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

Nuclear news – it’s been a big week

Some bits of good news – Climate-resilient coral species offer hope for the world’s reefs           How China uses renewable energy to restore the desert  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Uv-Yw9MZFE   Solar-Powered Desalination Device is a Game-Changer: Requires Only Cheap Common Materials and Sunlight.

I’m sorry, people, but they’re putting it over us big-time, on the root causes of  the current Ukraine disaster.. This week, I am shocked at the propaganda blanketing all media .  Universally we are brainwashed with the depiction of Putin as an evil madman, and of the need to buy ever more weaponry from the big USA, UK and German corporations. No – Putin is not a nice man, and Yes, the attack on Ukraine is illegal , cruel and wrong.   

BUT – there is never a mention of genuine negotiation, which would accept Russia’s genuine cause to not be surrounded by NATO and its missiles, not have Ukraine as a NATO base.  There is no consideration of the plight of ethnic Russians in the Donbass area, nor of the existence of the Nazi faction in the Ukrainian side  And there’s the mindless repetition of lies about Crimea, where 87% turned out to make a 97% vote to rejoin Russia. President Biden is doing his best, I suppose, but can he hold out against the belligerent calls for an air war against Russia?

  Julian Assange denied permission to appeal      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFk7Gqfmih8   Lies leave the Assange case exposed – this is a political persecution.

Los Alamos Study Group outlines a clear solution to the Ukraine war. So many half-truths from Zelensky, and from the nuclear industry! The politics behind Ukraine’s alarming nuclear warnings. Western media trumpets blanket condemnation of Putin, without any consideration of the circumstances

Ukrainians will pay the price in suffering for long drawn-out USA’s proxy war on behalf of wealthy corporationsHypocritical cries of grief from weapons and other corporate businesses, as Western governments and media ramp up war fever.

Umm….. Are we the baddies?

Women leading the fight against climate changeNew IPCC Report Calls for Adapting Today to Ensure Tomorrow’s Climate Security .

 ‘Limited’ Tactical Nuclear Weapons Would Be Catastrophic. Markets are in denial about nuclear risk.

The importance of continuous cooling of nuclear spent fuel.

I was a nuclear missile operator. There have been more near-misses than the world knows.

Ukraine war fills Pentagon’s, NATO allies’ war chests.

UKRAINENuclear facilities targeted in Russia’s war on Ukraine. Video analysis reveals Russian attack on Ukrainian nuclear plant veered near disaster.

 Ukrainian military to blow up experimental nuclear reactor at Kharkov Institute. Russians fire at Kharkov Institute nuclear reactor. [two versions of the story]. Research reactor in Kharkiv has been completely destroyed. IAEA doubts that the attack on Kharkiv Institute was a serious radiation hazard. 

External electricity returned to Chernobyl.     Chernobyl workers still stranded at the power station. Chernobyl nuclear workers ”exhausted and desperate’‘. Fears are growing over nuclear safety atthe Chernobyl nuclear plant as staff remain hostage. Chernobyl’s radiation monitoring system has stopped sending readings to IAEA. What a Power Cutoff Could Mean for Chernobyl’s Nuclear Waste.      The dangers of uncontrolled releases of the vast amounts of radioactivity contained in the Ukrainian reactors and their unprotected fuel stores should not be underestimated. 

EUROPE.. NATO fighters integrate with U.S. nuclear-capable B-52s in Black Sea region . European Union won’t be including nuclear power in its plan to get off Russian gas. European countries report a rush in sales of iodine tablets, in fear of nuclear war. Nuclear option is not the best for transition away from Russian fuels. European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) very anxious about Chernobyl nuclear situation. Former Yugoslav FM: U.S., NATO expansion root cause of Ukraine war.    EU military aid to Ukraine to exceed $1 billion.

RUSSIA. Russia prepared to stop war, if Ukraine agrees to conditions, including independence of Donbass areas. Russia’s disinformation machine, (and Trump’s, in USA).    Rosatom’s woes before and beyond the war: implications of Russia’s embattled nuclear industry.

SERBIA. Serbian parliament president: When Hitler entered Ukraine, the U.S. did not declare war. Serbia will not join NATO, will never forget bombing victims – president .

USA The US And Ukraine Have Every Reason To Lie About The War . Ukraine is a sacrificial pawn on the imperial chessboard. USA cheers Ukrainian fighters on, makes sure to keep Americans out of it.

JAPAN. Greenpeace statement on anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear accident. Japan’s power companies move to reduce plutonium stockpiles held overseasCourt rejects bid to suspend nuclear reactors in Takahama. Eleven years on and impact of Fukushima still felt in Japan.  Japan to finish radioactive soil transfer to interim storage site . Fukushima Workers Tell The Harrowing Story Of How They Tamed One Of The World’s Worst Nuclear Disasters.   Fukushima nuclear tragedy hovers over Japan and region 11 years after tsunami and accident.

GERMANY. German government concludes that it is unwise to extend the life of its remaining nuclear power stations.

UK.      UK love-in between Tories and Labour, on wasting billions of pounds on new nuclear reactors. Nuclear threat: Faslane, home to Trident, symbol of humanity’s power and folly.   UK’s Ministry of Defence called out for lobbying MPs on nuclear weapons. Investors keen on renewable energy, while UK govt is trapping consumers into paying upfront for nuclear power plants to be built in a decade or more, Hopes for Bradwell nuclear power station now fading away like the ebbing tide.


  Cumbrian campaigners’ strong opposition to nuclear waste dump in the Lake District. ‘‘Save the Severn Estuary’‘ fights to stop EDF dumping Hinkley Point’s nuclear mud into this Marine Protected Area. 

FRANCE. Macron government considering nationalising France’s debt-laden nuclear company EDF.  

AUSTRALIA. Morrison’s selected sites for nuclear submarine base were not the Defence Dept choices – and opposed by the local towns. Directors net $3.7 million in selling off their Paladin Energy uranium shares, then uranium stocks plummet. Scott Morrison has been urged to act over fears Australian uranium could be used to fuel Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Christina's notes | 1 Comment

Assange denied permission to appeal

March 14, 2022 Posted by | civil liberties, Legal, UK | Leave a comment

Hypocritical cries of grief from weapons and other corporate businesses, as Western governments and media ramp up war fever.

[Ed.  Here is the later part of this long article, which first details the history of other criminal wars, and the background to Russia’s understandable fear of Western aggression.  I urge you to read the entire article, – while this bit examines only the current Ukraine situation]

Supporting this God-given path are not only big-biz executives, financiers, and military brass, but also a subservient media, obedient politicians aiming at highly-paid jobs when they leave politics, a number of labor leaders, and power holders in academia. They all form the Establishment, one quite similar in all so-called free and free market democracies, except that for over 80 years the U.S, sector has asserted its role in the pack as alpha wolf.

A Criminal War Ushers in the Worst of Times in Ukraine, Russia, and Europe

My overriding hope is that current talks may lead to peace, to an end of death and destruction, and to the repair and renewal of all efforts to build a world without exploitation, without aggrandizement, without aggression, without war.

Portside, March 12, 2022 Victor Grossman ”…………………………………………….Every single wartime death or wound is terrible; every missile, every bullet is unnatural. There are too many similar tragedies now in Ukraine. Yet, while writing this, I find myself thinking: Despite each and every tragedy—thank goodness that Ukraine has not been hit like Iraq in 2003, with the death of hundreds of thousands. Yet alas, while I see the Brandenburg Gate lit up with Ukrainian blue and yellow, I recall no Iraqi colors there in 2003, nor those of Palestinians in 2014 after the death of 547 children during the bombing of Gaza.

In the years that followed, as military campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere mired down or lost, symbols, slogans, and catchwords about terror wore thin, the fearfulness of words like Islamism, communism, and socialism eroded, like Bolshevism and anarchism in earlier eras. The gargoyle faces, the grayed grimaces of Reagan’s Evil Empire warnings in 1983 needed replacement, for the pressures remained. Putin’s angular face and physique often have to suffice—or is the yellow peril back in play? And what are those pressures, refurbished but still very real?

Some are easy to call by name: Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman, Raytheon, friendly German rivals like Rheinmetall, Krupp, Maffei—and a further limited list. They earn their billions by producing and selling their products, which must constantly be multiplied, replaced—or used.

Thus, while military actions by Putin or any others may be treated by such folk with loud cries of condemnation or sympathy for the victims, behind their dampened Kleenex hankies we can sense their jubilation as military budgets soar, now nearly $780 billion a year in Washington, and the German government, previously tugged one way by traders with Russia or China, now being overwhelmed by the military monopolies, ambitious expansionists, and devoted Pentagon friends who, since the march into Ukraine, have gained the upper hand.

The military budget in Berlin now aims at topping the 50-billion-euro level, with ever more spending for jets, frigates, armed drones, and more personal armor as well; after all, those patriotic lads or lasses in uniform must not be neglected, but always sent well-armored to their deaths.

And how many have the courage to disapprove of all of this? To vote against it, in the Capitol or the Bundestag? Only a very, very few, now angrily disqualified or ignored.

Not only manufacturers of armaments are waving blue-yellow flags with one hand and concealing profit calculations with the other. If their real hopes come true, if Putin’s move goes awry and ends up with a regime change in Red Square, as in Maidan Square in 2014 but far bigger, what new opportunities would be opened up!

….…….   Many are surely dreaming of wide new Eurasian monoculture, of unlimited raw materials, new markets, skilled proletarians. Tyson and Cargill, Bayer and BASF, GM and Daimler, Nestlé and Unilever, Murdock and Springer, Facebook and Amazon must certainly be checking electronic atlases for maps reaching from Smolensk to Vladivostok—and across the Amur River, too, where great multitudes could then be reached so much more easily.

What this all adds up to is a continuing hope for world hegemony—always with God’s help of course.  Sen. Mitt Romney, once a candidate for the presidency, put it clearly:

God did not create this country to be a nation of followers. America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world, or someone else will. Without American leadership, without clarity of American purpose and resolve, the world becomes a far more dangerous place, and liberty and prosperity would surely be among the first casualties.”

Supporting this God-given path are not only big-biz executives, financiers, and military brass, but also a subservient media, obedient politicians aiming at highly-paid jobs when they leave politics, a number of labor leaders, and power holders in academia. They all form the Establishment, one quite similar in all so-called free and free market democracies, except that for over 80 years the U.S, sector has asserted its role in the pack as alpha wolf.

Countries to be “taken out”

In a broadcast with Amy Goodman on March 2, 2007 one vector of a world-wide program was revealed by Gen. Wesley Clark: a memo by then-Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz which described “how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and finishing off with Iran.”

The timetable didn’t work out exactly—timetables often don’t—but was close enough. And if Iran could really be tamed once again, as in 1952, Georgia would then be close. And Russia as well.

Another vector was even more crucial. When East German annexation was agreed upon in 1990, Soviet army withdrawal was matched by the American and West German verbal promise to a very trustful Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would never expand past the Elbe River into East Germany or beyond.

The promise was soon broken. The Pentagon-based NATO moved with its military technology into East Germany and on to Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Balkans, the Baltic countries, thus surrounding all but the southern flank of European Russia with an increasingly tight, hostile ring, featuring broadened, strengthened highways and rail lines pointing eastwards, potential missile launchers in Poland, swift jet planes, fueled and polished, in German and Belgian hangars, with nuclear bombs waiting nearby, and annual aggressive military maneuvers along Russian borders. NATO was spending $111 billion on armaments, Russia $62 billion.

And then north and south were linked. In 2013, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, no angel, faced a choice between the unsteady but undeniable advantages of economic cooperation with Russia, his country’s main energy supplier, or biting at the bait of promised Western prosperity, with all the luxuries it symbolized for many Ukrainians, especially in its western regions.

The American leadership, thinking no doubt of fat dividends but far more about closing that tight ring, or noose, around Russia and gaining control of Sevastopol, the big naval base on the Black Sea, Russian till then, by contract, decided to move ahead. After spending $5 billion or more on propaganda and organizing anti-Russian groups and parties, it re-animated its earlier “Orange Revolution.” Joining with openly pro-fascist groups—complete with swastikas, “Heil Hitler!” salutes, and all—it managed the ouster of the elected president, who had to flee to safety. In a famous decision, revealed in a hacked telephone call between the U.S. ambassador in Kiev and Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State, the American puppet Arseniy Yatsenyuk, referred to endearingly as “Yats” by Nuland, was installed by her as prime minister.

Leadership positions in Ukraine have changed several times since then, as the influence of varying oligarchs altered. Some things remained constant. Russian speakers were discriminated against and suppressed, resulting in the vote of a great majority in Crimea to become part of Russia once again—as they had been until 1954. Two Russian-speaking eastern provinces defied the anti-Russian pressures and broke away, with Moscow support. Armed Ukrainian militia units, some with openly pro-fascist symbols on their uniforms or skins, kept battering against them

Perhaps it was their strength which prevented the Kiev government from abiding by the peace agreements of Minsk, in which Paris, Berlin, Moscow, and Kiev had agreed on seeking solutions, with partial autonomy for the Russian-speaking provinces, or was it pressure from Washington and local oligarchs which moved the current president, Volodymyr Zelensky, at first seemingly in favor of negotiations, to back out?

Since that goal of world hegemony in many wealthy American brains, Republican and Democratic alike, was never abandoned, and only Russia and China stood in the way, Ukraine was clearly being built up as a counterforce against one such barrier, indeed as a ramp for further action. Which leads us to 2022.

Putin clearly disapproved of any ramps close to his borders. He hardly needed to leaf in the history books for the years 1812, or 1918-21, or 1941-45 to strengthen his resolve. With the increasing threat from an enlarged, aggressive NATO, he could not possibly ignore a Ukraine eagerly pushing to join up as soon as possible, after it had already joined in NATO wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan. All the offers Russia made to negotiate the issues—above all a bar to Ukraine officially joining NATO—were rejected in the West as “non-starters” and accompanied by further waves of recriminations and new sanctions.

Was this extreme hostility by media and politicians, with its implied threats (and its actual incidents, as in Syria), the reason for Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine? Despite TV hours and piles of paper and ink expounding about it, I see absolutely no basis for warnings that Putin has plans to “expand his empire.” I have not seen a single word threatening Finland, Poland, Romania, or the Baltic trio, which are often loudest in exhortations. And Germany? The idea of Russia attacking Germany is fully unthinkable—though not enough to hinder big armament expansion plans in Berlin.

In the past, Russia was systematically threatened and also attacked—and is surrounded by a world with over 750 American military bases, with an American military budget bigger than the next ten countries combined, and with four times as many NATO soldiers as Russians in uniform. Even when Russia deployed troops outside its borders, bitter as these occasions were, they were only in countries which were on its borders, and hence—if under unfriendly control—were viewed as potential threats as much as Russian or Chinese deployments in Mexico or Canada would be viewed in the U.S. Ukraine definitely borders Russia—its heartland. Militarily, the USSR and Russia were always basically on the defensive, not on an offensive track.

And yet its soldiers, tanks, and planes have invaded Ukraine, with results just as horrible for those affected, even if not on the same scale, as American attacks in the Philippines and Vietnam, Nicaragua, and Iraq—or in two of the worst crimes ever committed by humankind—at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We cannot look into Putin’s mind, nor know of possible threats he seems to have considered immediate. We must strictly reject any nonsense disputing the will of most Ukrainians to remain independent and sovereign—though not to become part of a NATO-led threat.

Why this war now?……………….

The invasion, for whatever reason, has not only caused great misery in Ukraine, but also given an immense steroid push to the forces on the political right, the traditional Russia-haters, those thinking constantly of protecting and increasing their fortunes and those who want no peace, but only victory, any victory, over Russia. They want to demolish not only the reign of Putin but Russia in general as a barrier to capitalist expansion, to a hegemony ruled from Washington, Wall Street, and the Pentagon.

It is these people who are demanding no-fly zones. Some 27 former Pentagon and State Department officials and a former top NATO military commander joined Zelensky in calling for a no-fly zone, although they know full well what that means. As even Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida said of the demand: “It means starting World War III.”

On the other hand, the march into Ukraine has caused saddening collateral damage, another likely season with the splintering and weakening of progressive forces who work for peace and whose growth is becoming almost desperately necessary in the face of a growing fascistic menace around the world…………   https://portside.org/2022-03-12/criminal-war-ushers-worst-times-ukraine-russia-and-europe

March 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ukrainians will pay the price in suffering for long drawn-out USA’s proxy war on behalf of wealthy corporations

Zelensky hasn’t abandoned his pre-invasion intransigence. He has entrenched, calling for Ukraine to be armed with nuclear missiles and for NATO to either impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine or give Ukraine the planes to enforce such a zone itself.

That Zelensky wants NATO to bail him out, especially after NATO was responsible for enticing him into the current confrontation with Russia, is hardly surprising. But the degree to which the Western media have pushed Zelensky’s line means a strong majority of the U.S. public now favor Kiev’s course of action, even though it would likely trigger a World War III between nuclear powers.

 The West’s Hands in Ukraine as Bloody as Putin’s,   Consortium News, By Jonathan Cook, March 11, 2022  ”…………………………………………. NATO Insurance Policy

Even a cursory glance shows that the West’s hands are not clean in Ukraine. Not at all. The meddling – and hypocrisy – have occurred in two stages, first from politicians and then from the media.

It was the choices made by Western politicians that provoked the invasion. (What’s coming next is an explanation, not a justification, of those developments, for those who need such things spelled out clearly).

Russian troops are in Ukraine not because Putin is “Hitler,” “mad,” or a “megalomaniac” – though, again, the invasion makes him a war criminal in the same mold as Tony Blair and George W. Bush. Russian troops are there because he and his officials judged the West to be acting malevolently and in bad faith in their dealings with Ukraine.

The Putin as “madman” or “Hitler” script deflects attention away from the very obvious fact that Western leaders willfully played fast and loose with the security of Ukraine and the safety of its population.

The West encouraged Ukrainians to believe that they would soon fall under NATO’s security umbrella, when in fact the West had no intention of protecting them, as is now only too evident. Ukrainians were led to believe that the more Russia’s posture turned belligerent towards Ukraine the more likely NATO would be to come to Ukraine’s rescue and act as its savior.

Which, of course, incentivized the Ukrainian government to keep poking the Russian bear in the expectation that Kiev would have a NATO insurance policy up its sleeve. It didn’t. It never did, as current events show

The reason Boris Johnson lost no time in rebuffing the emotional pressure levied by a Ukrainian journalist at a recent press conference to impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine is that even he understands that such a policy would be suicidal against a nuclear power like Russia. Shooting down Russian jets would likely plunge us into a rerun of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962.

But on the back of NATO’s deception, recent Ukrainian leaders confidently fomented ethnic nationalism at home and thereby themselves played a dangerous game of chicken with their superpower neighbor.

That included coddling anti-Russian fascists at home and stoking a related civil war in the Donbass region by its ultra-nationalist allies against the Russian ethnic community living there as a way to drag NATO directly into the conflict.

For those who accuse anyone who points out the long-running influence of ultra-nationalist groups in Ukraine of being Putin trolls, this 2017 video from The Guardian – a newspaper now reflexively dismissive of all criticism of Ukraine – showing a neo-Nazi summer camp for Ukrainian children, may make for uncomfortable viewing. The Azov Brigade fascists running it, as well as other like-minded groups, have been effortlessly incorporated into the Ukrainian military the West is arming.

Zelensky hasn’t abandoned his pre-invasion intransigence. He has entrenched, calling for Ukraine to be armed with nuclear missiles and for NATO to either impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine or give Ukraine the planes to enforce such a zone itself.

That Zelensky wants NATO to bail him out, especially after NATO was responsible for enticing him into the current confrontation with Russia, is hardly surprising. But the degree to which the Western media have pushed Zelensky’s line means a strong majority of the U.S. public now favor Kiev’s course of action, even though it would likely trigger a World War III between nuclear powers.

Suicidal Narrative

How in thrall Westerners are to this media-confected, suicidal narrative can be gauged by the number of armchair warriors in the West accusing anyone taking a more cautious approach of not only being Putin apologists but of denying the Ukrainian people their “sovereign right” to join NATO and come under its protection.

But NATO membership isn’t a sovereign right. And it shouldn’t be viewed as some kind of glorified neighborhood-watch scheme. NATO is a military club. States qualify to join if the other members agree they want to commit to protecting that state.

Russia would have had no grounds – or pretexts, depending on how you wish to look at it – to invade. The media’s “madman” and “Hitler” scripts are needed now to turn reality on its head, suggesting that Putin would have invaded whatever actions NATO and Ukraine took.

But if that is not true – and there is no evidence it is – then the blood of the victims of this war is most certainly on the West’s hands, just as it is in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Gaza, Yemen and elsewhere.

Media Hypocrisy

The second hypocrisy is the current one being peddled by the Western media. They want to flaunt a bogus moral concern about the suffering of Ukrainians under attack from Russia that they never show towards the victims of Western bombs and missiles.

Terrible as the suffering of Ukrainians is, two weeks into the invasion, it is still a pale shadow of the decades of suffering of Palestinians in Gaza or of Yemenis under Saudi planes and bombs supplied by the West. The prioritization of one over the other needs explaining.

Social media warriors – much less sophisticated than the corporate media – readily rationalize this lack of interest in the West’s victims by dismissing them as “terrorists” or by blaming them for living under “terrorist regimes,” or by simply insisting that they are further removed from us, as though Britons and Americans somehow feel more of a natural affinity with Ukrainians than with Syrians or Palestinians, or with Russians. (We don’t unless the corporate media keeps insisting such a bond exists.)

If that tactic fails, it is on to the next one, arguing that any effort to point out the utter hypocrisy of the Western media and its entirely hollow concern for Ukrainians – rather than for Ukraine, as a pawn on the West’s colonial chessboard – is so-called “whataboutery.”

It is bad enough that such reasoning is rooted in a profound racism that counts white Europeans as worthy victims and brown or Black victims as “collateral damage” of supposed Western peace-making.

But actually, the rot runs far deeper. It is not just racism at work in the special treatment of Ukraine’s suffering over that of Iraqis or Yemenis or Palestinians. That could be solved through education and awareness-raising.

No, the Western media’s identification with Ukraine – and consequently the public’s identification with its plight – is based on Ukraine’s usefulness to the Western imperial project. Which is exactly what got us into this mess in the first place.

Vicious Musical Chairs

In truth, a straight line runs between the West’s treatment of Iraq and its treatment of Ukraine.

In Iraq, the U.S. and its allies sought to reorder the chessboard by intensifying their grip over oil as Western capitalism began running up against ever-depleting stores of cheap and easily accessible fossil fuels and the climate emergency made capitalism’s endless profit-making model ever more precarious.

But though the chess analogy for Western foreign policymaking dates back to at least the 19th century, it may now be inadequate to explain what we have seen taking place over the past couple of decades.

More accurately, Washington’s planners see the world largely in terms of a high-stakes version of the children’s party game, musical chairs. As the chairs disappear, it is ever more important to make sure you, rather than your enemies, grab the last seats.

The main enemies on the global stage – if you sit in Washington – are Russia and China. The tools you need at your disposal are not just wits, as in chess, but muscle, as in a very adult, survival-of-the-fittest version of musical chairs.

That has required the U.S. and its allies to ever more aggressively isolate Russia and China, trying to sow divisions, and make each feel threatened and isolated. Which, as Moscow and Beijing more clearly understand Washington’s strategy, has driven these two unlikely partners into each other’s arms.

The rest of us have to decide which of the biggest children we want to ally with as the chairs keep disappearing and the game gets ever more vicious.

Proxy War of Attrition

Back in Ukraine, meanwhile, the U.S. and its NATO allies appear to be doing what they can to drag out the war for as long as possible.

Russia appeared initially to want a relatively short war of attrition to pacify Ukraine, forcing its nationalist government to drop aspirations to become a launch-pad for NATO weapons and impose on it instead neutrality. (Now that Russia has committed treasure and lives to the war, it will likely get greedier and want more. Reports suggest it is already demanding independence rather than autonomy for the Donbass region.)

Of course, the conclusion even Westerners would draw, if we weren’t so propagandized by the media, is that neutrality for Ukraine is inevitable – unless we are willing to risk the alternative of a World War III. Any delay in achieving neutrality for Ukraine as an outcome simply causes unnecessary death and suffering.

The U.S., by contrast, wants a long, proxy war of attrition, openly and covertly supplying Ukrainian forces – indifferent as to whether they are “nice ones” or neo-Nazis – to bog Russia down in years of difficult guerrilla warfare and counter-insurgency. The bloodshed will feed the hostility (and unthinking racism) of Western publics towards Russia and Russians, providing the pretext for Washington to sustain the West’s parallel economic war on Russia.

Ukrainians will pay the price as the U.S. tries to wear down Russia, just as Syrians, Libyans, Iranians, Yemenis, Venezuelans and Palestinians have paid the price as the U.S. has sought elsewhere to attain the goals of its globe-spanning imperial project.

Washington understands that a weakened Russia might not have been able to save Bashar Assad’s government from the takeover of Syria by the West’s Islamic State and Al-Qaeda allies there. And in the future, it is hoped, Moscow will be in no position to support others who resist Western hegemony, especially the “pariah” states of Venezuela, Iran and China.

It is a huge ambition for a tiny elite headquartered in the U.S. committed to the endless enrichment of itself by enforcing a binary thinking among Western publics that obscures the real reasons for the planet-wide crises we face.

If it succeeds, the West’s war machine will continue trundling over the bodies of the poor and marginalized as it drives us ever faster towards ecological collapse.

Jonathan Cook is a former Guardian journalist (1994-2001) and winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalismhttps://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/11/the-wests-hands-in-ukraine-as-bloody-as-putins/

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Radiation still hitting flora, fauna in forests in Fukushima

Radiation levels in mountain forests in Fukushima Prefecture remain relatively high compared with residential areas that have undergone decontamination work. The photo was taken in Namie in the prefecture in December. (Keitaro Fukuchi)

March 11, 2022

SENDAI—On a chilly night in early February, Masatoshi Suzuki hauled a black plastic bag containing four macaque carcasses into his lab at Tohoku University.

The monkeys were killed as agricultural pests, but for researchers like Suzuki, the animals are invaluable specimens to determine the effects of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Nearly 11 years after the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, questions remain over the extent of damage to animals and plants caused by the radioactive substances released in the accident.

Suzuki, who specializes in radiobiology, hopes his studies will provide clues on the possible impact of the radiation on humans.

He and his colleagues have studied 709 macaques in Fukushima Prefecture since 2012. Of all the wild species available for study in the contaminated areas, macaques are most similar to humans.

Masatoshi Suzuki, a researcher of radiobiology, at his lab at Tohoku University in Sendai on Feb. 8 (Keitaro Fukuchi)

The four dead macaques were given to Suzuki by farmers who destroyed the animals several hours earlier in Namie, a town that lies about 4 kilometers from the crippled nuclear plant. Parts of Namie are still off-limit due to high radiation levels.

Other primates used in the studies have come from off-limit areas in Minami-Soma, a city north of the nuclear plant, and elsewhere in the prefecture.

The researchers dissect the carcasses to determine if the livers, lungs, thyroid glands and muscle tissues were affected by radiation from the nuclear accident.

Deformations in plant lice and fir trees have been reported since the nuclear disaster started.

But Suzuki said he has seen no credible reports of such physical abnormalities in wild animals, including macaques, as well as domestic livestock.

However, damage might be occurring at the cellular level in the animals.

Background radiation levels in most of the mountain forests in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures are higher than those in residential areas, which have undergone decontamination procedures.

In the nature-filled areas that have not been decontaminated, macaques continue to be exposed to radioactive materials while feeding on polluted fruits and other food sources.

According to Suzuki’s studies, the muscles showed the highest concentration of radioactive cesium among all of the macaques’ organs.

The average radioactivity level in the thigh muscles was about 40,000 becquerels per macaque captured in Namie in fiscal 2013.

In fiscal 2018, the figure was down to about 20,000 becquerels per macaque.

The researchers found that macaques exposed to higher radiation doses had slightly fewer blood-producing cells in bone marrow compared with the animals with lower exposure readings. The nuclear accident may have compromised some macaques’ ability to make blood.

The researchers used the density of radioactive cesium in the macaques’ muscles and in soil at areas where they were captured to calculate the level of radiation doses the animals were exposed to both internally and externally.

Suzuki also said they detected chromosomal abnormalities resulting from radiation damage to genes.

He said radiation exposure can increase the stress level in one organ, but the same dose could have the opposite effect in a different organ. One possible reason for this is that the animal’s defense system was galvanized to curb stress levels following exposure.

Suzuki emphasized the need to continue monitoring macaques and other animals to determine the impact from prolonged radiation exposure.

“So far, we have discovered no significant health hazards in the individual macaques studied,” he said. “But they continue to display changes in their cells and organs, albeit minor ones. We do not know what these changes will translate into in the long run.”

CESIUM PASSED THROUGH FOOD CHAIN

A study by other scientists showed that radioactive cesium from the nuclear accident could be traveling through food chains in the environment.

“If we can track down the movement of radioactive cesium in the food chain, the findings would show us its cycling mechanism in the ecosystem,” said Sota Tanaka, a researcher of radioecology at Akita Prefectural University.

He believes that studying the cycling mechanism of cesium will help to predict its long-term movement and lead to improved use of resources in mountain forests and the rebuilding of agriculture in contaminated areas.

Joint research by Tanaka and Taro Adachi, professor of applied entomology at the Tokyo University of Agriculture, found that radioactivity levels have decreased year after year in rice-field grasshoppers in Iitate, a village west of the stricken nuclear plant that still has some off-limit areas.

In 2016, all of the grasshoppers monitored had radioactivity readings below 100 becquerels per kilogram.

But garden web spiders in Iitate showed a wide range of readings from one year to the next. Their radioactivity levels were actually higher in 2015 than in 2014.

In 2016, one spider had a reading of more than 300 becquerels per kilogram.

Radioactive cesium remains on the ground even after rainfalls.

Plants rarely absorb cesium through their roots, but can become contaminated by falling cesium particles. And the researchers believe the cesium levels in grasshoppers have dropped steadily because they feed on the leaves of living plants.

As for the spiders, they are eating bugs that have high cesium levels because they feed on contaminated dead leaves mixed with contaminated soil, according to Tanaka.

That may be why the eight-legged predators are showing higher radioactivity readings than the grasshoppers, he said.

Their study also found that earthworms had radioactivity levels higher than those for the grasshoppers and spiders, likely because they are eating contaminated soil and withered leaves.

https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14567194?fbclid=IwAR0sgko2lq2dlSUS-Qtzo3-7-hv1JvrLScAZ1TUEAofs5gKPvkQZOX53E4Q

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan to finish radioactive soil transfer to interim storage site

“Finished” is only government propaganda, reality differs!
With radioactive waste being kept “temporarily” at 830 locations in six municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, stuck in limbo with no early prospect of being shipped to interim storage facilities ahead of a government-set deadline. The volume of contaminated soil and other radioactive materials awaiting shipment totals 8,460 cubic meters.

The interim storage site for radioactive waste and the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant

Mar 13, 2022

Fukushima – The government is set to complete by March 31 work on transferring radioactive soil collected from areas polluted by the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture to an interim storage facility as part of the decontamination effort.

The facility, straddling the Fukushima towns of Futaba and Okuma, surrounds Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the site of the triple meltdown that followed a massive earthquake and tsunami 11 years ago.

Under the law, such soil will be transferred to a permanent disposal site outside the prefecture by 2045. The final site has yet to be decided, however.

Since the amount of soil is massive, the Environment Ministry is planning to use some of it for public works and other projects across the country.

“We’ll reach a major juncture” by completing the transfer, a senior ministry official said. “From now on, we’d like to foster people’s understanding on the reuse (of the soil).”

The 1,600-hectare interim storage site, about the same size as Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, is slated to hold about 14 million cubic meters of soil collected through decontamination work.

Since 2015, such soil collected from around Fukushima has been taken to the site after being stored at temporary storage facilities.

Over 1,800 local landowners, including residents of the towns, cooperated with the central government to secure land to establish the storage facility, mainly by selling their properties to the state.

Many landowners “made tough decisions to give up their properties for the sake of reconstruction,” Okuma Mayor Jun Yoshida said. “Many were my acquaintances, including friends from school, the person who arranged my marriage and workers at the town office,” Yoshida added.

The ministry plans to use only soil with relatively low levels of radioactive concentrations for public works, farmland and other purposes. It hopes that three-fourths of the total will be reused.

A demonstration project to grow flowers and vegetables on farmland using such soil has already started in the Nagadoro district in the Fukushima village of Iitate.

Meanwhile, projects to utilize the soil for road construction have been scrapped due to opposition from local residents in the cities of Nihonmatsu and Minamisoma, both in Fukushima Prefecture.

In May last year, the ministry started holding meetings to discuss the recycling of such soil with the general public to win wider understanding. Such events took place in Tokyo and the city of Nagoya.

The next session is scheduled to be held in the city of Fukuoka this month.

Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa stressed that electricity generated by the Fukushima No. 1 plant had been consumed in the greater Tokyo area. Reuse of soil collected through decontamination work “will not proceed unless people who benefited (from the Fukushima plant) understand that fact,” he said.

“It is difficult for people living far from Fukushima to empathize” with those having to deal with tainted soil, said Hiroshi Kainuma, associate professor at the University of Tokyo’s Graduate School of Interdisciplinary Information Studies.

Kainuma said the government should proceed while checking constantly whether its communication with the public on the issue is appropriate.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/03/13/national/japan-finish-radioactive-soil-transfer-interim-storage-site/

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Fate of Fukushima reactor cleanup uncertain after 11 years

Men in hazmat suits work inside a facility with equipment to remove radioactive materials from contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, in Okuma town, northeastern Japan, on March 3.

March 13, 2022

OKUMA, Japan—Eleven years after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was ravaged by a meltdown following a massive earthquake and tsunami, the plant now looks like a sprawling construction site. Most of the radioactive debris blasted by the hydrogen explosions has been cleared and the torn buildings have been fixed.

During a recent visit by journalists from The Associated Press to see firsthand the cleanup of one of the world’s worst nuclear meltdowns, helmeted men wore regular work clothes and surgical masks, instead of previously required hazmat coveralls and full-face masks, as they dug near a recently reinforced oceanside seawall.

Workers were preparing for the planned construction of an Olympic pool-sized shaft for use in a highly controversial plan set to begin in the spring of 2023 to gradually get rid of treated radioactive water—now exceeding 1.3 million tons stored in 1,000 tanks—so officials can make room for other facilities needed for the plant‘s decommissioning.

Despite the progress, massive amounts of radioactive melted fuel remain inside of the reactors. There‘s worry about the fuel because so much about its condition is still unknown, even to officials in charge of the cleanup.

Nearly 900 tons of melted nuclear fuel remain inside the three damaged reactors, and its removal is an unprecedented challenge involving 10 times the amount of damaged fuel removed in the Three Mile Island cleanup following its 1979 partial core melt.

The government has set a decommissioning roadmap aiming for completion in 29 years.

The challenge of removing melted fuel from the reactors is so daunting that some experts now say that setting a completion target is impossible, especially as officials still don‘t have any idea about where to store the waste.

Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said recently that extra time would be needed to determine where and how the highly radioactive waste removed from the reactors should be stored.

Japan has no final storage plans even for the highly radioactive waste that comes out of normal reactors.

Twenty-four of the country‘s 60 reactors are designated for decommissioning, mostly because of the high cost needed to meet safety standards set up in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake caused a tsunami 17 meters (56 feet) high that slammed into the coastal plant, destroying its power supply and cooling systems, causing reactors No. 1, 2 and 3 to melt and spewing massive amounts of radiation.

Three other reactors were offline and survived, though a fourth building suffered hydrogen explosions.

The spreading radiation caused some 160,000 residents to evacuate. Parts of the surrounding neighborhood are still uninhabitable.

The melted cores in Units 1, 2 and 3 largely fell to the bottom of their primary containment vessels, together with control rods and other equipment, some possibly penetrating or mixing with the concrete foundation, making the cleanup extremely difficult.

Probes of the melted fuel must rely on remote-controlled robots carrying equipment such as cameras and dosimeters—which measure radiation—because radiation levels in those areas are still fatally high for humans.

In February, a remote-operated submersible robot entered the Unit 1 primary containment vessel, its first internal probe since a failed 2017 attempt. It captured limited images of what are believed to be mounds of melted fuel rising from the concrete floor.

Probes have moved ahead at Unit 2, where Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) plans to send in an extendable robotic arm later this year to collect melted fuel samples.

Tepco Chief Decommissioning Officer Akira Ono said in a recent online interview that robotic probes at Unit 1 and 2 this year are a major “step forward” in the decades-long cleanup. 

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima Workers Tell The Harrowing Story Of How They Tamed One Of The World’s Worst Nuclear Disasters

When the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant overheated in March 2011, these heroic workers stepped in. To this day, most people are unaware of their achievements.

03/12/2022

This story, by Fukushima Central Television, Co., Ltd., was published in partnership with HuffPost Japan and is translated from the original Japanese footage.

In 2011, three nuclear reactors melted down, provoking a series of hydrogen explosions and resulting in the world’s most severe nuclear accident. It happened in Japan, which had been long celebrated as a technology powerhouse.

At the time of the accident, the site became a veritable death trap, with extremely high levels of radioactivity and chunks of concrete from the explosion raining down on workers. And yet, there were some who remained on the ground to try and bring the overheating nuclear power plant to a halt.

“I just couldn’t run away when my country was about to sink,” one of the workers said. If this story can be told at all, it is precisely thanks to those who faced one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters out of a sense of pride in their country’s technology, attachment to the community and loyalty to their jobs.

The magnitude 9 Great East Japan Earthquake struck at 2:46 p.m. local time on March 11, 2011. Soon after, a large tsunami hit the ground level of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which consisted of six nuclear reactors.

Satoru Umematsu, a veteran electrical engineer who had taken part in building the ground floor, was there when it happened. Umematsu was 60 at the time, and fast approaching retirement age.

When the nuclear power plant’s power transmission tower was knocked down by the force of the earthquake, causing the loss of external power supply, emergency generators kicked in, ensuring that cooling pumps could continue to function.

When the tsunami struck, however, the emergency generators of reactors 1 through 4, located about 33 feet (10 meters) above sea level, were flooded and stopped working.

When Umematsu rushed to the plant’s earthquake-proof building, about 115 feet (35 meters) above sea level, where the emergency response room was set up, it was packed with people. Inside, ashen-faced power plant executives were bustling around in a frenzy.

A Strategy Forms

As Umematsu and the others realized that the reactors could no longer be cooled down, they moved to secure a vehicle-mounted generator and power cables in order to generate electricity and restore the power supply.

“It was unimaginable that a nuclear power plant would lose all power. So, when it did actually happen, we were overcome by a tremendous sense of urgency,” he said.

For Umematsu, who had experienced all kinds of situations at different job sites in the course of his career, this crisis was an absolute first.

After graduating from junior high school and acquiring engineering skills at a vocational training center, Umematsu had accumulated over 40 years of experience in electrical construction sites, including power generation dams and nuclear power plants. He was familiar with most electrical systems in nuclear power plants. He was proud of the technological capabilities Japan had acquired after World War II and would proudly tell his relatives of his work at the nuclear power plant. He was relied upon by subordinates and colleagues, who respectfully referred to him as “Ume-san.”

Satoru Umematsu belonged to an electric construction group, affiliated company of TEPCO.
Satoru Umematsu belonged to an electric construction group, affiliated company of TEPCO.

In order to complete their task in the shortest possible time, Umematsu and his crew devised a simple strategy. To restore the power supply, they would park the vehicle-mounted generator next to the reactor building and link it to the nuclear power plant by connecting the power cables.

Opening A Path For The Truck-Mounted Generator

However, even the task of moving the truck-mounted generator closer to the reactor building was a daunting one. All kinds of debris and rubble brought by the tsunami littered the area around the reactor building, obstructing the passage of vehicles.

It wasn’t the power plant staff, the Self-Defense Forces, the fire department, nor the police who tackled this problem — it was a local resident.

Yoshishige Tochimoto was the managing director of a local company with about 10 employees. He was 51 at the time. When the earthquake struck, he witnessed the destruction of the nuclear power plant’s critical equipment.

Yoshishige Tochimoto.

“When the power transmission tower on the slope was brought down by the earthquake, it generated huge sparks. They were pink in color. Between 10 to 20 meters in length,” he said.

Situation of damage caused by the tsunami (Photo: TEPCO)

Tochimoto was on the premises as a subcontractor, doing seismic retrofitting work on the nuclear power plant. As he felt the ground shaking, he said he was unable to stand on his feet.

His own car was washed away by the tsunami that followed the earthquake. Luckily, his company’s excavator had suffered virtually no damage and only the caterpillar tracks had been submerged.

Wary of being exposed to radiation, Tochimoto had not actively sought out nuclear-related work in the past. But now he accidentally found himself on the scene of a nuclear disaster.

“This could be really bad, I thought,” he said.

‘I Won’t Be Gone For Long’

Workers from Tochimoto’s business and other local companies assembled in the parking lot in front of the earthquake-proof building.

They took a roll call to ensure everyone was safe. Then, the prime contractor company instructed them to “disband,” as it was feared that some of the workers would have lost some family members, or their homes would have been damaged. Tochimoto remembered what the other workers were talking about at the time.

“There was talk of opening a vent hole to prevent a hydrogen explosion,” he said.

A hydrogen explosion. He was unfamiliar with that word. The matter, however, seemed completely unrelated to him.

Exhaust tower of Units 1 and 2 (Photo: TEPCO)

Worried about his wife and children, he decided to go back to his home, approximately 8 miles (13 kilometers) away. Since his car at the nuclear power plant had been washed away by the tsunami, he asked an acquaintance for a ride home.

What would normally be a 30-minute ride ended up taking them two hours, as the road was heavily congested with people evacuating. After getting home and making sure that everyone in his family was safe, he got a call from the prime contractor company.

“Will you help us fix the nuclear power plant?”

Land side of the reactor building (Photo: TEPCO)

The roads inside the nuclear power plant were impassable by vehicles as they were covered in rubble and fissures in the asphalt had caused uneven gaps. Tochimoto thought that, if it was only a matter of fixing the road, it would not take long and he would be back home soon.

“I won’t be gone for long,” he told his family as he headed toward the Daiichi power plant. The time was around 7:30 pm.

Restoring Power, Fighting Against Fear

It took until nighttime to prepare the equipment needed to restore power. With preparations over, Umematsu gathered some young workers from the power plant and explained to them how to handle the power cables and how to route them.

The cables in question were special high-voltage cables called “Triplex,” which could suffer damage if dragged over the ground. The workers would have to connect the heavy cables, each 1-meter section weighing about 13 pounds (6 kilograms), from the truck-mounted generator parked outside the building to the power panel inside. Due to the building’s complex structure, they would have to lay the cable over a distance of about 130 meters. Many of the team’s members had no previous experience in handling that kind of equipment.

“As graduates of Japan’s most prestigious universities, they knew the theory, but had never actually connected a high-voltage cable. I was the only one who could tell them how to go about it.”


TEPCO employees recording data in the central control room of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Units 1 and 2 (provided by NISA)

However, at around 11:00 p.m., radiation levels several tens of times higher than usual were detected inside the building of the Unit 1 reactor. The pressure on the steel “containment vessel” enclosing the reactor holding the nuclear fuel was about to exceed the permissible values. The director of the power plant immediately forbade anyone from entering the Unit 1 building. The signs were unmistakable that the feared meltdown had begun.

If the workers did not complete the operation swiftly, they too could have been exposed to lethal doses of radiation. If only the power supply could be restored, the looming crisis could be averted. It was up to Umematsu to make it possible.

“I’m pretty sure we were all scared. Extremely scared,” he said. “But being scared is different from being hesitant. Some were actually hesitant and did not want to go. We were certainly scared. Incredibly scared. After all, we were going to an unknown site. However, while being scared, we behaved normally.”

Unit 2 Central Control Room, which became pitch black due to a power outage (provided by NISA)

Since Umematsu was not a regular power plant employee, normally he would have been advised to go home. Instead, the power plant managers, relying on his skills, asked him to stay. Umematsu could have walked away while he still did not know how much radiation he would be exposed to. Instead, he chose to listen to his heart.

“I knew my skills were about to be put to the test,” he said. “I was glad my know-how could be of help in such a situation. When your country is as likely to stay afloat as it is to sink, you can’t quit just because you’re scared or because radiation levels are high.”

At that point, he still hadn’t been able to contact his wife and children. Nonetheless, as an engineer, he decided to throw himself into the task and went to work near the reactor building.

An Unsung Achievement

The truck-mounted generator, however, was still a long way away from being able to approach the reactor building. The road had yet to be repaired in order to make that possible. Fissures in the road caused height differences as much as a meter high. Tochimoto’s team studied the situation and considered what to do.

A proposal was made to bring in gravel from a nearby quarry to fill in the gaps, but was abandoned because it would have taken too long. Tochimoto thought that, as long as vehicles could pass, anything would do.

When he tried to turn the key to his company’s excavator, the engine came to life. Using the tip of the excavator’s bucket, he began to strip the asphalt coating in the parts of the road where the gaps were. He then proceeded to remove the gravel from under the paved surface and to press the surface down so as to create a gently sloping incline, at which point it looked as if a car might just be able to go through.

Removal of rubble by heavy machinery (Photo: TEPCO)

“While I was trying to open a road with the excavator, most of the people were actually watching me,” he said.

It seems that it was only thanks to Tochimoto and his excavator that the road was fixed. In just three hours, working by himself, he managed to repair the road inside the nuclear power plant so that vehicles could reach the reactor building.

Had Tochimoto not been there, it wouldn’t have been possible for the truck-mounted generator to approach the building to restore power, nor for fire engines to reach the same building and try to cool down the reactor.

To this day, most people are unaware of his achievement.

Because the road was fixed quickly, vehicles were able to reach the area around the reactor building by midnight. In the following hours, Tochimoto joined forces with workers from other companies to remove the rubble scattered around the reactor building.

A week after the accident, when a Hyper Rescue Team from the Tokyo Fire Department entered the area to cool off the fuel, one of its leaders said: “We were utterly surprised to see how the area surrounding the power plant had been cleared of debris to the point that not a single stone was visible, and our vehicles were able to approach without a hitch.”

Situation of rubble scattered by the explosion (provided by the Ministry of Defense)

The Real Risky Work Begins

Around midnight, a movable generator and a truck loaded with high-voltage cables smashed the nuclear protection gate and headed toward the reactor building.

Directing operations was Umematsu, the veteran engineer. He was hoping that, by connecting the movable generator to the power supply point near the Unit 1 reactor building, power could be restored, and the cooling pumps could start functioning once again.

The power cable was laid out near the reactor building, where radiation levels kept rising. The riskiest part of the work was about to begin.

Unit 2 power supply room (photographed by TEPCO)

Their efforts, however, had to be repeatedly interrupted as magnitude 4 and 5 aftershocks followed one after another. After a tsunami of such enormity, it was only natural that the area would have to be evacuated every time a tremor hit. Umematsu was getting impatient.

“We could have restored the power supply in five or six hours. However, we had to stop working and leave every time an aftershock struck, so things hardly moved at all. We went at it all night long, but most of the time we were sitting on our hands,” he said.

Radiation Levels 30,000 Times Higher Than Normal

A few hours have passed. At a press conference at 3 a.m. on March 12, Yukio Edano, chief cabinet secretary at the time, announced that he instructed workers to open a vent to release the pressure accumulated inside the Unit 1 reactor. Unless internal pressure is lowered in the reactor, he explained, the entire steel pressure vessel enclosing the nuclear fuel will explode. If that were to happen, huge amounts of radioactive material would be scattered across the surrounding area.

However, opening the required valve to ventilate the reactor building was an extremely difficult operation. The power plant operators assembled a “suicide squad” that rushed to where the valve was located, but radiation levels were so high that they had to turn back.

Umematsu wearing a mask and white protective clothes in the bus heading to the site.

Around 6 a.m., just outside the building, Umematsu’s crew began full-scale operations to connect the power cable. Umematsu used a phone to report on progress to the emergency response office. As reception was poor, he kept moving around looking for a place where it would be easier to talk.

Without realizing it, he ended up nearby the exhaust tower through which steam exited the vent. At exactly the same time, efforts to open the valve from the outside finally succeeded.

Steam containing huge amounts of radioactive particles instantly rushed out of the exhaust tower, thoroughly irradiating Umematsu. “When I was near the exhaust tower, the dosimeter, which had been unresponsive for a while, suddenly came back to life with a loud BEEEEP. While cursing my luck, I had no choice but to continue working,” he said.

Japanese law sets maximum exposure levels for the general public at less than 1 millisievert per year (approximately 0.0027 millisieverts per day). Umematsu, on the other hand, was exposed to over 80 millisieverts in just one day.

Just As The Cable Was Connected …

The release vent is believed to have been successfully opened around 2:30 p.m. on March 12. Immediately after, efforts to connect the power cables, which had continued throughout the night, came to a successful completion.

It was now simply a matter of turning on the movable generator to restore power. Umematsu’s crew, in order to exchange places with the group that would operate the movable generator, had to leave the area and temporarily adjourn to the emergency response office in the earthquake-proof building.

“I believe it’s the same in power plants everywhere. Before moving on to the next job, you must let everyone know and get permission. You can’t proceed solely on your own judgment,” he said. “I would always let machine operators know that I finished this task, that I performed that check, and so on, then I would clear things with my superior, and only then would I proceed to the next task.”

Rubble was scattered all over due to the hydrogen explosion (Photo: TEPCO)

It all happened exactly at moment Umematsu and his crew arrived at the emergency response office.

“It wasn’t a ‘whump,’ or a ‘thud,’ it was more like a popping sound,” he said.

At 3:36 p.m. on March 12, a hydrogen explosion shook the Unit 1 reactor.

For an unknown reason, the hydrogen that had filled the reactor building suddenly caught on fire and exploded. Concrete chunks from the gutted building flew across the entire area of the nuclear reactor at tremendous speeds.

“Find an empty car!”

Umematsu was shouting at the nearby workers at the top of his lungs. Radioactive rubble and insulation material was falling from the sky. He sensed that he would be exposed to considerable amounts of radiation just by touching it.

Fukushima Central Television

A fire engine happened to be parked nearby. The workers squeezed into the front and back seats one after another. Over 10 people crammed into a space normally meant for six. They kept the door closed for about 10 minutes. Holding their breath, they waited for the pollutants to pass by.

“‘There’s no going back now. The unthinkable has happened,’ I thought to myself. At that point I felt courage sweep over me. If you are on the scene of a Chernobyl-like disaster, it makes no difference anymore whether you’re inside or outside the reactor,” Umematsu said.

The hydrogen explosion shredded the power cables.

The surrounding area was once again littered with rubble. The repair work being carried out at reactors 2 and 3 had to start anew, which led to the following crisis.

The hydrogen explosion in the Unit 1 reactor could have been averted if only power could have been immediately supplied through the cable Umematsu’s crew had connected … The future could have been different. The expression on Umematsu’s face as his thoughts wandered back to those days, betrayed a deep anguish.

“Back then, if someone could have been with me at the site to issue instructions, if someone had said to me, ‘Leave things with me here and get ready to run power through the cables the instant they are connected,’ we could have done it,” he said.

Satoru Umematsu. Fukushima Central Television

“I immensely regret that we all went up to the office, even though the cables had been connected and we were ready to go. Looking back now, I feel we may have been too complacent,” he said.

Umematsu continued to work to connect the power supply into the following day, but from March 14, his radiation exposure had been so high that he was no longer allowed to work on-site. On the 15th, he had to evacuate the area and move outside of the nuclear power plant site.

It was then that, for the first time since the earthquake, he was finally able to talk on the phone to his eldest son.

Umematsu said: “We’re really in a dire situation, but we’re not panicking yet, so don’t worry!”

One week later, Umematsu returned to the Daiichi power plant.

TEPCO Fukushima Central Television

While he was not allowed to work on-site, he could still help out by preparing food and drinks for those working on-site in a contaminated environment.
“If it hadn’t been for them, the emergency wouldn’t be over, you know.”

Stronger Than Fear, An Obligation To Help

At the time of the Unit 1 reactor explosion, Tochimoto, who had been working on repairing the road and removing rubble, was taking a break in the earthquake-proof building.

“‘What the hell is this!’ I thought. It came as a huge shock,” he said.

He waited for a few minutes and when he went outside, concrete and heat-insulating materials were scattered everywhere. Realizing that unless the area was again cleared of debris, vehicles wouldn’t be able to pass, he resumed working next to the reactor building.

“There was definitely radioactivity in the air, but I hadn’t been given a dosimeter so I had no way to tell,” he said.

Fukushima Central Television/Provided by: Ministry of Defense

Around him, some workers were scared of going to the work area, fearing that another explosion might follow. After all, who wouldn’t be afraid of working at a site rife with radiation as chunks of concrete rained down?

As for Tochimoto, however, another thought had begun to take hold in him. “Stronger than fear was the awareness that I had to do something about it. I felt I had to do everything in my power to help with the situation, even more so since I was a local,” he said.

Tochimoto was born and raised in Fukushima’s Futaba district, where the Daiichi power plant is located. Up until the time the nuclear power plant was built, the area was jokingly referred to as “the Fukushima boondocks,” because of how poor it was.

During the off-season for farmers, Tochimoto’s father would go look for work in big cities like Tokyo. In order to make ends meet and put food on the table, that’s what a lot of families had to do. As his father would only come home once a month, and sometimes not even then, Tochimoto says they never really had time together as a family.

After years of working hard away from home, his father learned how to operate a dump truck and eventually established the family’s heavy machinery company.

Fukushima Central Television

In the following years, the building of the nuclear power plant brought jobs and employment to the area, and the Tochimotos had a family life for the first time. They lived a quiet life, and the sight of his father playing with his grandchildren brought a smile to Tochimoto’s face.

“After things calmed down, my dad used to play a lot with his grandchildren. He would give them rides on his machines and play in many different ways with them. They were so cute,” he said.

The daily lives of local families, the foundation for which had been laid by his father’s generation, had prospered and continued to this day. Tochimoto recounted that while he faced extreme danger at the plant, as a local man, these memories were very strong in his mind.

To Leave Or To Go Back To The Nuclear Power Plant?

Tochimoto was once again opening a road through the rubble so vehicles could pass through. Unaware of how radioactive the scattered debris really was, he worked in close proximity to them, removing them one by one with the excavator.

At some point, the power plant’s female employees tried to evacuate from the area by minibus.

“They were already in the bus, but they couldn’t find a driver. When they asked if anybody could drive them, everyone fell quiet. Knowing that someone had to volunteer, I told them I’d do it. I felt I had to help in any way I could,” he said.

Fukushima Central Television/TEPCO

Driving the evacuation bus meant he would have to drive it back to the nuclear power plant so that more people could be evacuated again. Those being evacuated, on the other hand, would not return to the plant. He got at the wheel of the bus carrying the evacuees and headed to a junior high school outside the nuclear power plant premises. The thought of joining the evacuees himself crossed Tochimoto’s mind.

But eventually he made his way back to the nuclear power plant.

“A part of me didn’t want to go back, but there were still people working at the nuclear power plant. I headed back to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant while thinking all the time I really should be heading home,” he said.

A ‘Local Guy’ Fighting Alongside Special Forces

After returning to the nuclear power plant, Tochimoto, in addition to removing rubble, also took part in efforts to secure water to cool the reactor. They would go around the site in search of water accumulated in the facilities and transport it to the fire engine.

The system for directly cooling down the reactor was out of order at the time. They were therefore trying to cool it by connecting the fire hoses to pipes that would directly inject water into the reactor.

Fukushima Central Television/Ministry of Defense

On March 14, the Ground Self-Defense Forces arrived at the site where Tochimoto was working. It was the Central Nuclear Biological Chemical Weapon Defense Unit, which was qualified to deal with chemical weapons, including radioactive materials.

After filling the water truck of the Self-Defense Forces with water from the pressure filter tank near the reactor building, six people, including Colonel Shinji Iwakuma, who led the unit, headed to the Unit 3 Reactor. Tochimoto and his crew were also busy pouring water from the same tank into a sprinkler truck.

“I heard a ‘BOOM!’ I looked up and I saw what resembled a mushroom cloud,” he said.

At 11:01 a.m. on March 14, a hydrogen explosion occurred in the Unit 3 reactor.

Once again, countless chunks of concrete fell down from the sky. The members of the Self-Defense Forces were directly below. Four out of six were seriously injured. One of them was bleeding and had to be urgently transported to a specialized medical center by helicopter due to the risk of internal radiation exposure. Tochimoto immediately jumped into a car and left the scene

Around the reactor building after the hydrogen explosion.
Fukushima Central Television/TEPCO

Tochimoto’s crew, in spite of witnessing two hydrogen explosions, resumed their work of removing the scattered rubble shortly after.

“I was told they were having problems at the power plant, so I was asked to help out. I couldn’t just say no. I thought I had no choice but work together with them. We had to assume we could turn things around,” he said.

Radiation levels within the nuclear power plant suddenly soared, and on the night of the 14th, Tochimoto too was finally ordered to evacuate. “Take it from here,” he said to the power plant staff, handing them the excavator’s key.

In spite of never having been closely associated with the nuclear power plant, he fought at the risk of his life until the very the last minute.

Like Umematsu, Tochimoto would later return to the Daiichi power plant. During the two weeks he was away, he learned how to remotely operate a concrete pump for injecting water into the reactor’s spent fuel pool and remained at the forefront of the efforts to resolve the emergency.

Eleven Years Later, ‘One Step At A Time, I Think Progress Is Being Made’

Following the successive meltdowns and hydrogen explosions, during a brief period of comparative calm, a system for cooling the reactor and the nuclear power plant began to be put in place. While Umematsu and Tochimoto were away, the Self-Defense Forces, the National Police Agency, the Tokyo Fire Department and the power plant’s own response team entered the site and began to work to restore power.

Thanks to them, it was finally possible to bring the overheating nuclear power plant to a halt at the last minute.

The worst-case scenario envisioned by the Japanese government, in which half of Japan would be destroyed and Tokyo itself would become uninhabitable, was thus averted by efforts on all sides.

The power plan at the center of this disaster continues to pose great risks. The nuclear fuel debris resulting from the meltdowns remains underground inside the plant. It is estimated to total about 880 tons and it continues to emit lethal doses of radiation, making it impossible for workers to approach it.

The Japanese government has joined forces with the power plant and Japanese companies like Toshiba, Hitachi and many others to tackle the removal of the debris, a difficult project and the world’s first of this kind. The only way to remove the debris is by remotely operated robots.

Eleven years after the accident, veteran engineer Umematsu returned to the site for an inspection.

He wanted to see once again the scene of the nuclear accident that had shattered Japan’s pride in the technological capabilities that had supported its postwar reconstruction, and which may still yield the opportunity for regaining that pride.

Robots small enough to navigate even the narrowest spaces inside this highly radioactive area were removing the rubble from inside the nuclear power plant piece by piece, while sending back images. All the workers operating the robots were young and are allowed to work only after months of training and simulations.

“Even a single piece of rubble is highly radioactive and dangerous. Even the smallest mistake can cause a huge accident, so we cannot afford to make any mistakes,” an engineer said.

Umematsu stared in silence at the young engineer who had said these words. And standing, for the first time since that day, at the site where he had supervised efforts to restore power, he said: “I really think we gave our very best at that time, and yet we didn’t succeed. Power was not restored. But I don’t think it was all in vain.”

“Oftentimes you must suffer multiple failures in order to attain a single result,” he added. “That’s how you move forward. From the perspective of removing the nuclear debris, I think advances are almost insignificant. And yet, one step at a time, I think progress is being made.”

Even though 11 years have passed since the accident, the removal of fuel debris has yet to start. Nonetheless, Umematsu thinks that “nothing is ever in vain.” And the simple fact that he can say these words is proof that the biggest problems have been overcome.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-disaster-workers_n_62261510e4b012a2628e2128

March 14, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Macron government considering nationalising France’s debt-laden nuclear company EDF

France looking to nationalise debt-laden power company EDF  https://www.power-technology.com/news/france-power-company-edf/ 13 Mar 22

The French Government, which holds an 84% stake in the $30bn energy giant, could retain domestic business but review overseas operations.  The Government of France is reportedly weighing options to nationalise multinational electric utility company Electricite de France (EDF), reported Bloomberg.

Citing people familiar with this, the report said that the French Government is considering the option to reorganise the debt-laden business with a focus on nuclear energy production.

French officials have been carrying out talks with advisers on the option to acquire all the stake from EDF’s small stakeholders and delist the company from the stock exchange, people aware of the development said.

The French Government, which owns 84% of EDF, could retain the ownership of the company’s domestic business but review EDF’s overseas operations, the sources added.

If the idea to nationalise EDF is approved, then the move is expected to take place after the French Presidential election, which is slated to take place later this year.

The Government of France is reportedly weighing options to nationalise multinational electric utility company Electricite de France (EDF), reported Bloomberg.

Citing people familiar with this, the report said that the French Government is considering the option to reorganise the debt-laden business with a focus on nuclear energy production.

French officials have been carrying out talks with advisers on the option to acquire all the stake from EDF’s small stakeholders and delist the company from the stock exchange, people aware of the development said.

The French Government, which owns 84% of EDF, could retain the ownership of the company’s domestic business but review EDF’s overseas operations, the sources added.

If the idea to nationalise EDF is approved, then the move is expected to take place after the French Presidential election, which is slated to take place later this year.

However, a spokesperson for the French finance ministry said that the information is ‘false’ and the government isn’t working on such a project.

Last month, French Government announced it will offer $2.4bn to support EDF, as the group sees a hit to profits due to outages at several of its nuclear plants and the impacts of a government power-price cap.

March 14, 2022 Posted by | France, politics | Leave a comment

The US And Ukraine Have Every Reason To Lie About The War 

The US-centralized empire is censoring and propagandizing as though it is in a hot war with Russia currently. Officially the US and its allies are not at war, but the imperial narrative management machine is behaving as though we are. This makes sense because when two nuclear-armed powers are fighting for dominance and know a direct military confrontation can kill them both, other types of warfare are used instead, including propaganda campaigns and psychological warfare.

For this reason it is necessary to take everything claimed about what happens in Ukraine with a planet-sized grain of salt, whether it’s by Russia, Ukraine, or the US and its allies. Be very skeptical of anything you hear about chemical attacks or any other narrative that can be used to get military firepower moving in a way that it otherwise would not. All parties involved in this conflict have every reason in the world to lie about such things.

The US And Ukraine Have Every Reason To Lie About The War  https://caitlinjohnstone.substack.com/p/the-us-and-ukraine-have-every-reason?s=w

Caitlin JohnstoneThe Washington Post has a new article out titled “Intelligence points to heightened risk of Russian chemical attack in Ukraine, officials say,” and I challenge you to find me any Russian state media with two opening paragraphs that are more brazenly propagandistic and bereft of journalistic ethics than these:

The United States and its allies have intelligence thatRussia may be preparing to use chemical weapons against Ukraine, U.S. and European officials saidFriday, as Moscow sought to invigorate its faltering military offensive through increasingly brutal assaults across multiple Ukrainian cities.

“Security officials and diplomats said the intelligence, which they declined to detail, pointed to possible preparations by Russia for deploying chemical munitions, and warned the Kremlin may seek to carry out a ‘false-flag’ attack that attempts to pin the blame on Ukrainians, or perhaps Western governments. The officials, like others quoted in this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter.”

So Russia is preparing to stage a chemical attack, and also the Russian chemical attack might look like Ukrainians or western governments committing a chemical attack, and also the evidence for this is secret, and also the details are secret, and also the government officials advancing this claim are secret, and also Russia’s military offensive is faltering. Gotcha.

The third paragraph is even better:

“The accusations surfaced as Russia repeated claims that the United States and Ukraine were operating secret biological weapons labs in Eastern Europe — an allegation that the Biden administration dismissed as ‘total nonsense’ and ‘outright lies.’”

This paragraph is awesome in two different ways. First, it’s awesome because The Washington Post goes out of its way to inform readers that Russia’s claims have been dismissed as “total nonsense” and “outright lies” after having literally just reported completely unevidenced claims by anonymous government officials with no criticism or scrutiny of any kind. Secondly, it’s awesome because at no point during the rest of the article is any mention made of Victoria Nuland’s incendiary admission before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that Ukraine has “biological research facilities” that the US is “quite concerned” might end up “falling into the hands of Russian forces”.

Over and over again throughout the article The Washington Post takes great care to inform readers that Russian claims about biological weapons are not to be trusted, with allegations from Moscow described as “unproven accusations” made with “no verifiable evidence“, “absurd and laughable“, “outrageous claims”, “utter nonsense”, “sinking to new depths” and “baseless“.

This, again, after uncritically reporting completely unsubstantiated allegations by government officials and sheltering them from any accountability by granting them the cover of anonymity. Unproven claims by the Russian government are laughable absurdities presented without evidence; unproven claims by the US government are just The News.

The Washington Post also refers to past Russian dismissals of alleged chemical weapons attacks in Syria as false flags used to frame Damascus, while of course making no mention of the mountains of evidence that this has indeed occurred. It also says the UN human rights office “has received ‘credible reports’ of Russia using cluster bombs” which “could constitute war crimes”, making no mention of the USA’s abundant use and sale of these same munitions.

Democracy Dies in Darkness.

The fact that this Russian false flag narrative is being shoved forward with so much propagandistic fervor, not just by The Washington Post but also by government officials and CIA media pundits, makes it all the more concerning that we’re seeing things like YouTube banning the denial of “well-documented violent events” involving Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. We could soon see a chemical weapons incident occur in Ukraine, after which Silicon Valley platforms ban all accounts who express skepticism of the official western narrative about what happened.

The US-centralized empire is censoring and propagandizing as though it is in a hot war with Russia currently. Officially the US and its allies are not at war, but the imperial narrative management machine is behaving as though we are. This makes sense because when two nuclear-armed powers are fighting for dominance and know a direct military confrontation can kill them both, other types of warfare are used instead, including propaganda campaigns and psychological warfare.

There is a widespread general understanding in the west that Russia stands everything to gain by lying about what happens on the ground in Ukraine and cannot be taken at its word about occurrences during this war. There is much less widespread understanding of the fact that both Ukraine and the United States stand everything to gain by lying about this war as well and cannot be trusted either.

The Washington Post’s own reporting says that behind the scenes western governments see Russian victory in this war as a foregone conclusion. Ukraine’s only chance at stopping Russia in the near term would be if it could persuade NATO powers to take a more direct role in combat, like setting up a no-fly zone as President Zelensky has persistently pleaded with them to do. One way to get around NATO’s rational resistance to directly attacking the military forces of a nuclear superpower would be to appeal to emotion via atrocity propaganda. By circulating a narrative that Russia has done something heinous which cries out to the heavens for vengeance, regardless of the risks entailed.

The United States would also benefit from circulating atrocity propaganda about Russia, in that it would further consolidate international support behind the agenda to economically strangle the nation to death in facilitation of the empire’s struggle for unipolar planetary hegemony. Even before the invasion the US was already pushing the narrative that Russia has a list of dissidents, journalists and “vulnerable populations such as religious and ethnic minorities and LGBTQI+ persons” who it plans on rounding up and torturing.

To be clear, it is not conjecture that the US and its proxies make use of atrocity propaganda. The infamous Nayirah testimony for example helped manufacture consent for the Gulf War when a 15 year-old girl who turned out to be a coached plant falsely told the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus that she’d witnessed Iraqi soldiers taking babies out of incubators in Kuwait and leaving them on the floor to die. 

Atrocity propaganda has been in use for as long as war and media have coexisted, and it would be incredibly naive to believe it won’t continue to be. Especially by power structures with a known history of doing so. 

For this reason it is necessary to take everything claimed about what happens in Ukraine with a planet-sized grain of salt, whether it’s by Russia, Ukraine, or the US and its allies. Be very skeptical of anything you hear about chemical attacks or any other narrative that can be used to get military firepower moving in a way that it otherwise would not. All parties involved in this conflict have every reason in the world to lie about such things.

March 14, 2022 Posted by | media, USA | Leave a comment

Western media trumpets blanket condemnation of Putin, without any consideration of the circumstances

Monbiot, let us note, has not used a single one of his weekly columns at The Guardian to highlight the years-long plight of Julian Assange, locked away in a British dungeon for revealing U.S. and U.K. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the gravest attack on a free press in living memory, and yet Monbiot used his most recent column to attack Assange supporters, such as veteran journalist John Pilger, for not being voluble enough in denouncing Putin.

The West’s Hands in Ukraine as Bloody as Putin’s,   Consortium News, By Jonathan Cook

March 11, 2022  Jonathan Cook confronts the demand throughout the Western press and social media to not only “condemn” the Russian president, but do so without qualification.

Jonathan-Cook.net  There is a discursive nervous tic all over social media at the moment, including from prominent journalists such as Guardian columnist George Monbiot. The demand is that everyone not only “condemn” Russian President Vladimir Putin for invading Ukraine, but do so without qualification.

Any reluctance to submit is considered certain proof that the person is a Putin apologist or a Kremlin bot, and that their views on everything under the sun – especially their criticisms of equivalent Western war crimes – can be safely ignored.

How convenient for all those Western leaders who have committed war crimes at least as bad as Russia’s current ones.

I have repeatedly described Russia’s invasion as illegal; I have regularly called Putin a war criminal (you may not have noticed but I just did it again in the two preceding paragraphs); and I have consistently compared Putin’s deeds to the very worst actions taken by the West over the past two decades. But none of that is enough. More is always needed.

The demand for unequivocal denunciation is a strange, if common, one and suggests that those insisting on it are being dishonest – if only with themselves. The function of the demand is not to clarify whether any particular piece of information or an argument is credible; it is intended purely as a “gotcha” meme.

I don’t remember an insistence that anyone condemn Tony Blair or George W. Bush for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 before they could be heard or taken seriously. Or that they denounce the U.S.-backed overthrow of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that plunged that country into murderous chaos. Or that they deplore the West’s material support for Saudi Arabia’s slaughter of Yemen’s population, including Britain’s sale of planes, bombs and training to Riyadh. Or that they criticize the West’s backing of head-chopping jihadists in Syria (who coincidentally now appear to be drifting into Ukraine to become our allies again). Or that they decry decades of Western support for Israel as it has disappeared the Palestinian people.

And those are things for which we – meaning Westerners – are directly responsible. We elected the politicians who caused this unquantifiable suffering. Those bombs were ours. We ought to be clamoring for our leaders to be dragged to The Hague to be tried for war crimes.

By contrast, we – meaning Westerners – are not responsible for Putin or his actions. I cannot vote him out of office. Nothing I say will make him alter course. And worse, anything I do say against him or Russia simply amplifies the mindless chorus of self-righteous Western commentary intended to cast stones at Russia’s warmongers while leaving our own home-grown warmongers in place.

Westerners denouncing Putin won’t make compromise and peace more likely. It will make it less likely. Russians need to be highlighting Putin’s crimes as best they can to drive him to the negotiating table, while we need to be doing the same to our leaders to push them to the same table. As long as our attention is on Putin and his crimes, it is not on our leaders and their crimes.

Fog of War

Those who insist it is quite possible to denounce both Putin and Western leaders at the same time are precisely the people who have been so half-hearted in holding our own leaders to account.

Monbiot, let us note, has not used a single one of his weekly columns at The Guardian to highlight the years-long plight of Julian Assange, locked away in a British dungeon for revealing U.S. and U.K. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the gravest attack on a free press in living memory, and yet Monbiot used his most recent column to attack Assange supporters, such as veteran journalist John Pilger, for not being voluble enough in denouncing Putin.

Those who require unequivocal condemnation of Putin insist that now – in the midst of a war – is not the time to be sowing doubt or undermining morale in the rightness of “our” cause. (A small giveaway that they think of this as a Western, not Ukrainian, war with Russia.)

Again conveniently, that is precisely the message Western leaders want to send too – just ask Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, whose “Partygate” scandal is now a distant memory as he seeks to evoke Churchillian gravitas in facing off with Russia. Instead, the parties in the British parliament put aside their very superficial differences this week as the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, rallied them with a “historic address.”

What, really, is the point of demanding Westerners denounce Putin unequivocally when the entire Western media and political class is directing our gaze exclusively at Russia’s crimes precisely so Westerners don’t look at equivalent Western crimes?

The truth is that, in power politics, unequivocal denunciations are for politicians and diplomats – and virtue-signalers. Condemnations may be emotionally satisfying, but the rest of us can put our energies to far better use.For most of us, the better course would be to blow away the immediate fog of war and instead analyze our – meaning the West’s – role in the unfolding events……………………………………………………………………………….. https://consortiumnews.com/2022/03/11/the-wests-hands-in-ukraine-as-bloody-as-putins/

March 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, media | Leave a comment

Hopes for Bradwell nuclear power station now fading away like the ebbing tide

Calm After the Storm  https://www.banng.info/news/regional-life/calm-after-the-storm/ 3 March 2022

As we emerge from Covid a rather eerie silence descends over Bradwell B. After a tumultuous period of fighting the grotesque prospect of a colossal nuclear power station of Chinese design we are left wondering if the threat is ebbing away or will flow back like the returning tide.

Just two years ago and just before the first frightening lockdown, The Chinese operator launched its pre-Application proposals and the gross scale of the Bradwell B juggernaut was as unexpected as it was threatening. Despite lockdown the local reaction was immediate, widespread and determined. The proposals were summarily repelled and CGN declared a pause and retreated homeward to think again.
At least the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) has got part of what it came for. The regulators, Environment Agency and Office for Nuclear Regulation, have gifted approval for the Chinese Hualong One UK HPR1000 reactor design as ‘suitable for deployment in the UK’.

But, not necessarily at the Bradwell site. Although the ultimate prize for CGN is to build its reactors at Bradwell gaining the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) approval is not really much help. It doesn’t tackle the issues of cooling water, long-term storage of radioactive waste or the impacts of climate change in anything like the detail needed to gain approval for the Bradwell site. There are many obstacles that must be surmounted before permission to build can be granted.

Perhaps, as BANNG and other commentators have observed, CGN will have to be content with the consolation prize and seek its fortune elsewhere. That may not be in the UK since it is widely felt that the UK will prevent the Chinese state in the guise of CGN having a strategic role in developing sensitive UK infrastructure like a nuclear power station.

And so there is impasse. Opposed by the local Blackwater communities and shunned by the UK Government Bradwell B seems frozen in aspic. The best that may be said is that CGN may not walk away or be pushed immediately but the project is likely to languish in a state of indefinite inanition and will fade away like the ebbing tide.

March 14, 2022 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Investors keen on renewable energy, while UK govt is trapping consumers into paying upfront for nuclear power plants to be built in a decade or more

Gordon Murray: LESLEY Riddoch’s article (The National, March 10)
is eminently sensible. The UK Government wants to build more large nuclear
plants such as Hinkley Point C. The problem for Boris is that investors are
not interested.

Centrica abandoned its plans to build new nuclear, Toshiba
exited the giant 3.3GW plant at Moorside, Cumbria and Hitachi scrapped the
£16 billion Wylfa plant on Anglesey. The current Hinkley development costs
are a whopping £23bn, almost double that projected in 2008 and set to rise
further.

The smart money is now with renewables where the returns are
higher, more immediate and less risky. Notwithstanding these setbacks, the
Conservative government, backed by Labour, is determined to plough on with
Sizewell C.

Their problem is who is going to fund it. The Government is not
keen to involve the Chinese who already get a return of 15% on their
investment at Hinckley Point C.

The Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s
answer is the Regulated Asset Base (RAB) funding model whereby consumers,
that’s us, will pay the construction costs by increasing energy bills. It
is a fanciful type of nuclear subsidy where consumers pay for and
underwrite the construction costs for 10 years before a single watt of
power has been generated.

You have not misread this! The Government is set
to increase our energy bills even further at a time when gas/energy prices
are soaring, pushing even more people into fuel poverty. Perhaps their
spirits will be raised when they learn that RAB, according to Kwarteng,
will give private investors greater certainty through a lower and more
reliable rate of return.

An added bonus is that bill payers can expect
their bills to rise even further when the project is completed since we can
expect the energy strike price for nuclear to be twice that of renewable
– the cheapest form of electricity generation that is now subsidy
free-where consumers only start paying once they start to generate.

TheSmall Modular Reactor programme promises lower energy production costs but
there is no hard evidence to support this claim. What we will get for
certain is large numbers of these power plants spread all over the country
that will raise safety concerns over proliferation of nuclear materials and
terrorist attacks.

 The National 12th March 2022

https://www.thenational.scot/politics/19988242.cost-living-crisis-consumers-will-continue-foot-bill-rising-energy-costs/

March 14, 2022 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Chernobyl nuclear plant lacking external power supply

Ukraine’s state nuclear power regulator said on Friday the electricity
supply to the Chernobyl nuclear power station had not yet been restored,
despite Russia’s energy ministry saying it was restored by Belarusian
specialists on Thursday. Ukraine has warned of an increased risk of a
radiation leak if the high-voltage power line, damaged in fighting, is not
repaired to the plant, which is occupied by Russian forces.

 Reuters 11th March 2022

https://www.reuters.com/world/chernobyl-plant-still-without-external-power-supply-ukraine-nuclear-body-2022-03-11/

March 14, 2022 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Markets are in denial about nuclear risk

Markets are in denial about nuclear risk, The Jordan Times, Mar 13,2022 –  NEW YORK  —  Financial markets do not seem to be pricing in the full risks of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The absence of any meaningful negative response in equity, corporate debt and sovereign debt markets in Europe, the United States, Canada and Japan would barely make sense even if there was no chance of the situation escalating into an open conflict between NATO and Russia. But that is not the only real risk; so, too, is the threat of the conflict going nuclear……….

Global asset markets have not even priced in this least-bad scenario. But if the Russia-Ukraine war escalated to become a Russia-NATO war, there would be a serious risk of nuclear conflict. One sure way to achieve such an escalation would be for NATO to establish a no-fly zone over Ukraine, as the Ukrainian government has urged.

While NATO and Western governments have imposed economic and financial sanctions on Russia and furnished Ukraine with anti-tank weapons, drones, portable surface-to-air missiles and ammunition, these forms of support do not amount to an act of war. Enforcing a no-fly zone, however, would mean shooting down Russian targets. Were NATO to take this step, a wider war would become inevitable.

So far, NATO has forthrightly rejected calls for a no-fly zone. It has also shown restraint in response to Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling. On February 27, 2022, Putin put Russia’s nuclear forces on high alert in response to Western sanctions and what he referred to as “aggressive statements” from NATO powers.

On the same day, Belarus abandoned its non-nuclear status  —  thereby permitting Russia’s nuclear weapons on its territory. This escalation came on the heels of Russia’s extensive strategic nuclear exercises on February 19, and Putin’s televised speech announcing the invasion on February 24, when he emphasised that Russia is still one of the world’s most powerful nuclear-weapons states…………..

Today, there is scant evidence that markets have even noticed the rising risk of a nuclear conflict. Denial is the name of the game.

Willem H. Buiter is an adjunct professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University.  2022. www.project-syndicate.org     http://www.jordantimes.com/opinion/willem-h-buiter/markets-are-denial-about-nuclear-risk

March 14, 2022 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs | Leave a comment