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The World’s Dumping Ground for Nuclear Waste Doesn’t Want Fukushima’s Wastewater.

Japan’s plan to discharge more than 1,000 tanks of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific has incensed island nations.

The Runit Dome, a concrete dome located in the Marshall Islands that houses tons of radioactive waste from nuclear testing in the 40’s and 50’s.

February 17, 2023

TOKYO — In the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a group of tropical islands has never seen winter. But one morning 70 years ago, a loud bang followed by a flash of light made it “snow” for the first time.

Fluttery and white, the powdery material sank into the Marshall Islands’ deep blue lagoons. It lightly covered the palm trees that lined Rongelap Atoll, astounding those who came out of their thatched homes to watch it settle on roofs. Children played with it, scooping the dust into their mouths. 

But within hours, the atoll’s residents mysteriously began falling ill. Hair fell out in clumps. Skin burned. People vomited. They were evacuated two days later, but the damage was already done. Years later, the Rongelapese would suffer heightened cases of cancer, miscarriages, and birth deformities. 

This was the fallout of Castle Bravo, the U.S.’ largest-ever thermonuclear bomb test that sprinkled radioactive debris on that warm March day. Now, residents of the island nations that include Fiji, the Marshall Islands, and French Polynesia invoke the nuclear accident and its subsequent contamination to oppose Japan’s plan to release its nuclear wastewater into the Pacific.

“We have a legacy of being the dumping ground when it comes to the issue of nuclear waste,” James Bhagwan, a Fijian anti-nuclear activist and secretary-general of the Pacific Conference of Churches, told VICE World News. 

“Pacific Islanders have a spiritual bond with both land and ocean. So this again speaks to the issue of poisoning a part of us, our family,” he said. 

The comparison Bhagwan drew between the controlled release of treated wastewater and an atmospheric nuclear test gone wrong may sound like a stretch. But it speaks to how much Pacific Island nations fear Japan’s planned discharge in the coming months of more than 1.3 million metric tons of contaminated water into the world’s largest ocean. 

The nuclear waste sits in over 1,000 water tanks in Japan’s northeastern prefecture of Fukushima, the product of the meltdown of the Daiichi nuclear reactors there in 2011. 

That year, a tsunami triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake inundated the power plant and knocked out its cooling systems. Since then, officials have been trying to cool the destroyed reactors by pumping over a hundred tons of water through them every day. 

But now Japan is running out of space to store this contaminated water, and is looking to release the treated liquid into the ocean this spring or summer.

Like Bhagwan, Pacific Island leaders have protested Japan’s plan. 

If it is safe, dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris, and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.

“We must prevent actions that will lead or mislead us towards another major nuclear contamination disaster at the hands of others,” said Henry Puna at a public seminar last month. He’s the former prime minister of the Cook Islands and current secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum—a regional bloc of 17 island nations.

In objecting to the release, Motarilavoa Hilda Lini, a Vanuatu stateswoman, has cited the slogan of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific movement: “If it is safe, dump it in Tokyo, test it in Paris, and store it in Washington, but keep our Pacific nuclear-free.”

Scientists disagree over the extent to which the release of Fukushima’s treated wastewater could affect the Pacific Islands. Some claim that nuclear waste could enter human food chains and contaminate fish eaten by communities outside Japan. Other experts argue that the distance between Japan and the Pacific Islands, ocean current patterns, and marine behavior will make the risk of nuclear contamination for the Pacific Islands highly unlikely. The water will get released into the Pacific through an undersea tunnel, built one kilometer off the coast near the Daiichi plant. 

Japan has insisted that the wastewater is safe to release following treatment by a system called ALPS, Advanced Liquid Processing System. The process is designed to remove all radioactive material found in the water with two exceptions: The radioactive isotopes of hydrogen and carbon, tritium and carbon-14, are almost impossible to filter out and will instead be released after the liquid is diluted to one-hundredth of its concentration with seawater.

Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO)—which ran the collapsed Daiichi plant—said it would test the waste before, during, and after the wastewater’s release into the Pacific through an undersea tunnel over the span of 30 years.

While Japan maintains that the wastewater it will discharge will contain less tritium annually than a normal nuclear facility, the country’s own fishermen and neighboring South Korea and China have protested the decision. One Chinese official dared his Japanese counterparts to “take a sip” if the tritiated water was harmless. 

Scientists who spoke with VICE World News and who are referenced in this article said that the amount of tritium Japan plans to release won’t be harmful to humans or the environment because of the small doses. And though ALPS can’t remove carbon-14, TEPCO told VICE World News that the radioactive isotope’s concentrations are well below the regulatory limit. 

But despite the general consensus that low doses of tritium, which is found also in rain and seawater, have negligible effects on health, some scientists questioned whether the wastewater to be released truly meets the level of safety promised by Japan.

Ken Buesseler, a marine radiochemist and one of five experts on the Pacific Islands Forum’s panel of independent scientists, questioned TEPCO’s ability to sufficiently remove radioactive material from the liquid. He cited how, in 2020, the company had to retreat about 70 percent of the stored wastewater because it was found to contain amounts of radioactive substances exceeding standards. 

“That doesn’t give me a lot of confidence,” he told VICE World News. Monitoring the wastewater after it was released into the ocean would be too late, Buesseler added, as once it’s in the ocean, TEPCO can’t get it back. 

He also faulted the company for analyzing only about a quarter of the 1,061 tanks and providing testing results on just seven radioactive substances out of the dozens TEPCO said it would monitor. This, he said, ignored the possibility that there would be variation among the tanks, potentially overlooking harmful levels of more radioactive substances such as cesium-137 and strontium-90.

In a written statement to VICE World News, TEPCO said potential variations among the tanks have been accounted for and that each tank will eventually be tested before they’re discharged. Not all tanks have been tested yet because 70 percent of them currently do not meet TEPCO’s standard for discharge and will be retreated. TEPCO also said it would sample the water for 69 different radionuclides before it is released and that the test results would be audited by third-party agencies it appointed and Japan’s nuclear regulator.

Despite these measures, critics say that TEPCO has had a spotty record when it comes to communicating with the public. In 2018, Kyodo News reported that the treated water still contained radioactive substances above the legal limit after it had gone through ALPS. And it wasn’t until 2020 that the power company first acknowledged that the water contained carbon-14, which can’t be removed using ALPS. 

“I saw this as an opportunity for Japan to build up trust, to take care of their waste, clean it up and demonstrate independently to the world that they’ve done that,” Buesseler said. “It’s a lot of trust, is what it really boils down to. And we’re saying, show us.”

Brent Heuser, a nuclear engineering professor at the University of Illinois in the U.S., told VICE World News he’s confident that, even if the tanks storing wastewater in Fukushima have higher levels of radioactive substances than is reported, dilution of the liquid is enough to ensure their safety. He noted that the company will discharge the water gradually over 30 years to sufficiently thin out the wastewater. 

Paul Dickman, a radiochemist who has visited Fukushima multiple times over the past decade to advise Japanese regulators on nuclear waste cleanup, supports the safe release of the treated water, although he acknowledged that the debate also hinges on trust.

“Let’s face it. I think the central government lost trust and trust is very hard to rebuild,” Dickman, a former senior official of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and current chairman of the American Nuclear Society’s external affairs committee, told VICE World News.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization within the UN system that advocates for the peaceful use of nuclear energy, has tested the wastewater and found the plan to release it in line with global practices.

But scientists who support the discharge say worrying about the treated wastewater was ignoring the more pressing concern: what TEPCO will do with the fuel debris in the reactor vessels.

When the 2011 tsunami hit Fukushima’s three reactors, power sources and equipment used to cool the fuel inside shut down. This allowed the fuel to overheat, melting the core and other parts of the reactor. Once it cooled and solidified, it became highly radioactive material known as “fuel debris.” At the moment, it sits at the bottom of the three reactor vessels and needs to be cleaned out before the plant can be decommissioned—making it a far greater issue than what’s in the tanks, Dickman said. 

“It’s like, if you’re worrying about the air freshener in your car and you’re not worrying about the tires, then you’re not paying attention,” Dickman said. 

Though the deadline for Japan’s release of the treated wastewater is fast approaching, the country is yet to fully convince Pacific Island nations that its plan won’t be harmful. The tanks fill up day by day, swelling to their 1.3 million ton limit. 

Now, the Pacific Islands are running out of time to defend their oceans, the environmentalist Bhagwan said, warning Japan of the consequences that could lay ahead. 

“The culture of shame will be laid upon the Japanese government and the people of Japan in years to come. Do they want that to be part of their legacy?” he said.


February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

‘The Days’ Netflix Fukushima Series: Everything We Know So Far

The new Japanese series is expected to land on June 1st, 2023.

Netflix has released its first teaser for its upcoming drama series on the Fukushima disaster called The Days. We’re hearing the series is set to be released globally in June 2023.

First announced back in September 2022. The series is comparable to HBO and Sky’s groundbreaking limited series Chernobyl which has quickly become one of the most celebrated limited series of all time. If The Days is half as good as Chernobyl then Netflix subscribers will be in for a treat.

Warner Bros Film and Lyonesse are behind the production for Netflix, with Nakata Hideo and Nishiura Masaki sharing directing duties.

A teaser was released by Netflix (exclusively on Netflix Japan’s YouTube channel) on February 16th, 2023. The teaser is sadly only available in Japanese on YouTube, although you can find a subtitled teaser embedded within the Netflix page for the show (you can also set a reminder there).

When is The Days Netflix release date?

Through Netflix’s official channels, it has only been confirmed that The Days will be released sometime in 2023. However, we’re hearing the project is currently set for a June 1st, 2023 global release date.Until confirmed officially by Netflix all release dates are subject to change.

What is the plot of The Days?

The synopsis for The Days is the following:

Depicts the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident that occurred in 2011 over a period of 7 days. From the three perspectives of the government, corporate organizations, and those who put their lives on the line. It will approach what really happened on that day and in that place.

What is The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster?

The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster was a nuclear accident that took place in Ōkuma, Fukushima, Japan on March 11th, 2011. The event was caused by the Tōhoku earthquake and its resulting tsunami.On the afternoon of March 11th, 2011, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Japan, with the epicenter only 45 miles east off the coast of the Tōhoku region. The earthquake triggered an extremely powerful tsunami, with waves recorded as high as 14 meters hitting the Japanese coastline.

These 14-meter waves rolled over the man-made defenses in place to protect the power plant, causing a devasting amount of damage in the process. The flooding of units 1-4 in the lower parts of the reactor buildings caused not only a loss in power, but the emergency generators also failed. Thanks to the loss of power, the pumps used to cool down the reactor cores stopped working.

With the reactors unable to be cooled, three nuclear meltdowns took place, with three hydrogen explosions and shockingly large amounts of radioactive contamination released into three of the four units.

The radiation that was released into the atmosphere forced the Japanese government to increase the evacuation area to a 12-mile radius. Not to mention there was an unapparelled amount of radioactive isotopes that were released into the Pacific Ocean, which in the long term will have a massive and devasting impact upon the world’s largest ocean.

Could the disaster have been prevented?

Had the correct measures taken place, then there was definitely a chance that the damage from the disaster would have been reduced.

Key factors such as the power plants’ height to sea level played a huge role in the disaster. At only 10 meters above sea level, the 14-meter Tsunami waves rolled over the defenses easily, however, in 1967 when it was first being built, the original plan would have seen the plant sit 30 meters above sea level. The reduction in height was a result of TEPCO leveling the sea coast in order to make it easier to bring in the equipment to build the plant.

Over the years the concern over earthquakes was raised several times, in particular after the backup generator of Reactor 1 was flooded in 1991, and tsunamis of 2000 and 2008.

We can’t definitively say for certain that the disaster will have been averted but had concerns been taken more seriously, and stronger measures implemented, at the very least the damage caused by the tsunamis may have been reduced.

Who are the cast members of The Days?

None of the following cast members have been given named roles, however, we can confirm their involvement in the series.

Yakusho Koji has been cast in the main role. He has yet to star in a leading role for Netflix but is most famous for his work on the Japanese NHK drama Tokugawa Ieyasu in the role of Oda Nobunaga.

Takenouchi Yutaka has been cast in a supporting role. He has yet to star in a Netflix Original, but some may recognize him for his role as Akasaka Hideki in Shin Godzilla.

Kohinata Fumiyo has also been confirmed for a supporting role, but like his fellow co-star has yet to star in a Netflix original movie or drama.

Kobayashi Kaoru, Musaka Naomasa, and Satoi Kenta have also been cast in supporting roles.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment

Simulation shows Fukushima wastewater will reach Jeju within 5 years upon dumping

The strong Kuroshio Current is expected to lead the water to the West Coast of the US and then continue to spread throughout the northern parts of the Pacific Ocean, according to the simulation


A simulation by South Korean government research institutes has found that if Japan dumps contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear reactor into the ocean, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen in the contaminated water will begin entering the waters off Jeju Island within four or five years. The same analysis also found that a low concentration of radiation (less than one-millionth of the current background concentration in Korean waters) could temporarily be brought into the area by ocean currents two years after the contaminated water is released.

On Thursday, a joint research team including researchers from the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) and the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI) presented their results of a simulation studying the effects of the diffusion of tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen present in the Fukushima wastewater.

The results of the simulation were presented at an academic conference held by the Korean Society of Hazard Mitigation in Jeju.

The reason for concern is that tritium can decay to helium-3 and affect DNA, which could result in adverse effects on the human body including cell death or deterioration in reproductive function.

This is the first time that the results of a joint simulation conducted by national research institutes on the domestic impact of the release of Fukushima wastewater have been released.

Ever since Japan announced its decision in April 2021 to release the contaminated water, both the previous Moon Jae-in government and the current Yoon Suk-yeol administration have recognized the need to conduct studies, saying that domestic institutes would further advance analysis models and then conduct related studies.

The results of this study were obtained using an analysis model that had been upgraded by late last year.

According to the research results, the tritium present in the wastewater poised to be discharged off the coast of Fukushima, which is located in eastern Japan, would move in an eastward direction due to the strong Kuroshio Current. This would lead the water to the West Coast of the US and then continue to spread throughout the northern parts of the Pacific Ocean.

On the other hand, the inflow of this water to the Korean Peninsula would be slower given the weak ocean currents.

A diagram showing the simulated tritium concentrations in the ocean two years following release. (Source: KAERI-KIOST simulation)

The analysis predicts that around four to five years will pass after the release of the wastewater before tritium begins flowing in Jeju waters.

Even though the Korean Peninsula is situated geographically close to Japan, it is expected to be affected by the wastewater at a later time than, for example, the Pacific Coast of the US, because the seawater flows eastward from Japan due to the influence of ocean currents.

Since the Korean Peninsula is located to the west of Japan, the water will first spread to the Pacific Ocean and then begin making its way to Korean waters.

The research team predicted that the concentration of tritium flowing into Jeju waters would reach around 0.001 becquerels (Bq) per cubic meter of water 10 years after the release of the Fukushima wastewater. A becquerel is a unit of radioactivity.

This concentration is one-100,000th of the average tritium concentration (background concentration) of the 172 Bq/m3 in domestic seawater analyzed by the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety.

“This concentration is a concentration [level] that is difficult to detect with an analysis device,” the research team explained.

However, the study also found that the timing of wastewater inflow into Korean waters could change every year depending on specific characteristics of the ocean currents.

In fact, the joint simulation showed a temporary inflow of wastewater into Korean waters due to the influence of sea currents just two years after its release, albeit at a low concentration of 0.0001 Bq/m3.

“Ocean currents do not flow steadily, but change from season to season,” says Kim Kyeong-ok, a senior researcher at KIOST who helped carry out this simulation.

“The reason for the temporary influx of tritium two years after the [wastewater] release is because the ocean current is strong at this time,” Kim explained.

The simulation results from Korean researchers are not very different from what previous studies conducted in China concluded.

In 2021, a simulation conducted by an international research team led by researchers from the First Institute of Oceanography of China’s Ministry of Natural Resources found that tritium reached South Korean waters at a concentration of about 0.001 Bq/m3 five years after the initial release of the wastewater.

Last year, another simulation conducted by a research team at Tsinghua University in China predicted that tritium would reach Korean waters after 10 years at a concentration level of one-hundredth the levels present in the Pacific Ocean east of Japan.

“Tritium released off the coast of Fukushima was found to spread throughout the entire northern part of the Pacific Ocean 10 years later. These are similar results to China’s simulation study on the spread of the wastewater,” the KOIST and KAERI joint research team said.

This simulation was based on the assumption that Japan would release 22 trillion Bq of tritium annually for 10 years from next month into the ocean located about 1 kilometer from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The figure of 22 trillion Bq is the maximum amount Japan plans to release annually.

However, this simulation was only focused on the diffusion of tritium, meaning that the spread of other radioactive nuclides throughout the food chain or the effects of their accumulation in water was not taken into consideration.

Therefore, this analysis does not represent the full environmental impact that the discharge of the wastewater would actually have. In reality, besides tritium, the wastewater Japan plans to release into the ocean contains many more radioactive materials as well.

A diagram showing the simulated tritium concentrations in the ocean two years following release. (Source: KAERI-KIOST simulation)

While Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced plans to begin the release of the wastewater this spring, this schedule could be delayed if reviews related to wastewater monitoring plans currently underway by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency are prolonged.

Regarding the results of this simulation, both environmental groups and opposition parties in Korea remain unconvinced, arguing that it is too hasty to conclude that the impact on Korea from the Fukushima wastewater will be negligible based solely on this simulation.

The reasoning behind this stance is the argument that the Japanese data used to conduct this study is unreliable and that the concentration levels of other radioactive materials were not considered.

“Many experts, including the US National Association of Marine Laboratories, which is affiliated with more than 100 marine research institutes, don’t trust the Japanese government’s data and plans based on the lack of important data regarding the amount of radionuclides in each tank where contaminated water is stored and the lack of efficiency of the ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System),” the Korea Federation for Environmental Movements said in a statement.

“The safety of discharging the wastewater into the ocean should not be evaluated solely by [measuring] the concentration levels of radioactive materials in seawater,” KFEM added.

In addition, the Democratic Party’s response team aimed at stopping the discharge of the Fukushima wastewater also spoke out after the simulation results were published, saying, “The priority should be verifying Japan’s false data.”

“It is difficult to expect reliability because these results are based on Japan’s false data and claims,” the team said in a statement.

“What we need to do now is to request verifiable and transparent data regarding the Fukushima wastewater from the Japanese government and to prepare for international legal responses, such as provisional measures, to stop the release of the Fukushima wastewater,” the team argued.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Tritium in Korean Waters Likely to Rise Slightly with Fukushima Discharge


A new study estimated that the density of tritium in South Korean waters will rise by around one-100-thousandth the previous level in the event Japan releases contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant for ten years starting from March.

Researchers at the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology and Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute published the assessment on Thursday as part of the the results of their simulation of the planned discharge during a conference of the Korean Society of Hazard Mitigation in Jeju.

The researchers conducted the latest study on the premise that Japan will, for ten years, release the treated contaminated water from the failed Fukushima plant that includes up to 22 terabecquerel.

The researchers assessed that the concentration of tritium, which is the radioactive isotope of hydrogen, in South Korean waters will reach around zero-point-001 becquerel per cubic meter in ten years, or one-100-thousandth of the average of 172 becquerels per cubic meter of tritium currently found in Korean waters.

According to the researchers, the amount of tritium is difficult to detect with current analysis systems.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan Delays Dump Of Fukushima Wastewater. But For How Long?

The decision coincides with construction setbacks that would have postponed any discharge into the Pacific Ocean until spring or summer at the earliest.

February 16, 2023

Japan’s decision to postpone the release of treated nuclear wastewater into the ocean is giving Pacific nations and territories more time to push for other options.

But the company hired to dispose of the material is still moving ahead with preparations for the work, and told Civil Beat it expects to get the go-ahead in the coming months.

The wastewater is from the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, destroyed in March 2011 following the Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami.

It was deemed one of the worst nuclear disasters on record.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida indicated that the nation would hold off the release until it was “verifiably safe to do so and based on a relationship built of trust and in the spirit of friendship,” according to the Pacific Islands Forum, an intergovernmental organization.

Release plans were made public in 2021 and the process was scheduled to begin early this year and continue over the course of 40 years.

Several months of negotiation and international inspections that reiterated safety concerns preceded the decision.

But Tokyo Electric Power Co. stated in an interview with Radio New Zealand that the water, treated with an Advanced Liquid Processing System, remains safe to be discharged.

The company continues to work under the premise it will begin releasing water in the coming months, a representative confirmed to Civil Beat.

After visiting Japan an independent panel assembled by PIF said there was insufficient evidence that the release would be safe.

The water has been treated to remove radioactive materials, though significant gaps in data remain and all alternative disposal options have not been fully considered, said PIF scientific panel member Robert Richmond, who was part of the delegation that visited last week. 

Richmond, director of the University of Hawaii Kewalo Marine Laboratory, has previously raised concerns about the potential interplay between lingering radioactive compounds and marine life in the Pacific, which could eventually make its way into the food system and fundamentally change the ecosystem.

Robert Richmond holds experiments on music CD at the Kewalo UH facility.

One of the compounds in the wastewater of most concern to Richmond is tritium, defined by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission as a “mildly radioactive isotope,” which is already released from operational nuclear power stations globally. 

Richmond says he was not entirely satisfied with the level of research and data Japan could provide to the panel, despite TEPCO experimenting with flounder to assess whether there had been a change in the fish. 

“When people try to trivialize the seriousness of that, that becomes very concerning for us,” Richmond said in an interview.

Company Moves Forward With Plan

Under the direction of the Japanese government, five methods of disposal were considered.

The final options were steam release, and discharging the treated water over time to dilute its contents. Releasing treated water into the ocean was selected and supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency

The scientific panel though has continually raised questions over the apparent rush to dispose of the wastewater, given fears over contamination. 

Tritium, the key radioactive compound in the liquid, has a half-life of 12.3 years, so encasing the treated water in concrete would deal with the issue without risking potential fallout in the Pacific. 

“I felt a sense of relief. That was very fleeting.” – Former CNMI Rep. Sheila Babauta

Richmond says science is developing faster than international standards and regulations, which means current standards may not reflect the best possible solution.

“If they can guarantee and swear that the water will be totally safe by all standards, then why are they still averse to keeping it on site, binding it up in concrete so that it can’t get into people and can’t get into oceanic organisms, rather than making it the transboundary issue it is?” Richmond said. 

TEPCO reiterated that it was following the basic policy set by the Japanese government in April 2021, and that it would “move forward with the construction of discharge facilities with the aim of commencing ocean discharge within approximately two years.”

The power company said construction delays mean the release may not happen until spring or summer, the Associated Press reported

Does Delay Still Mean Inevitable?

Japan has faced pushback from China and South Korea, as well as U.S. territorial governments in the Pacific, despite the U.S. Department of State’s statement that Japan had “been transparent about its decision,” in 2021. 

The House of Representatives in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands introduced a resolution six months later, opposing nuclear testing and waste storage or disposal in the Pacific. The U.S. Territory has its own history with Japan, which planned to dump 10,000 drums of nuclear waste near its waters in the 1970s.

Along with years of nuclear testing and still-lingering waste and pollution from World War II, such treatment of the Pacific region informs current misgivings.

Former CNMI Rep. Sheila Babauta.

Former CNMI House Rep. Sheila Babauta, who introduced the resolution, says that cooperation and engagement with large international institutions such as the U.S. military, at least within Micronesia, have historically been opaque.

“I felt a sense of relief. That was very fleeting,” Babauta said in an interview. “We’ve engaged very much with the world around us and have been burned many times. And so it does come with trauma.”

The delay buys Pacific nations time to rally, organize and educate the region on the risks associated with the wastewater release, Babauta says.

But just how long they have is uncertain. 

The decision to delay has curried some favor however from the Federated States of Micronesia, who had voiced opposition to the Japanese plan in September.

Richard Clark, special advisor to the FSM President David Panuelo, said in an email statement that the country was buoyed by Japan’s decision to delay until other Pacific nations “attain the same level of trust in Japan’s intentions and capabilities.”

The Pacific Action Network on Globalisation, a Fiji-based regional watchdog, was concerned that Pacific nations would be in a difficult predicament because Japan is a major regional donor. 

But Joey Tau, deputy coordinator of PANG, says that conundrum pales in comparison to the environmental effects of releasing the wastewater into the Pacific, as forecast by the PIF scientific panel. 

“If Japan decides to go ahead, we will see it as a fundamental breach of human rights,” Tau said in an interview. “We really hope that all other options are exhausted.”


February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

NH 608: Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer Rates Soar – Joseph Mangano

February 14, 2023

Last year, a report revealed that Fukushima child thyroid cancer rates had skyrocketed – but still, the government of Japan and the nuclear industry refuse to take these statistics seriously.
But in truth – how bad is it? We interviewed a genuine expert to find out.

Joseph Mangano is Executive Director of Radiation and Public Health Project.  He is an epidemiologist – one who searches for the cause of disease, identifies people who are at risk, determines how to control or stop the spread, or prevent it from happening again. Joe has over 30 years of experience working with nuclear numbers and comes from a history of teasing out health information from data. We spoke on Friday, February 11, 2022.


February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , | Leave a comment

93% of S. Koreans concerned over safety of food from Fukushima region: survey

February 15, 2023

A recent survey conducted by Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun has revealed differing opinions over how safe it is to eat food produced in the Fukushima region. In an internet poll of 3-thousand people released on Tuesday, 93-percent of Koreans asked felt it would be “dangerous” to eat food produced in the Fukushima area. On the other hand, 36-percent of Japanese residents felt it would be unsafe to do so. People from other parts of the world also took part in the survey, with 87 percent of Chinese respondents expressing concerns over food from Fukushima. Japan is set to release contaminated water into the sea from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in the coming months.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima: Japan insists release of 1.3m tonnes of ‘treated’ water is safe

Neighbouring countries and local fishers express concern as 12th anniversary of nuclear disaster looms

Workers in hazmat suits remove radioactive materials from contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Wed 15 Feb 2023

Almost 12 years have passed since the strongest earthquake in Japan’s recorded history resulted in a tsunami that killed more than 18,000 people along its north-east coast.

As the country prepares to mark the 11 March anniversary, one of the disaster’s most troubling legacies is about to come into full view with the release of more than 1m tonnes of “treated” water from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The tsunami knocked out the plant’s backup electricity supply, leading to meltdowns in three of its reactors, in the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chornobyl 25 years earlier.

Much has changed since the Guardian’s first visit to the plant in 2012, when the cleanup had barely begun and visitors were required to wear protective clothing and full-face masks. Atmospheric radiation levels have dropped, damaged reactor buildings have been reinforced and robots have identified melted fuel in the basements.

But as the Guardian learned on a recent visit, progress on decommissioning – a process that could take four decades – is being held up by the accumulation of huge quantities of water that is used to cool the damaged reactor cores.

Now, 1.3m tonnes of water – enough to fill about 500 Olympic-sized swimming pools – is being stored in 1,000 tanks that cover huge swathes of the complex. And space is running out.

Two steel pillars protruding from the sea a kilometre from the shore mark the spot where, later this year, the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco], plans to begin releasing the water into the Pacific Ocean, in the most controversial step in the Fukushima Daiichi cleanup to date.

The decision comes more than two years after Japan’s government approved the release of the water, which is treated using on-site technology to remove most radioactive materials. But the water still contains tritium, a naturally occurring radioactive form of hydrogen that is technically difficult to separate from water.

The discharge, which is due to begin in the spring or summer, will take place in defiance of local fishing communities, who say it will destroy more than a decade of work to rebuild their industry. Neighbouring countries have also voiced opposition.

The government and Tepco claim the environmental and health impacts will be negligible because the treated water will be released gradually after it has been diluted by large amounts of seawater. The International Atomic Energy Agency says nuclear plants around the world use a similar process to dispose of wastewater containing low-level concentrations of tritium and other radionuclides.

Tepco and government officials who guided a small group of journalists around Fukushima Daiichi this month insisted the science supports their plans to pump the “treated” water – they object to media reports describing it as contaminated – into the ocean.

The water will be treated and, if necessary, treated again until tritium levels have fallen below government limits, said Hikaru Kuroda, a Tepco official overseeing the decontamination and decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi. “By the time the liquid is diluted with seawater, tritium levels will be at less than 1,500 becquerels per litre, or 1/40th of the government standard for discharging water into the environment,” he said.

“We will have contaminated water on the site for as long as we have to cool the reactor basements. And we will release the water very slowly to begin with, so we could be looking at something like 20 to 30 years to complete the process.”

The fiercest opposition has come from Fukushima’s fishers, who say releasing the water risks destroying their livelihoods because consumers will shun their catch and send prices plummeting.

“Even though it is safe, it could still harm sales of Fukushima seafood and lower prices, which is what happened 12 years ago,” conceded Junichi Matsumoto, Tepco’s chief officer for the management of treated water. “We know fishing communities are worried … that’s why we and the government are working on addressing the potential reputational damage.”

The Fukushima prefectural government says that, post-disaster, its food safety standards are among the strictest in the world. The government-set upper limit for radioactive caesium in ordinary foodstuffs such as meat and vegetables is 100 becquerels a kilogram, compared with 1,250Bq/kg in the EU and 1,200Bq/kg in the US.

While officials attempt to reassure the public and other countries that Fukushima produce is safe for consumers, Tepco and the government have embarked on a PR offensive, holding regular briefings on the water discharge for Tokyo-based diplomats and journalists, and running ads on TV, in newspapers and online.

“We take other countries’ concerns seriously, which is why we are using every possible opportunity to explain the discharge plan to them,” said Ayako Ogino, a foreign ministry official. “We have made a commitment to discharge the water without harming the environment or human health. To describe the water as contaminated is erroneous, as it implies that it will harm the environment.”

The campaign has had mixed results. South Korea and China have voiced opposition to the discharge, while the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) said recently it had “grave concerns”.

Environmental groups have challenged the Japanese government’s claims that the water will not affect marine life or human health, while the US National Association of Marine Laboratories has pointed to a lack of adequate and accurate scientific data to support its reassurances on safety.

The water release plan received a boost this month, however, when Micronesia, a member of the PIF, dropped its opposition to the water discharge. Its president, David Panuelo, said in Tokyo that his country was “no longer fearful or concerned about this issue now as we trust in Japan’s intention and technological capabilities in not harming our shared oceanic interests”.

Japanese officials have ruled out other options, including long-term storage underground or evaporation, and insist nothing will stand in the way of the discharge plans. “The biggest obstacle to decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi is the debris [inside the reactors],” said Atsushi Wakui, a nuclear accident official at the economy, trade and industry ministry.

“Securing the site so we can begin removing the melted fuel is absolutely essential, and that means urgently addressing the water problem. There are more than 1,000 tanks of water here, and they need to go.”

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , , , | Leave a comment

Final disposal of nuclear waste is “the responsibility of the government”…but is it safe? What is happening in towns and villages in Hokkaido, where a literature review is underway

February 15, 2023
The Fumio Kishida administration is moving forward with the utilization of nuclear power. This time, he has put together a policy to take national responsibility for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste from spent nuclear fuel. Despite the encouraging tone of the words, distrust is mounting. The government has emphasized “national responsibility” in its response to the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, but there have been instances in which the government has tended to act arbitrarily. What developments are expected in the future regarding the final disposal of the waste? How will this affect the towns of Sutsu and Kamieuchi in Hokkaido, where literature surveys are underway? (The following is a summary of the report by Yuzuru Miyahata and Naoaki Nishida.)
◆Spent nuclear fuel continues to accumulate
 The government will make a concerted and concerted effort toward the final disposal of the spent fuel. A ministerial meeting was held on October 10 to discuss the selection of a final disposal site for high-level radioactive waste. The draft revision of the basic policy presented at the meeting clearly stated the above passage. The policy is currently undergoing public comment, and if it is revised, it will be the first time in eight years, since 2015, that the policy has been revised.
 High-level radioactive waste from spent nuclear fuel is also known as “nuclear waste. At present, spent nuclear fuel continues to accumulate in storage pools at nuclear power plants, and vitrified waste, which is made by solidifying liquid waste with glass, is being processed.

Spent nuclear fuel from the new conversion reactor Fugen is stored in a pool at the Tokai Reprocessing Plant in Tokai-mura, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Nuclear waste is a troublesome problem because of its extremely high radioactivity and long life. According to the Final Disposal Law enacted in 2000, the plan is to dispose of nuclear waste in a geological formation deep underground, but due to safety concerns and other factors, a concrete roadmap has yet to be drawn.
 The government’s emphasis on its responsibility is a reflection of this situation. Since the enactment of the Final Disposal Law, a nationwide public call for proposals, known as the “hand-picked” method, began, and Toyo Town in Kochi Prefecture applied in 2007, but the application was withdrawn due to the fierce opposition of the townspeople. Currently, only the Hokkaido towns of Sutsu-cho and Kamieuchi-mura have accepted the “literature review,” the first step in the selection process.
 According to the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI), approximately 160 explanatory meetings were held throughout Japan over the past five years, but interest in the project was limited. On the other hand, in the case of the other countries where final disposal sites have been decided, the number of candidate sites was narrowed down from about 10 to only one. The person in charge said, “As a result of the survey, there is opposition from the public and the fact that it cannot be used as a disposal site. We need more candidate sites,” he said.
◆Disbelief in government policy: “Can we really do this?
 Under the current system, the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NUMO), to which the power companies contribute the project cost, is responsible for selecting the disposal site and the disposal itself. However, because of the difficulties in selecting a disposal site, when the basic policy was revised in 2003, the government stepped up to the plate by presenting areas that were considered highly suitable. This time, however, the government “decided to step it up a notch,” according to the person in charge of the matter mentioned above.
 While Professor Yo Fujimura of Kanagawa Institute of Technology understands that “the national government is responsible for the nuclear power policy because it is a national policy,” he also has some concerns. The national government must not force the local communities to do something.
 At the root of his concern is a distrust of the national government. He wonders, “Have the national government and electric power companies done anything to earn our trust in their response to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant? For example, the cleanup of contaminated water at the Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. When he was prime minister, Yoshihide Suga said that the government would take responsibility for the situation, but he turned a deaf ear to the opposition to releasing the water into the ocean and decided to release it after it had been treated.
 Even though the government is moving forward with the final disposal of the waste, some doubt whether it can really be done.
 It is said that it will take 100,000 years for high-level radioactive waste to become safe. Hideyuki Hirakawa, a professor of science, technology, and society at Osaka University, said, “Japan is an earthquake-prone country. There are active faults everywhere. If a problem is found after moving the waste deep underground, will it be possible to remove the radioactive waste? I have not lost faith in the technology related to nuclear power plants. And how can we be sure of safety 100,000 years from now?

◆The reason why the survey is not progressing is because of the upcoming election.
 Now that the Kishida administration has declared that “the national government will take responsibility for the final disposal of the waste,” what do the people of Sutou Town and Kamieuchi Village, where the literature review is underway, think?
 The literature review for both towns and villages, which began in November 2020, is still ongoing. Initially scheduled to take about two years, a NUMO spokesperson said, “It is taking longer than expected. We are in the process of asking a working group at METI for their thoughts on how to evaluate the survey results. We have not yet decided how long it will take,” he said.
 Once the literature review using geological maps and academic papers is completed, NUMO plans to move on to an overview survey to examine the geology and ground conditions, based on the wishes of the local community. This is the second phase of the survey.
 Masayuki Domon, 69, a member of the Kamieuchi Village Council who announced his opposition to the literature survey three years ago, wonders if the reason the survey has not been completed after two years is because an election is coming up. The “election” referred to here is the village council election scheduled for April. Given the current situation in which many village council members are in favor of the project, he suspects that they do not want to make waves.
 Mr. Domon said, “Time has passed without sufficient explanation to the villagers. The governor has clearly stated that he will not accept the summary survey, so we have no choice but to urge the village mayor to keep in step with us,” he told himself.
◆Divided opinions and broken relationships

On the other hand, Kazuyuki Tsuchiya, 74, a member of an opposition group in the town of Sutomachi, said of the Kishida administration, “To put it simply, it’s just infuriating. When they emphasize that ‘the final disposal is the responsibility of the national government,’ it sounds like ‘the national government is pushing hard for the selection of a disposal site in towns and villages where investigations are underway. What the government says cannot be trusted at all.
 The town’s ordinance stipulates that a referendum will be held when the town moves from a literature review to an overview survey, but the mayor’s decision is not binding.
 The town council’s opinion carries weight, and currently it is split evenly between those in favor and those opposed. However, “I am having a hard time finding a candidate,” he said. In this small town, the people are closely knit, and some of them have lost their relationships with each other because of the split in support of and against the project.
 He is also wary of how the proponents of the project will react to the briefing by NUMO representatives, saying, “Even if they call it a ‘place for dialogue,’ the actual situation is different. It has become a place for one side to express its viewpoints. He fears that the NUMO representatives will be more inclusive of the proponents and more likely to cut off opponents.
 On October 10, the Kishida administration passed a cabinet decision on the “Basic Policy for the Realization of Green Transformation (GX),” which includes the active use of nuclear power plants. The timing of the decision to present the draft basic policy on final disposal at the time of the outbreak of objections underscored the “responsibility of the national government.
◆ “It is only making the local communities suffer and be troubled.
 Tatsujiro Suzuki, a professor of nuclear policy at Nagasaki University, said, “If there is no final disposal site, they will blame us even more. We are only aware of such voices. It has a strong sense of appeal.” He doubts the intention of the government to deflect criticism. He then added, “Even if we say we will focus on the selection of a disposal site, the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (DENJI-REN) will be in charge of the process. There will be no particular change.
 While discussion of a final disposal site is inevitable, it would be problematic to proceed without the consent of the local residents, as was the case in the town of Sutsu and the village of Kamieuchi.
 Tsunehide Chino, associate professor of environmental sociology at Shinshu University, said, “The government has often used the phrase ‘government-led promotion of understanding’ with regard to the final disposal site, but even looking at the two Hokkaido towns and villages today, there is no consensus of opinion, and in fact, this is causing division. This has only caused distress and pain to the local communities,” he continued. The problem is that the administration has not faced up to the harsh reality of the situation and has taken the easy way out by not trying to gain the public’s understanding. The government should abandon its technological and economic optimism that nuclear power is safe and that the cost of electricity will go down.
◆Desk Memo
 When nuclear power plants are operated, waste is generated. But, since a disposal site has not been decided, the amount of waste is accumulating. It is difficult to manage it. It is also hard to find a place to put it. What should be done is obvious. Stop the nuclear power plants, prevent the increase in waste, and in the meantime, discuss where to dispose of the waste. However, the government has a policy of operating nuclear power plants. The more waste we generate, the more trouble we have to clean up. They are irrationally thinking and acting arbitrarily. The situation is too bad. (Sakaki)

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Disposing of Fukushima waste proving to be an uphill battle

Hisashi Nitta, a farmer in Tome, Miyagi Prefecture, explains about a hut made with pipes, shown at the back of the photo, which stores designated waste, on Dec. 26.

February 13, 2023

Little progress is being made to dispose of waste created after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant’s triple meltdown following the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The meltdowns spread radioactive substances across large areas in northeastern Japan, resulting in what the government calls “designated waste.”

Around 20,000 tons of designated waste is being stored outside Fukushima Prefecture, but disposal has proven difficult.

Local authorities have strongly opposed the central government’s policy that designated waste should be consolidated into one place in each of the local authorities’ areas and stored there for a long period.

Thus, designated waste has been stored in different locations, including agricultural fields or local authorities’ facilities.

Some have voiced concern, however, that the designated waste could leak outside in the event of a disaster.

The 2011 nuclear accident released radioactive substances into the air. The wind then transported the substances to other areas.

The government later decided that contaminated waste, such as incinerated ash or rice straw, were designated waste if their radioactivity concentration exceeded 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.

After the 2011 accident, the Environment Ministry set the threshold of 8,000 becquerels per kilogram as the level at which “the safety of workers can be guaranteed in the typical tasks of disposing of radioactive waste.”

The government decided that it is responsible for disposing of the designated waste and has set a basic policy that it will fund and build final disposal facilities.

Its basic policy also says disposing of designated waste will be carried out in the prefectures where it was generated.

Around 407,000 tons of designated waste were stored in 10 prefectures, including Tokyo, as of the end of September 2022, according to the Environment Ministry.

Nine prefectures, including Tokyo, are storing around 25,000 tons of it.

Of those, five prefectures–Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba–have around 22,000 tons.

For these five prefectures, the ministry announced a plan to consolidate and dispose of the designated waste at final disposal facilities, one of which would be built in each of the five prefectures.

By 2015, the ministry chose candidate sites for the final disposal facilities in Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba.

However, it faced fierce opposition from these areas because of concerns about reputational damage.

The ministry was forced to withdraw its selection of the candidate site in Ibaraki. The task of consolidating designated waste is not making progress in the other prefectures either.

Meanwhile, the designated waste’s radioactivity levels have gradually lowered.

The ministry estimated the radioactivity concentration of between 10,333 tons and 11,633 tons of the designated waste exceeded 8,000 becquerels per kilogram in the five prefectures as of fiscal 2016.

This means the radioactivity concentration of more than 40 percent of the designated waste in the five prefectures was estimated to not exceed 8,000 becquerels per kilogram.

Such waste can be disposed of together with ordinary waste if the ministry decides to lift the designation after discussions with local authorities.

However, local authorities are not eager to lift the designation because they will then be responsible for disposing of such waste.

As of the end of September, the ministry had only lifted the designation of around 2,786 tons in the five prefectures.

Meanwhile, in Fukushima Prefecture, where most of the designated waste is stored, such waste with a radioactivity concentration of 100,000 becquerels per kilogram or under has been transported to a final disposal facility in Tomioka.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , | Leave a comment

Japan watchdog OKs new safety rules to extend reactor life

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant sits in coastal towns of both Okuma and Futaba, as seen from the Ukedo fishing port in Namie town, northeastern Japan, on March 2, 2022

February 14, 2023

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese nuclear regulators on Monday approved contentious safety evaluation changes and draft legislation to allow aging reactors to operate longer, in a rare split decision in which one of the five commissioners dissented.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority, responding to a new government policy to scrap the current 60-year operating limit for reactors, adopted a new system in which additional operating extensions can granted every 10 years after 30 years of service. No maximum limit is specified. The authority also adopted a draft revision of the reactor regulation law for approval by parliament.

It’s a major change from the current 40-year operating limit with a possible one-time extension of up to 20 years, a rule that was introduced as part of stricter safety standards adopted after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s Cabinet adopted a plan last Friday to maximize the use of nuclear energy, including accelerating restarts of halted reactors, prolonging the operational life of aging plants and development of next-generation reactors to replace those designated for decommissioning, as Japan struggles to secure a stable energy supply and meet its pledge to reach carbon neutrality by 2050.

One of the authority’s five commissioners, Akira Ishiwatari, a Tohoku University geologist, opposed the changes.

“We are open to revisions (to rules) if changes are clearly to contribute to greater safety for scientific or technical reasons. To me, these changes do not serve either purpose,” Ishiwatari said at Monday’s commission meeting.

Another commissioner, Tomoyuki Sugiyama, deputy chief of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s nuclear safety research center, said he felt the discussion was “rushed” as a result of government pressure and that the regulatory body should have acted more independently.

Authority Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka denied that the watchdog yielded to government pressure and said he believes the new safety system is adequate.

The authority’s task is “to inspect the safety of (aging) reactors no matter how long their operational lifespan is,” he said. “We simply do not issue safety permits for reactors with progressing deterioration.”

Anti-nuclear sentiment and safety concerns rose sharply in Japan after the Fukushima disaster, in which a massive earthquake and tsunami damaged the plant’s cooling system, resulting in the meltdown of three reactors and the release of large amounts of radiation.

The government has been pushing for a return to nuclear power amid worries of energy shortages following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and a global push to reduce greenhouse gases.

While maintaining a 20%-22% target for nuclear energy’s share of the energy mix for 2030, the government previously denied it was considering building new nuclear plants or replacing aged reactors in an apparent attempt to avoid triggering criticism from a wary public.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

High bidding rates for decontamination, etc., with many one-party bidders, the Board of Audit pointed out

An investigation by the Board of Audit has revealed that about half of the decontamination and other bidding projects being conducted by the Ministry of the Environment in the wake of the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station had only one bidder participating, and that the success rate tended to be high. The Board of Audit announced the findings on February 3, 2023.

A decontamination site in Naraha Machi, Fukushima Prefecture, which was opened to the press by the Ministry of the Environment in March 2013. In the foreground is a contaminated water treatment facility, and in the background is a temporary storage area for contaminated soil and other materials packed in sandbags

February 14, 2023
The Ministry of the Environment is in charge of nuclear power plant accident countermeasure projects, such as decontamination, treatment of contaminated waste, and construction of interim storage facilities for soil collected during decontamination, as part of the restoration and reconstruction projects following the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred in March 2011. The total amount of the government budget for these projects amounted to 5.16 trillion yen through FY 2009.

 Article 44 of the Special Measures Law stipulates that TEPCO will ultimately bear the costs of nuclear accident countermeasure projects as compensation, with some exceptions. According to the Ministry of the Environment, TEPCO has already compensated 3.1699 trillion yen, about 80% of the 4.209 trillion yen claimed as of the end of December 2010. Although government funds are not the final source of funds, they are subject to inspection by the Board of Inquiry.

 At the request of the upper house of the Diet, the inspection office investigated the bids and contract amounts at the time of the order, mainly for nuclear power plant accident countermeasure projects with initial contract amounts totaling 1.854 trillion yen that were ordered by the Ministry of the Environment between April 2004 and September 2009. The decontamination projects, which are divided into those directly under the Ministry of the Environment and those ordered by local governments, mainly covered the former.

The bidding rate for the first project increased by more than 10 percentage points.

 Among the projects covered by the survey, the National Audit Office examined the participation and success rates for 735 general competitive bids for construction and operations by the Ministry of the Environment’s Fukushima Regional Environment Office.

 In terms of bidding participation, 49.3% of the bids were “one-party bids,” with only one participant; the percentage of one-party bids was particularly high for bids for construction consultant services, at 62.1%. The percentage was relatively low at 29.5% for construction bids involving decontamination work.

 The Ministry of the Environment (MOE) was urged to ensure competition in order to reduce the bidding ratio, given the difference of more than 10 percentage points between single and multiple bids: 94.6% for single bids and 81.3% for multiple bids.

The difference in the winning bid rate was relatively small for construction work, at 97.5% for single bidders versus 91.9% for multiple bidders. On the other hand, for construction consultant services, the winning bid rate jumped from 78% for multiple bidders to 94.4% for one bidder.

February 19, 2023 Posted by | Fuk 2023 | , | Leave a comment

Post-war Ukraine – a triumphal land owned by Western business corporations.

tough neoliberal policies to be imposed on post-war Ukraine, with calls for cutting labour laws , “opening markets”, lowering tariffs, deregulating industries and “selling state-owned enterprises to private investors”.

Zelensky invited foreign companies to come and exploit its abundant resources and cheap labour and offered Wall Street “a chance to invest … in projects worth hundreds of billions of dollars”.

Along with the nature of the arms being supplied, so have the objectives changed, at least the stated ones. We started, so it seems, to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian invasion, then we began talking about a “Ukrainian victory” to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia that would leave it “weakened”, with the fall of the Putin government. We have now reached the point that a former Polish foreign minister, currently a MEP, organised a meeting in the European Parliament on January 31, 2023 to “discuss the prospects for decolonisation and de-imperialisation of the Russian Federation” (i.e., the dissolution of the Russian Federation).

Great Expectations: The Ukraine to come, By Stefania Fusero, New Cold War, Feb 13, 2023:

Originally published in Italian on La Citta FuturàFeb 11, 2023:

The collective West, increasingly becoming more directly involved in the conflict in Ukraine, has been vague about the objectives of its participation in the war and has repeatedly contradicted itself on the nature and number of weapons to be sent to Ukraine. From another standpoint, however, it has maintained clarity and constancy over time: the total dedication to a neoliberal project for a Ukraine open to Western corporations in which workers have no guardianship or protection.

The Western powers – the USA, NATO and the EU – have maintained a linear, unequivocal and steady standpoint on the management of the conflict in Ukraine, if not a vocal partisan support for one of the parties involved (the post-Maidan Ukrainian government), the demonisation of the Russian Federation and a disdainful rejection of the ancient art of diplomacy.

While French president Macron, a week after the entry of Russian troops into Ukraine stated, “we are not at war against Russia”, after less than a year the German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock declared in front of the EU parliamentarians “we are fighting a war against Russia.” On the other hand, if at the beginning of the Russian military operations Biden pledged to avoid a direct conflict between the US and Russia, US intelligence officials have recently revealed that not only have the CIA and US special forces been conducting clandestine military operations in Ukraine, but that the CIA, together with a spy agency of another NATO country, is engaged in sabotage operations within the Russian Federation itself.

Not to mention the escalation in arms shipments to Ukraine by Western countries – the most striking example is certainly Germany, which at the beginning of the conflict reluctantly announced that it would just send helmets and a field hospital, then, amid the indignation expressed by various allied countries and subjected to ever stronger pressure, after less than a year announced it would send tanks, no less. Thus, in a few months, Germany reneged on the principles of foreign policy pursued after the defeat of Nazism, one of which required Germany not to send weapons to any conflict zones, a policy which can be summed up in the German pledge ‘never again’. Which amounts to a complete reversal of the policy of peaceful coexistence with Russia and Eastern Europe pursued by such statesmen as Willy Brandt, having major implications for the entire European continent, not just Germany.

Just a few years have passed – but it feels like centuries – since, on 7 May 2015, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier solemnly celebrated in Volgograd the 70th anniversary of the end of WW2. “Here in Stalingrad, these people brought about the first decisive turnaround in the war. Here in Stalingrad, these people began Europe’s liberation from Nazi dictatorship. In doing so, they made immeasurable sacrifices. As a German, I bow before these victims in sorrow. And I ask for forgiveness for the infinite suffering that Germans inflicted on others in the name of Germany, here in this city, all over Russia, in the parts of the then Soviet Union that are now Ukraine and Belarus, and all over Europe…”.

No one has described such escalation better than former Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov as of October last year. “When I was in D.C. in November, before the invasion, and asked for Stingers, they told me it was impossible. Now it’s possible. When I asked for 155mm guns, the answer was no. HIMARS, no. HARM, no. Now all of that is a yes. Therefore, I’m certain that tomorrow there will be tanks and ATACMS and F-16s.”

Along with the nature of the arms being supplied, so have the objectives changed, at least the stated ones. We started, so it seems, to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian invasion, then we began talking about a “Ukrainian victory” to inflict a “strategic defeat” on Russia that would leave it “weakened”, with the fall of the Putin government. We have now reached the point that a former Polish foreign minister, currently a MEP, organised a meeting in the European Parliament on January 31, 2023 to “discuss the prospects for decolonisation and de-imperialisation of the Russian Federation” (i.e., the dissolution of the Russian Federation).

On the other hand, it is not the first time that a plan to dismantle the Russian Federation has been openly talked of, under the guise of an improbable anti-imperialist struggle – see for example a conference organised on June 23, 2022 in Washington by the CSCE, a US government agency otherwise known as the Helsinki Commission. If anything, such initiatives can now be officially held at the institutional seat of the EU parliament.

Whereas the trajectory of Western military involvement in the Ukraine conflict has apparently been confused and cobbled together, the stance on the economic, social and political future of Ukraine has instead remained clear and constant over time.

The table is laid

4-5 July 2022, Lugano: Ukraine Recovery Conference.

Representatives of Western governments and corporations (US, EU, UK, Japan and South Korea) met in Switzerland to plan a series of tough neoliberal policies to be imposed on post-war Ukraine, with calls for cutting labour laws , “opening markets”, lowering tariffs, deregulating industries and “selling state-owned enterprises to private investors”. The URC (Conference on the Recovery of Ukraine) was not a novel initiative, but a continuation of the “Conference on the Reform of Ukraine”(URC) started in 2017. Same acronym, same spirit, i.e., to urge “strengthening market economy”, “decentralisation, privatisation, state enterprise reform, land reform, state administration reform” and “Euro-Atlantic integration”.

September 6, 2022: Volodymyr Zelensky virtually opens the New York Stock Exchange by symbolically ringing the bell via video streaming.

On the same day he had an editorial in the Wall Street Journal in which he launched the neoliberal ‘Advantage Ukraine’ program.  Zelensky invited foreign companies to come and exploit its abundant resources and cheap labour and offered Wall Street “a chance to invest … in projects worth hundreds of billions of dollars”.

January 23, 2023: Zelensky delivers a video speech to the US National Association of State Chambers of Commerce meeting at Boca Raton, Florida, entitled After the War, American Business Can Become a Locomotive of Global Economic Growth.

A transcript of the speech is published on the institutional website of the Ukrainian presidency: “And – when we’ll be able to end this war by throwing out the occupiers – in the same manner together we’ll be able to start the difficult work of rebuilding Ukraine – our cities, our economy, our infrastructure. It is already clear that this will be the largest economic project of our time in Europe. It is obvious that American business can become the locomotive that will once again push forward global economic growth.

We have already managed to attract attention and have cooperation with such giants of the international financial and investment world such as Black Rock, J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs. Such American brands as Starlink or Westinghouse have already become part of our, Ukrainian, way… And everyone can become a great business by working with Ukraine. In all sectors -from weapons and defence to construction, from communications to agriculture, from transport to IT, from banks to medicine.”

Disaster capitalism

As to now, no one is able to predict what will remain of Ukraine at the end of the war, but the project of the Western actors involved is very clear and has already begun to be put into practice.

Ukraine was already the poorest country in Europe and if, like all the others in the former Soviet Union, it suffered from the brutal shock therapy* that had turned them into market economies, the neoliberal shock therapy imposed was not as devastating to Ukraine as it was to Russia. And there are still some state-owned assets in Ukraine to appeal to Western corporations. Last August Zelensky effectively eliminated the right to collective bargaining and union representation for the majority of Ukrainian workers, thus making them even poorer.

As economist Michael Hudson argues, Ukraine may well be the poorest country in Europe, but it is so for 99% of citizens; for the remaining 1% – the corrupt kleptocrats of the most corrupt country in Europe – it will instead become the richest country. And of course, the invitation to exploit the country’s riches is being extended to investors on the New York Stock Exchange. “Come on in and join the party! Someone’s loss is turned into somebody else’s gain. And that’s what happens in a class war. It’s a zero-sum game. There is no attempt at all to raise living standards.”

Class war has long been declared on the lower classes in the entire collective West, not just in Ukraine, suffice it to recall what French President Macron said last August: “What we are currently living through is a kind of major tipping point or a great upheaval…we are living the end of what could have seemed an era of abundance…”

Professor Michael Hudson comments: “When he said the ‘end of abundance’, what he really meant was the beginning of an IMF austerity program applied to Europe. And the end of the abundance for the 90% is a bonanza of abundance for the 1%, for the financial sector. They’re making huge, huge gains in all of this… Austerity for the population means we’re now going to put the class war in business here…It’s lower wages, enabling higher profit opportunities for the companies. It’s going to be the end of abundance for wage earners, but it’ll be a bonanza for the monopoly owners and for the banks.”

It is class warfare in Europe and the USA, but in Ukraine it is simultaneously a vicious, cynical proxy war that has been mercilessly shredding hapless Ukrainians into cannon fodder.

* the so-called shock therapy was inaugurated in Pinochet’s Chile, then it was implemented in Russia and in the other USSR countries after the end of the Soviet Union to turn them into market economies. Prices were liberalised while eliminating any social guarantees for citizens, causing an increase in excess mortality and a decrease in life expectancy, together with growing economic inequality, corruption and poverty. Assets and companies were sold out at bargain prices to local and foreign speculators who became enormously rich, while the social fabric unravelled causing an exponential increase in disease, suicide and crime. 


Mission Creep? How the US role in Ukraine has slowly escalated,
Branko Marcetic in Responsible Statecraft, 23 Jan 2023

The dissolution of the Russian Federation is far less dangerous than leaving it ruled by criminals, Anna Fotyga, 27 Jan 2023

German tanks in the Ukraine. Again (Maria Zakharova, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman)

German tanks in the Ukraine. Again (Maria Zakharova, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman)

Speech by Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Volgograd to commemorate the end of the Second World War 70 years ago, Federal Foreign Office 7 May 2015

Decolonizing Russia – a moral and strategic imperative, CSCE 23 June 2022

President of Ukraine’s address to the participants of the meeting of the National Association of State Chambers, President of Ukraine 23 Jan 2023

West prepares to plunder post-war Ukraine with neoliberal shock therapy: privatization, deregulation, slashing worker protections, Ben Norton in Geopolitical Economy, 28 July 2022

Zelensky is literally selling Ukraine to US corporations on Wall Street, Ben Norton in Geopolitical Economy, 9 Sept 2022

Ukraine’s Zelensky sends love letter to US corporations, promising ‘big business’ for Wall Street, Ben Norton in Geopolitical Economy, 25 Jan 2023

Economist Michael Hudson on debt relief, inflation, Ukraine disaster capitalism, petrodollar crisis, Ben Norton in Geopolitical Economy, 8 Sept 2022

February 19, 2023 Posted by | politics international, Ukraine | 1 Comment

EU Commission abandons plans to sanction Russia’s nuclear industry.

EU Commission scratches Russia nuclear sanctions plans

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy had urged the EU to sanction Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear energy company.

The European Commission has abandoned plans to sanction Russia’s nuclear sector or its representatives in its next sanctions package, three diplomats told POLITICO on Thursday.

The EU executive initially told EU countries that it would try to draw up sanctions targeting Russia’s civil nuclear sector. And, ahead of a meeting of EU leaders last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the bloc at least to issue sanctions against Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom.

But that plan has failed, the three diplomats said, pointing to the latest sanctions drafts.

The EU’s sanctions packages are divided into multiple parts: New rules that target specific sectors, such as aviation or military, and lists that impose visa restrictions and asset freezes on individuals and companies — but none include the nuclear sector, according to drafts seen by POLITICO and EU diplomats who spoke on condition of anonymity……………

France has also expressed prudence, with a French economy ministry official telling reporters earlier this week that “many nuclear power plants use fuel of Russian energy.”…………………

February 19, 2023 Posted by | EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

What We Know About The US Air Force’s Balloon Party So Far Caitlin Johnstone, 18 Feb 23

You know, everyone’s always talking about how the US military is only ever used to kill foreigners for resource control and generate profits for the military-industrial complex, but that’s not entirely true. Turns out the US military is also used for shooting down party balloons.

In an article titled “Object downed by US missile may have been amateur hobbyists’ $12 balloon,” The Guardian’s Richard Luscombe reports the following:

The Northern Illinois Bottlecap Balloon Brigade says one of its hobby craft went “missing in action” over Alaska on 11 February, the same day a US F-22 jet downed an unidentified airborne entity not far away above Canada’s Yukon territory.

In a blogpost, the group did not link the two events. But the trajectory of the pico balloon before its last recorded electronic check-in at 12.48am that day suggests a connection — as well as a fiery demise at the hands of a sidewinder missile on the 124th day of its journey, three days before it was set to complete its seventh circumnavigation.

If that is what happened, it would mean the US military expended a missile costing $439,000 (£365,000) to fell an innocuous hobby balloon worth about $12 (£10).

“The descriptions of all three unidentified objects shot down Feb. 10–12 match the shapes, altitudes and payloads of the small pico balloons, which can usually be purchased for $12–180 each, depending on the type,” writes Steve Trimble for Aviation Week, who first broke the Bottlecap Balloon Brigade story.

This information would put a bit of a wobble on Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s comments to ABC’s This Week on Sunday that all three of the balloons shot down through the weekend were Chinese surveillance devices, saying “the Chinese were humiliated” by the US catching them in their sinister espionage plot. If the US air force did in fact just spent millions of dollars shooting down American party balloons, it wouldn’t be the Chinese who are humiliated.

And it looks like that is indeed what happened. On Tuesday the National Security Council’s John Kirby said the “leading explanation” for the three unidentified flying objects that were shot down is that they were “balloons tied to some commercial or benign purpose.” On Thursday President Biden told the press that “The intelligence community’s current assessment is that these three objects were most likely balloons tied to private companies, recreation, or research institutions studying weather or conducting other scientific research.”

And this all comes out after US officials told The Washington Post that the “Chinese spy balloon” which started this historically unprecedented multi-day frenzy of aerial kinetic warfare over North America was probably never intended for surveillance of the United States at all. Experts assess that the balloon was blown over the continent entirely by accident, trying to reconcile that narrative with the contradictory US government claims of intentional Chinese espionage by suggesting that perhaps the Chinese had intended for the balloon to be used for spying on US military forces in the Pacific or something.

So to recap, the US air force shot down a Chinese balloon which US officials have subsequently admitted was only blown over the US by accident, then went on a spree of shooting things out of the sky which it turns out were probably civilian party balloons. The entire American political/media class has been spending the month of February furiously demanding more militarism and more cold war escalations over what is in all probability four harmless balloons.

And what’s really crazy is that they’re probably going to get those increases in militarism and cold war escalations they’ve been calling for, despite the entire ordeal originating primarily in the overactive imaginations of the drivers of the US empire. The shrieking hysterical panic about “Chinese spy balloons” has dwarfed the coverage of the revelations contradicting that narrative, and China hawks have been using the occasion to argue for increases in military spending. The Atlantic’s Richard Fontaine got all excited and wrote a whole article about how the threat of Chinese spy balloons can be used “to rally public concern and build international solidarity” against China.

These are the people who rule our world. They are not wise. They are not insightful. They are not even particularly intelligent. The US empire is a Yosemite Sam cartoon character who at any time can just flip out and start firing Sidewinder missiles at random pieces of junk in the sky, screaming “I’ll blast yer head off ya varmint!” If the US war machine was a civilian human, their family would be quietly talking amongst themselves about the possibility of conservatorship.

These are the last people in the world who should be running things, and they are the last people in the world who should be armed with nuclear weapons. But that’s exactly where we find ourselves in this bizarre slice of spacetime. God help us all.


February 19, 2023 Posted by | incidents, spinbuster, USA | 1 Comment