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Fukushima nuclear power plant plans seabed tunnel to discharge treated radioactive water into ocean

22 déc. 2021

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has unveiled plans to build an underwater tunnel to release treated radioactive water into the sea. The Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) submitted detailed plans on December 21, 2021, to the nuclear regulation authority for approval. In 2011, a devastating earthquake and tsunami sparked a nuclear disaster on Japan’s northeastern coast. Nearly 1.3 million tonnes of contaminated water has to be processed to eliminate radioactive contamination, except for tritium, which cannot be removed. Japan’s plans to dump the treated water in the ocean have raised concerns among neighbouring China and South Korea, as well as farmers and fisherfolk.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Tepco to build underwater tunnel for Fukushima water release

December 21, 2021

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant intends to build an underwater tunnel to release water from the plant into the sea, it said on Tuesday (Dec 21), as part of a project to treat and dispose of contaminated water.

A decade after a massive earthquake and tsunami ravaged the north-eastern coast, disabling the plant and causing the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, nearly 1.3 million tonnes of contaminated water have accumulated at the site.

The water, enough to fill about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools, is stored in huge tanks at an annual cost of about 100 billion yen (S$1.2 billion), and space is running out.

This year, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) outlined plans to discharge more than one million tonnes of the water, after treatment and dilution, from a point about 1km offshore from the power station.

Tepco submitted detailed plans on Tuesday to the nuclear regulation authority for approval, company official Junichi Matsumoto told reporters.

Pumps would move the treated water from the tanks to the seashore and through a seabed tunnel to release it at a depth of 12m, and about 1km out at sea, the firm said.

Although the international authorities support the water discharge effort, it has provoked concern from neighbours China and South Korea and worried local farmers and fisherfolk.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

Wrecked Fukushima Nuclear Plant One Step Closer to Releasing Radioactive Water Into Pacific

A protestor holds a slogan during a rally against the Japanese government’s decision to release treated water from the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the sea, outside of the prime minister’s office in Tokyo on April 13, 2021.

December 21, 2021

The operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant is one step closer to releasing treated radioactive water into the Pacific ocean after applying for approval Tuesday to create a tunnel to the Pacific ocean to dispose of the water safely.

The nuclear power plant was severely damaged in 2011 after a massive earthquake triggered a tsunami that caused contamination of their cooling water, which then began leaking. The 1,000 tanks storing the contaminated water will reach capacity next year, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO), said.

TEPCO plans to create the sea tunnel so they can release a massive amount of treated radioactive water into the ocean. The Nuclear Regulation Authority needs to approve the plan, including the tunnel’s design, equipment needed to dilute the water and other materials.

The contaminated water will be treated with seawater to reduce the levels of radioactive material to reach a safe level that won’t harm the environment. The water will be released about half a mile from the plant and about 40 feet below the ocean’s surface, according to TEPCO’s plan.

TEPCO wants to start construction in June so they can begin to release the radioactive water by April 2023.

The contaminated water is to be diluted to reduce the concentration of radioactive materials below allowable limits.

About 1,000 storage tanks filled with the radioactive water need to be removed to make room for facilities necessary for the plant’s decommissioning, TEPCO says.

Increasing amounts of radioactive water have been stored at the plant. The plant says the storage tanks currently hold about 1.29 million tons of water and will reach their capacity of 1.37 million tons by early 2023.

An official in charge of the water discharge project, Junichi Matsumoto, said TEPCO will construct the undersea tunnel by drilling through bedrock in the seabed.

The government in April approved the decision to start discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean under safety standards set by regulators, calling it the most realistic option. The idea has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, residents and neighboring countries including China and South Korea.

https://www.newsweek.com/wrecked-fukushima-nuclear-plant-one-step-closer-releasing-radioactive-water-pacific-1661836

December 23, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

S. Korea holds emergency meeting over Japan’s Fukushima water release plans

21 déc. 2021

Earlier this year… Japan announced plans to discharge treated radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear power plant. Neighboring countries expressed concerns. As Tokyo submit a request for an approval… Seoul reiterated its opposition to the idea.

Kim Do-yeon has the details. South Korea has expressed deep concern to Japan after its electrical company Tepco on Tuesday requested regulatory approval to release treated radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea.

South Korea held an emergency Vice Ministerial meeting… and the country’s nuclear safety chiefl affirmed their stance on the matter.

“To share the main points of the letter, we’ve requested that during the process of collecting opinions, in addition to Japan, other countries’ opinions should be taken into account as well as…. while cooperating with the international community. In addition, we requested that relevant information should be transparent, and Japan be cooperative and prompt to South Korea’s request to confirm the release is safe.”

This was the second time South Korea used its nuclear safety commission as a means to send a message to Japan.

The first time was earlier this year when Japan said it had decided to push for the discharge of more than 1 million tons of the water into the ocean.

Tepco’s appeal for regulatory approval this time around… was around 500 pages long… detailing how the water will be released as well as the extent of the dilution process. The firm said… pumps would move the treated water from the tanks to the seashore and through a seabed tunnel before releasing it at a depth of 12 meters, and about 1 kilometer out at sea.

South Korean authorities plan on examining the appeal thoroughly and will request additional information. They will also strengthen its watch over the level of radioactivity in the sea. Currently… it has 32 spots in coastal waters to check for levels of tritium and cesium, and it is planning to add 2 more spots with more frequent checks being carried out.

Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima 2021 | , , , | Leave a comment

Australian government and Labor opposition ignore the suffering of Australian Julian Assange. Can they afford to, as election looms?

If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia.

the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

Saving Julian Assange,  Last week, the British High Court ruled that Julian Assange can be extradited to face charges in the United States. His fiancée, Stella Moris, vows to continue the fight alongside his network of supporters. By Amy Fallon.  https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/news/politics/2021/12/18/saving-julian-assange/163974600013099?fbclid=IwAR2dLaNxKG0FTyBvywjYpL_HpxPb8RWA6rF0mQwIE-X8Pnd8TMbAzkWed2Y#mt This week, Stella Moris said she and Julian Assange still intended to marry in the new year, although they have not set a date. She is currently speaking to the prison about arrangements. Moris hopes it will be a ceremony attended by close family and friends, with their children, Gabriel, 4, and Max, 2, taking part.

“The High Court ruling has made things even more precarious than before,” she tells The Saturday Paper.

“But that has only strengthened our determination to celebrate what is constant and certain in our lives – our love and support for each other.”

Moris is a South-African born lawyer and an activist in her own right. Her family were involved in the anti-apartheid battle. After the British High Court ruled that her fiancé could be extradited to the United States, her response was simple: “We will fight.”

“History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

She sees the case in these terms: “Every generation has an epic fight to fight, and this is ours, because Julian represents the fundamentals of what it means to live in a free society.”Last week’s decision was made after two of Britain’s most senior judges ruled Assange, earlier deemed a suicide risk, had received assurances from the US that he would not face the strictest measures before a trial or once convicted. They found a lower court had erred in offering him protection.

“That risk is in our judgement excluded by the assurances which are offered,” one of the judges, Lord Burnett, said. “It follows that we are satisfied that, if the assurances had been before the judge, she would have answered the relevant question differently.”

British Home Secretary Priti Patel must now approve Assange’s extradition. Lawyers for the 50-year-old are appealing the decision. Subsequent hearings are likely to raise the issue of free speech, which campaigners say is at the heart of the case involving the Walkley Award-winning journalist.Many around the world are now calling on the Australian government to intervene and save Assange’s life before it’s too late.

“There seem to be no limits to the savagery of the Anglosphere – US, UK, Australia – in exacting revenge for the crime of informing the population of what the powerful want to conceal,” the intellectual and activist Noam Chomsky later told The Saturday Paper.

He urged followers of Julian Assange, wanted by the US for breaking espionage laws after publishing hundreds of thousands of Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and diplomatic cables, to “get organised”.

“And act,” added Chomsky, because there was “not much time”.
Another two to three years may drag on before the extradition is resolved. Australian journalist John Pilger, who described Assange as “frail and skeletal” the last time he hugged his friend in 2020, said the fact he was still alive was remarkable.

Last weekend’s revelation, that Assange had suffered a stroke in October, didn’t shock the veteran reporter. A month earlier, a Yahoo News report revealed that the CIA allegedly planned to assassinate Assange.

“If he dies, his death will have been caused by, among others, politicians in Australia who have the diplomatic power to bring him home,” Pilger said.“Scott Morrison, in particular, will have Julian’s life and suffering on his hands, along with those in the Labor opposition who have kept a cowardly silence. History will not spare them if we lose a man who is not only innocent of any crime but a genuine hero in the extraordinary public service he has performed for millions of people.”

To Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, Julian, is a “bad dancer” with a “dorky sense of humour”. But, he says, “he is very sweet with his children, very good with kids, and a very principled man”.

Shipton produced the recent documentary Ithaka, which tells the story of Gabriel and Julian’s father’s struggle to have Assange freed.“Often people lose sight that these are actual real people involved, not just a head on a screen, or a headline, that this is a person’s father, brother, partner,” Shipton says. “Once people find out about how tragic the actual injustice that Julian suffered [is], and through no fault of their own his family are suffering, they’re quite confronted that they’ve allowed it to carry on for as long as it has.”

Shipton concedes the fight is just as much or even more political than legal, and others echo this. “There is no doubt that [this] aggressive and relentless pursuit is driven by the US security and defence state,” said Greg Barns, a barrister and adviser to the Australian Assange campaign.

A bipartisan Australian Parliamentary Friends of the Bring Julian Assange Home group comprises 25 senators and MPs, but was adding “about one member or so monthly”, says Shipton. In the past week, Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has spoken out against Assange being sent to the US. Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, among others, has said that Scott Morrison must urge the US and Britain to release Assange and let him return to Australia. The opposition has urged the government to encourage the US to close the matter, although it has not elaborated on what it means by this.According to Kellie Tranter, a Maitland-based lawyer, human rights activist, researcher and former WikiLeaks Party candidate, the “noise” in parliament combined with more public awareness of Assange’s dire state may present a headache for the government as polls loom.

“If the level of interest keeps increasing, the government may feel obliged to act as the Howard government did in the case of David Hicks,” she says, referring to the former Guantánamo Bay detainee. “The last thing the government wants is this case soaking up oxygen in place of its policies. It’s public criticism, which is exactly what they wanted to avoid in the case of Hicks.”Tranter points out that progressive campaign group GetUp! played a critical role in Hicks’s repatriation by making his detention by the US an election issue, mobilising public opinion against his mistreatment. They may be the only organisation capable of doing the same in this case, she said. GetUp! said they had no comment on Assange.

In Britain, Assange has admirers from all walks of life. Sadia Kokni, 40, is British-born with African, Indian and Middle Eastern heritage and the managing director of a cosmetics company. Despite having a disability, she attends twice-weekly protest vigils at the Australian high commission with “Team Assange”, comprising about 50 people, including bus drivers, graphic designers, nurses and artists.

“I campaign for nothing, I only campaign for Julian,” Kokni says. “Unlike when people campaign against a war – it’s a nation against a nation – when it comes to Julian it’s the most powerful nation in the world against one man and he’s exposing the atrocities of global governance and things that every living person should be aware of.”

Although Kokni acknowledges Assange’s predicament could be treated with greater urgency by the British parliament, she also feels disbelief over Australia’s inaction.“They could be doing a lot more, Australia. I find it ridiculous,” she said, singling out the high commissioner, George Brandis. “Brandis – what is he actually doing? Has he written any letters?”

The Australian high commission in Britain did not respond to requests for comment.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, media, politics | Leave a comment

European Commission experts call on EU not to label nuclear ‘green’

Commission experts call on EU not to label nuclear ‘green’,  https://euobserver.com/climate/153891, BWESTER VAN GAAL 22 Dec 21

BRUSSELS, Thirteen members of the EU Commission’s Technical Expert Group (TEG) put out a petition on Tuesday (21 December) calling on nuclear energy not to be labelled as ‘green’.

“We recommend that nuclear fission has no place on the EU taxonomy of sustainable activities,” the group, led by Dawn Slevin, a financial expert and core member of the commission’s financial stability TEG, wrote.

Dealing with the “do no significant harm” principle in the taxonomy, they concluded nuclear may damage the environment due to the need to store it in underground bunkers for thousands of years, and “because the risk of a severe nuclear accident cannot be excluded, even in the best commercially available nuclear power plants.”

They also warn against politicisation of the rules. “Proponents of nuclear energy use the taxonomy to put a ‘scientific’ stamp on what is primarily a political position on nuclear fission energy aiming to satisfy the few EU member states that wish to promote the associated technologies,” the petition states.

France is spearheading an alliance of 10 member states that argue that nuclear fission and gas-fired power plants should be included in the taxonomy.

The TEG members point out that France and Finland are currently the only EU countries actively building nuclear facilities.

The Finnish Olkiluoto-3 was meant to start generating power in 2009, followed by the French Flamanville-3 in 2012.

However, both are still not operational, tripling anticipated costs, the group wrote. The group includes Paolo Masoni, a nuclear engineer, and Eric Laes, a post-doctoral researcher specialising in atomic energy at the Technical University of Eindhoven.

Politicised debate

In recent months, the decision on whether to include nuclear and gas in the taxonomy has become politicised.

Last week, EU internal market commissioner Thierry Breton told five European newspapers, including Die Welt, that “it is a lie that the EU can become CO2-neutral without nuclear power.”

French president Emmanuel Macron said last week that France and Germany will try to find a compromise on whether the EU should label nuclear and gas as green investments.

But on Monday, the German Greens, part of the new ruling coalition, came out strongly against nuclear, reiterating their opposition to the inclusion of nuclear in the taxonomy.

“The German government’s stance is that nuclear power is not one of the sustainable forms of energy [that] remains,” environment minister Steffi Lemke told fellow EU environment ministers in Brussels on Monday.

German climate and economics minister Robert Habeck later echoed his colleague on German radio Deutschlandfunk, saying: “I do not think nuclear power is the right technology.”

However, chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) did not make such a clear statement at the last EU summit on Friday – and admitted Germany will probably not be able to stop the French push for nuclear.

“France is taking a different path [than Germany]. Other countries do as well,” he said.

“That is why it’s important that you can follow your paths and at the same time stay together across Europe,” he added.

The commission planned to present its decision on nuclear and gas on Wednesday, but this has been postponed until mid-January next year.

It now plans to consult a draft version of the taxonomy with member states before the end of the year or at the start of January 2022 – a process that will be clarified on Wednesday.

The Sustainable Finance Platform, a group of 57 NGOs, scientific and financial experts will also be consulted.

The commission has faced backlash in the past from some of its members, including one of the signatories of the petition, for allowing gas an nuclear to be considered in what was meant to be a science-led exercise.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE | Leave a comment

Nuclear power has no business case and could make climate change worse

Nuclear power has no business case and could make climate change worse, https://thehill.com/opinion/energy-environment/586848-nuclear-power-has-no-business-case-and-will-make-climate-change  BY TIM JUDSON AND LINDA PENTZ GUNTER, — 12/21/21    The climate crisis is upon us, and we have no time to lose. We cannot afford a single false step. Even as the UN COP26 climate conference failed to put us on the necessary path to keep the world within 1.5 degrees Celsius of increased warming, there are still important choices to be made as countries roll out their latest climate plans.

That is why the United States, in its pursuit of carbon reductions, must not allow itself to be misled by the false promises of nuclear power, both its continued use and illusory new programs. Either would be a mistake.

The push to develop new nuclear is focused on so-called advanced reactors and Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), designs whose cost and safety uncertainties have not been satisfactorily addressed.

Yet, Congress is already looking to award just two “advanced” fast reactor designs — the Terrapower Natrium reactor and X-energy Xe-100 reactor — an extravagant $3.2 billion in subsidies, even though the former is a project of billionaires Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.  

 

SMRs, typically less than one-third the size of a traditional nuclear power reactor, would need to be brought on in their hundreds if not thousands to achieve the advertised cost savings, a factor that has left designs on the drawing board for decades and has not attracted buyers. 

Even if these unproven designs work, such a program would never be achieved at a scale or in time to make a dent in carbon emissions. 

This likely failure is reinforced by the recent experience of building new, traditional reactors. They consistently suffer massive delays and cost increases, which suggests commercializing new, untested reactor designs would not go faster or be any cheaper.

For example, another $1 billion was just added to the ever-escalating tab at the two Westinghouse reactors at Plant Vogtle in Georgia — underway since 2013, yet still unfinished — with costs ballooning to over $33 billion, and further delays likely pushing final completion into 2024 if ever.

The French-designed Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) is arguably a spectacular failure with massive cost-overruns, long delays and endless interruptions.

The French-designed Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) is arguably a spectacular failure with massive cost-overruns, long delays and endless technical flaws. It is still unfinished — with costs ballooning to over $33 billion, and further delays likely pushing final completion into 2024 if ever. Most recently, at the now-operating Taishan 1 EPR in China,vibrations damaged fuel rods, forcing its shutdown. The problem could be linked to a design flaw also found in the four still unfinished EPRs in Europe, causing a French nuclear lab to raise doubts about their safety.

However, the “zero-emission” mantra has been used to justify the inclusion of nuclear power plants in state and federal subsidies. If it had survived the machinations of Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), the promising Build Back Better Act may have still shot itself in the foot by including a massive $35 billion subsidy for already-operating nuclear plants in its “Zero-Emissions Nuclear Energy Production Credit.” This subsidy would have funneled billions of dollars to corporations that own nuclear power plants, nearly all of which will continue operating with or without such support. 

Subsidizing nuclear power siphons funds from real solutions, like renewables, just when these are needed most urgently, thereby making climate change worse.

Redirecting funds to old nuclear plants further misses the point that even were they carbon-free, this does not alone mean nuclear power is a good way to address the climate crisis because it ignores its two biggest climate drawbacks— time and cost. 

As Stanford physicist Amory Lovins has pointed out, to address the climate crisis expeditiously and effectively, we must choose energy sources that can reduce the greatest amount of carbon emissions most quickly and at the least cost. This is where renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation beat out nuclear power — as well as now gas and coal as well.

A recent Sussex University study showed that countries that have focused on nuclear power have not significantly reduced carbon emissions. Meanwhile, countries with strong renewable energy programs have.

Nuclear power has no business case and takes too long. That alone should rule it out as useful to climate protection, even before we look at other disqualifying factors such as the environmental justice and health impacts of long-lived lethal radioactive waste and potential meltdowns. Our future should not hinge on the nuclear industry’s false choice between climate chaos and cancer-causing pollution. We can and must do better.

Tim Judson is executive director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, a non-profit environmental organization founded in 1978 that works for a just and equitable transition to renewable energy and a nuclear-free, carbon-free world.

Linda Pentz Gunter is the international specialist at Beyond Nuclear, an anti-nuclear non-profit organization working for a world free from nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

Recognizing these challenges, the U.S. nuclear industry is focusing most of its energy on keeping its current fleet of 93 reactors running, arguing that they are carbon-free. This is patently false — and not true of any man-made energy source, including renewables, as long as mining, transportation and manufacturing of these technologies are so reliant on fossil fuels.

December 23, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment