42 major industrial sectors in China.

Bitcoin is already responsible for approximately 5.4 per cent of China’s electricity emissions.

The researchers warned that the bitcoin mining operations could undermine China’s efforts to meet its targets under the Paris Agreement.

“The Paris Agreement is a worldwide agreement committed to limit the increase of global average temperature,” the research paper says.

Under the Paris Agreement, China is devoted to cut down 60 per cent of the carbon emission per GDP by 2030 based on that of 2005. However, according to the simulation results of the [blockchain carbon emission] model, we find that the carbon emission pattern of Bitcoin blockchain will become a potential barrier against the emission reduction target of China.”

As Ketan Joshi reported for RenewEconomy, the quest to supply Bitcoin mining operations with cheap sources of power have seen operators turn to fossil fuel generators for their supplies of electricity.

The researchers suggest that an ‘individualised’ approach that encourages miners to shift away from regions predominantly powered by coal and into regions that can act as a source of zero emissions electricity.

he paper warns that the imposition of carbon prices or taxes may only work to shift miners to other countries with lower energy costs, potentially seeing them continue to use supplies of fossil fuel electricity.

The researchers say miners should be moved into regions with higher proportions of renewable energy supplies, such as hydroelectricity, and supporting operations to take advantage of surplus electricity supplies.

While this ‘site regulation’ approach modelled by the researchers showed electricity demand growing even higher, potentially reaching 320 terawatt-hours by 2025, however, emissions will be substantially lower.

“Among all the intended policies, Site Regulation shows the best effectiveness, reducing the peak carbon emission per GDP of the Bitcoin industry to 6 kg per USD. Overall, the carbon emission per GDP of the Bitcoin industry far exceeds the average industrial carbon intensity of China, which indicates that Bitcoin blockchain operation is a highly carbon-intense industry,” the paper says

April 8, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, China, ENERGY | 1 Comment

Climate change probably increasing this problem – nuclear reactors halted because of jellyfish-like sea salps

Jellyfish-like organisms force South Korea to halt its 2 nuclear reactors, salps — gelantinous, marine organisms that look like jellyfish — have clogged water systems used to cool nuclear reactors in South Korea, forcing two units offline.

Sea salps — gelantinous, marine organisms that look like jellyfish — have clogged water systems used to cool nuclear reactors in South Korea, forcing two units offline.

It’s the second time in less than three weeks Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. shut the Hanul No. 1 and No. 2 units, after salps clogged water intake valves. The reactors, which each have a capacity of 950-megawatts, resumed operation last week before shutting again Tuesday.

Sea salps can link up into chains several meters in length and have been said to resemble a crystal chandelier drifting through the ocean. The organisms typically increase in number in June but that appears to have happened in March this year due to earlier-than-normal warm currents, said Yu Ok Hwan, a deputy director at Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology.

“We can’t say yet if the surge in salps is due to the changing climate or other factors,” said Youn Seok-hyun, a research scientist at National Institute of Fisheries Science. “It should be regarded as a temporary phenomenon unless we see a continuous increase over the next decade.”

The number of sea salps has been gradually rising in recent years, according to Chae Jinho, the head of Marine Environment Research & Information Laboratory. “Given the current trend, there’s a possibility we may see more of these shutdowns at reactors in the coming years,” he said.

South Korea has 24 operable nuclear plants with a combined capacity of more than 23 gigawatts.

The country isn’t the only one to have been forced to halt nuclear generation temporarily after sea life clogged water cooling systems. Electricite de France SA in January had to disconnect all four reactors at its Paluel nuclear plant on France’s north coast after fish got stuck in the filter drums of the pumping station.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | climate change, safety, South Korea | Leave a comment

Japan halts restart of nuclear plant over poor anti-terror measures

Japan halts restart of nuclear plant over poor anti-terror measures,
Japanese regulators last month fined a nuclear power plant operator over the organization’s inadequate anti-terrorism measures at a plant, and on Wednesday the operator announced that it would accept the penalty, further hurting its plans to restart operations at the facility for at least a year.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), which was also the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant that was destroyed in the 2011 disaster, made the announcement in response to a decision by the Nuclear Regulation Authority in late March to ban it from moving any nuclear materials at the No. 7 reactor at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata prefecture.

The measure will suspend all ongoing steps to restart the plant. Regulators found malfunctioning anti-terrorism equipment and inadequate protection of nuclear materials at multiple locations at the plant from at least 2018………….

he punishment comes as TEPCO was making final preparations to restart the plant after regulators granted safety approvals for its No. 6 and No. 7 reactors in 2017.

Restarting the two reactors is considered crucial for TEPCO to reduce its financial burden in paying for damage caused by the Fukushima disaster. The penalty does not affect the wrecked Fukushima plant, which is being decommissioned.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he will make a final decision “within days” on whether to allow the release into the sea of massive amounts of treated but still radioactive water stored at the plant. TEPCO is expected to run out of storage space for the water in the fall of 2022……..

TEPCO and government officials say radionuclides can be filtered to allowable safety levels, but some experts say the impact on marine life from long-term, low-dose exposure is still unknown…….

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Japan, safety | Leave a comment

Japan has the ability to become both coal-free and nuclear-free

Can Japan Be Both Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free?

Japan can – and should – pursue an energy mix that is both carbon-neutral and avoids reliance on nuclear energy. The Diplomat,   By Daisuke Akimoto  7 Apr 21,
Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, scheduled to have summit talks with U.S. President Joe Biden on April 16, has been pursuing a carbon-neutral society. On October 26, 2020, Suga delivered a policy speech to the Japanese parliament and declared that “by 2050 Japan will aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero.” Internationally, the Paris Agreement entered in to effect in 2016, and Japan as a signatory to the treaty is obliged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to limit global warming.

Japan has been under international fire on climate issues, as it is the world’s fifth largest emitter of carbon dioxide. In an interview with Mainichi Shimbun on May 20, 2019, Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg criticized the fact that Japan had relied on coal-fired energy for more than 30 percent of its total amount of electricity, and planned to build and export new coal-fired plants. For this reason, Suga’s pledge to pursue a carbon-zero society was welcomed by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

According to a poll reported by Reuters on December 9, 2020 however, many Japanese companies were pessimistic about the feasibility of the government’s carbon-free goal. n its policy proposal of March 2021, the powerful Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) suggested that the government should rely on efficient coal-fired power generation and nuclear energy as well. Before the 2011 nuclear accident in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japan operated as many as 54 nuclear power plants, but currently, only nine nuclear power plants are in operation. Keidanren proposed that about 30 nuclear power plants should be brought back online by 2030.

Japan has been under international fire on climate issues, as it is the world’s fifth largest emitter of carbon dioxide. In an interview with Mainichi Shimbun on May 20, 2019, Swedish environment activist Greta Thunberg criticized the fact that Japan had relied on coal-fired energy for more than 30 percent of its total amount of electricity, and planned to build and export new coal-fired plants. For this reason, Suga’s pledge to pursue a carbon-zero society was welcomed by U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

According to a poll reported by Reuters on December 9, 2020 however, many Japanese companies were pessimistic about the feasibility of the government’s carbon-free goal. n its policy proposal of March 2021, the powerful Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) suggested that the government should rely on efficient coal-fired power generation and nuclear energy as well. Before the 2011 nuclear accident in the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, Japan operated as many as 54 nuclear power plants, but currently, only nine nuclear power plants are in operation. Keidanren proposed that about 30 nuclear power plants should be brought back online by 2030.

Does Japan really need to continue its reliance on nuclear energy as a means of achieving a carbon-neutral society? In exploring answers to this energy conundrum, it is important to look to the changes in nuclear power’s share of electricity generation in Japan. In 2010, the 54 nuclear power plants generated nearly 25 percent of the total amount of electricity produced in Japan. Presently however, the nine nuclear reactors in operation produce a mere 6 percent of the total electricity generated in Japan, indicating that Japan has successfully managed to deal with its electricity shortage without too much dependence on nuclear power in the past 10 years.

Likewise, public opinion about Japan’s nuclear energy policy needs to be taken into consideration. According to a survey by the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization, 87 percent of respondents in 2010 agreed that nuclear power was necessary, but that the percentage plummeted to 24 percent in 2013, after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. In a 2019 survey, only 12 percent of respondents stated that nuclear power generation should be maintained or increased, whereas 60 percent replied that nuclear power should be phased out or abolished immediately. Clearly, a majority of the Japanese people do not support the reactivation of the existing nuclear power plants, much less construction of new ones.

From a different viewpoint, Japan’s reliance on nuclear energy has military implications. U.S. Senator Edward Markey has pointed out the possibility of nuclear proliferation in Northeast Asia, warning that Japan’s stockpile of plutonium amounted to 48 tons as of 2017, which was nearly equal to the U.S. military’s stores and sufficient to create more than 6,000 nuclear warheads. Some experts, such as Professor Arima Tetsuo at Waseda University, have argued that the possession of a vast amount of plutonium – more than necessary for commercial use – symbolizes Japan is keeping opening the option to possess nuclear weapons. Paradoxically however, Tomas Kaberger, chair of the Executive Board of the Renewable Energy Institute, contended that nuclear reactors and reprocessing plants could be targeted in the event of armed attack, increasing Japan’s military vulnerability.

lthough the Suga administration does not plan to build new nuclear reactors, the government would depend on nuclear energy to achieve the carbon-neutral goal. This is because most lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) insist on the necessity of nuclear energy, which is regarded as a rich source of political support. However, an increasing number of LDP politicians have been supportive of the gradual decommissioning of the nuclear power plants.

Akimoto Masatoshi, former parliamentary vice minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, is the most conspicuous LDP legislator advocating for decommissioning nuclear reactors in Japan. Akimoto, a key ally of Suga, has argued that it is possible to create a carbon-free society without nuclear reactors. Likewise, Kono Taro who has prime ministerial ambitions and serves as minister for administrative reform and regulatory reform, has been convinced that it is desirable for Japan to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels and nuclear energy by facilitating the further introduction of renewable energy……….

Without doubt, the landscape of international politics has been transforming in response to the global climate change and energy transformation, which will eventually change Japanese politics. On March 11, five former prime ministers – Hosokawa Morihiro, Murayama Tomiichi, Koizumi Junichiro, Hatoyama Yukio, and Kan Naoto – expressed a joint declaration calling for the Suga government’s policy shift toward a nuclear-free Japan. Learning from the lessons of Fukushima, Suga and candidates for future Japanese prime minister who share nuclear-free ideals, such as Kono Taro and Environment Minister Koizumi Shinjiro, are expected to take bold actions to transform Japan’s energy policy toward a carbon-free and nuclear-free Japan.

April 8, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, Japan | Leave a comment

Russia planning to test a ‘doomsday’ nuclear-powered torpedo in the Arctic.

Russia sends ‘doomsday’ nuclear-powered torpedo for test in the Arctic,  Marc Bennetts, Moscow, Wednesday April 07 2021, 12.00pm BST, The Time   The United States has said that it is watching Russia’s military build-up in the Arctic “very closely” as the Kremlin presses ahead with the testing of a nuclear-powered torpedo.

Russia is believed to be planning to deploy the Poseidon 2M39 missile, nicknamed the “doomsday nuke”, to its Arctic region by the summer of next year. The underwater drone has a range of 10,000km and is designed to detonate off the coastline of enemy cities, flooding them with radioactive waves that would render them uninhabitable for decades. In February President Putin asked the defence ministry for an update on a “key stage”’ of the tests of the Poseidon torpedo. Additional testing is due this year……… (Subscribers only)

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

UK losing credibility with its new, ambiguous, nuclear weapons policy.

U.K. NUCLEAR WEAPONS: BEYOND THE NUMBERS,  War On The Rocks, HEATHER WILLIAMS, APRIL 6, 2021, Sometimes numbers only tell part of the story, even when talking about nuclear weapons. For instance, the United Kingdom recently announced that it was increasing the cap on its nuclear stockpile from 225 to 260 warheads. The move — outlined in its government’s highly anticipated review of security and defense policy, Global Britain in a Competitive Age: The Integrated Review of Security, Defence, Development and Foreign Policy — largely took nuclear policy experts by surprise and reversed decades of British reductions. The government explained that the decision to increase its nuclear stockpile for the first time in decades was due to a worsening strategic landscape and technological threats, particularly Russian advances in missile defense and hypersonic weapons. The fact that the United Kingdom decided to make this decision now should be a wakeup call to those concerned about the security of the West and the global nuclear order.

The decision to boost the number of warheads in its arsenal wasn’t the only major nuclear policy change that the United Kingdom included in the Integrated Review. The document explained that the United Kingdom would no longer provide specifics about its nuclear stockpile or the conditions under which it would consider nuclear weapons use. In other words, the United Kingdom has now fully committed to a doctrine of strategic ambiguity. This approach is similar in some respects to what the United StatesNATORussia, and China have done. But the increase in the warhead stockpile and reliance on strategic ambiguity come at a cost to nuclear diplomacy, and it will be difficult for the United Kingdom to balance these changes with its commitment to being a responsible nuclear power.

The announcement of an increase in the warhead stockpile, in particular, could not have come at a worse time for nuclear diplomacy. In August 2021, the United Kingdom and 190 other states will gather for a meeting of the parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which includes a commitment to the “cessation of the nuclear arms race” and “general and complete disarmament.” It will be a challenge for the United Kingdom to demonstrate progress towards nuclear disarmament five months after it has announced an increase in its stockpile cap. The reliance on strategic ambiguity also potentially undermines the country’s efforts to promote nuclear transparency among the treaty’s signatories. Obviously there are other considerations for the United Kingdom’s nuclear doctrine than the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but these changes could damage its credibility on disarmament matters. The United Kingdom, therefore, should take additional steps to demonstrate its commitment to transparency, including providing more information on its nuclear modernization plans and leading on risk reduction efforts in the context of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Reasons for a Larger Stockpile: Security and Technology

In its strategic reviews published in 2010 and 2015, the United Kingdom set a cap of 225 warheads and committed to reducing its stockpile ceiling to 180 warheads by the mid-2020s. The new Integrated Review increases the country’s nuclear stockpile ceiling to 260 warheads, a potential increase of approximately 15 percent from the current stockpile and 45 percent from the previous target.

The U.K. decision reverses decades of progress towards nuclear disarmament. …………

The Price of Ambiguity

Alas, the increased nuclear stockpile and the doctrine of strategic ambiguity will undermine the United Kingdom’s nuclear diplomacy. The move will open the country up to charges of hypocrisy. Future British delegations to international nonproliferation and disarmament negotiations should expect to be asked why other countries should make progress on these issues when the United Kingdom is building up its own nuclear arsenal. While this may seem relatively inconsequential compared to deterring Russian nuclear forces, it will make it harder for the United Kingdom to advance its interests in other areas that it cares about, especially within the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty……………………..

April 8, 2021 Posted by | politics international, UK, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Explanation of a nonsense tweet from U.S. Strategic Command

Cryptic ‘;l;;gmlxzssaw’ tweet from official US nuclear agency account sparks confusion, US Strategic Command runs the country’s powerful nuclear weapons force. 31/03/2021,  Headquartered in Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, Stratcom manages the US military’s strategic deterrence – that is, the massive nuclear weapons force and missile defenses that are designed to discourage any attack against the country by other powers.

So its media comments are closely watched for signs of any change in its current defense stance….

Filed a FOIA request with U.S. Strategic Command to see if I could learn anything about their gibberish tweet yesterday. Turns out their Twitter manager left his computer unattended, resulting in his “very young child” commandeering the keyboard.

But Stratcom told reporter Mikael Thalen of the Daily Dot that the tweet was no secret message, and was instead was the result of a Stratcom social media editor working from home.

“The Command’s Twitter manager, while in a telework status, momentarily left the Command’s Twitter account open and unattended. His very young child took advantage of the situation and started playing with the keys and, unfortunately, and unknowingly, posted the tweet,” Stratcom official Kendall Cooper said in a letter Thalen posted online.

“Absolutely nothing nefarious occurred, ie no hacking of our Twitter account.”

April 8, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment