nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

In remote Asia, solar power is transforming the lives of women

Climate News Network 1st Aug 2017, A solar revolution is transforming the lives of women in the remotest parts of Asia. They no longer have to wait decades to be connected to a power grid but are able today to exploit the huge potential of the abundant sunshine.

In societies where women normally play a subservient role and spend much of their time on menial chores, solar businesses are creating a new breed of female entrepreneur who are bringing electricity to their villages.

In the last two years two schemes designed to encourage women to bring the solar revolution to parts of rural India and Nepal have won international Ashden Awards, which bring the organisations involved
£20,000 (US$26,360) each in prize money and a lot of guidance to improve
and extend their businesses. http://climatenewsnetwork.net/women-take-control-solar-revolution/

August 4, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, social effects, women | Leave a comment

The nuclear industry and endlesss growth in energy use – theme for June 2017

The nuclear lobby boasts about meeting the planet’s ever-growing need for electricity. “Innovation” is the catch phrase – supposed to be always beneficial. Well, yes, – much innovative technology is beneficial: much of it takes over arduous and monotonous work, much of it increases safety, much of it actually reduces energy use.

But not all new technology is actually beneficial, and some of it increases energy use.

Take, for example, the use of robots .  Power is used in the mining and manufacture of materials (steel, cast ironand aluminum) to make robots.  Electricity is needed for their function, for maintenance and repair. Eventually robots become wastes, like all obsolete machines, energy again used in discarding them..

Leaving aside that major argument about jobs, let’s examine, as an example,  the use of robots in health and social care. Already used in Japan, and Europe, robots provide some nursing services and  “elderly social care” that assists old people at home or in nursing homes.   Some robots, such as Japan’s “Nadine” (below) have been made “personal”. Sounds great, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

BUT – I assert here, (yes, you’re right- I don’t have any evidence) that old people, (like all people) need that human touch, that human interaction, and robots simply do not meet that need. And then, there’s the robot baby-sitter. Same thing.

So – these are examples of robots, with deeply unsatisfying results, using up electricity, that take away jobs that many workers find satisfying.

With society’s problems of increasing obesity and lack of exercise, there is surely a question about jobs, that humans do well and enjoy, and in which human energy is expended, but which are taken over by electricity-guzzling robots.

The new nukes lobby bleats about being part of an “innovation revolution”. But “innovation” is not in itself necessarily good –   not if it just means de-skilling people, increasing energy use, just in order to increase business profits.

June 4, 2017 Posted by | Christina's themes, social effects | 3 Comments

The devastating social and mental health legacies of atomic bomb testing

The worst effects of our nuclear programme are the ones that nobody talks about http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/nuclear-war-threat-weapons-us-north-korea-russia-nuclear-testing-worst-thing-a7739131.html  Between 1946-1996, more than 2,000 nuclear weapons tests were conducted by the US, UK, Soviet Union, France and China. Most of these took place in locations selected on the basis of colonial history, and in lands belonging to indigenous peoples Beyza Unal , 16 May 17  A quarter of a century after the end of the Cold War, interest in nuclear weapons has revived, not reduced. But still a taboo surrounds our nuclear legacy. For all the debate over the tensions between the United States and North Korea, a taboo still surrounds the lingering impacts of nuclear weapons testing and fears for their future use in conflict.

Our latest research looked not only at the implications of a potential future nuclear conflict, but also the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons testing for more than seven decades.

Between 1946-1996, more than 2,000 nuclear weapons tests were conducted by the US, UK, Soviet Union, France and China. Most of these took place in locations selected on the basis of colonial history, and in lands belonging to indigenous peoples. And the impacts were severe.

  • As well as devastating costs to their health and environment, many affected communities still live with the social, cultural and economic consequences of these tests. Subjected to forced displacement, they lost their land and connection to that land forever. Many were prevented from pursuing their traditional livelihoods. Not everyone was compensated, and those affected reported a lack of official accountability.Nuclear tests have adversely impacted mental health, by fostering climate of fear over radiological exposure in test locations, and through the creation culture of social stigma and discrimination.
  • One of the less tangible legacies of nuclear tests has been a sense of humiliation and alienation from society. This was seen following the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when hibakusha women – survivors of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki – faced marriage discrimination, but it echoed at testing sites. As a UNIDIR study noted, women from the Marshall islands suffered “humiliating” examinations by US military medical and scientific personnel as a result of the American nuclear weapons testing programme until 1958.
  • oday, the potential use of nuclear weapons, deliberate or accidental,  represents a great risk to humanity. Two decades on from its inception, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) – an agreement to ban all types of nuclear detonations, including atmospheric, underground, space and underwater tests – has still not entered into force. The international nuclear order is in peril: the US and Russia have increased investment in nuclear modernisation; North Korea has conducted five tests in the past decade and has the will to continue, regardless of sanctions or threats of action.Nuclear testing is part of weapons research and development: several steps ahead of a test is the decision to be ready, in principle, to use a nuclear weapon. There is an important connection between the widely-supported comprehensive ban on nuclear testing, and attempts to ban nuclear weapons altogether. A ban on testing has been pursued largely due to unacceptable effects on human life and the environment; precisely the same concerns drive current efforts to prohibit nuclear weapons.
  • Last week, the British and Australian governments announced healthcare aid for the indigenous communities who were exposed to radiation as a result of British nuclear tests 50 years ago. In a personal interview with us last year, Sue-Coleman Haseldine, a first-generation nuclear test survivor in Australia,  told us the only possible compensation to her community would be “a world free of nuclear weapons”.It’s time to start talking about the long-lasting effects of nuclear weapons. After all, unless we do, the nuclear taboo will only exist until a devastating detonation occurs somewhere in the world.

    Dr Beyza Unal is a research fellow in nuclear weapons policy at Chatham House

May 17, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, psychology - mental health, social effects, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear power and the collapse of society

 http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/news/Blogs/makingwaves/nuclear-weapons-power-Chernobyl-Fukushima-danger/blog/59326/  by Rex Weyler, 5 May 17,  On March 1 1954, on Bikini Atoll, in the Marshall Islands, the US military detonated the world’s first lithium-deuteride hydrogen bomb, a thousand times more powerful than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs. The radiation blew downwind, to the southeast, and irradiated the residents of Rongelap and Utirik atolls, and the crew of tuna boat Fukuryu Maru, “Lucky Dragon.”  

The islanders and fishing crew suffered radiation sickness, hair loss, and peeling skin. Crew member, Aikichi Kuboyama, died six months later in a Hiroshima hospital. Island children, suffered lifelong health effects, including cancers, and most died prematurely. The Lucky Dragon sailors were exposed to 3-5 sieverts of radiation.

One sievert will cause severe radiation sickness leading to cancer and death. Five sieverts will kill half those exposed within a month (like the workers who died at Chernobyl within the first few week). Ten sieverts will kill any human being. Hiroshima and Nagasaki victims received 150 Sieverts. Even microorganisms perished.

Today, inside the crippled Fukushima nuclear reactor-2, the melting core releases 530 sieverts per hour, enough to kill a human instantly and melt steel robotic equipment within two hours.

The meaning of “collapse”

When we hear the term “collapse of industrial society,” some may picture a doomsday or a Hollywood apocalypse film. But the collapse of societies – like in Rome, Mesopotamia, or the Rapa Nui on Easter Island – doesn’t work like that. The “collapse” of a complex society usually involves ecological habitat degradation that can take centuries. So, what does “social collapse” really look like?

James Kunstler calls the collapse of industrial society a “long emergency” – a process that unfolds in fits and starts over generations. Some social conflicts we witness in the world today – banking crises, war, refugees, racism – can be understood as symptoms of this long, ecologically-triggered collapse. Russian author Dmitry Orlov describes the five stages of collapse: Financial, commercial, political, social, and, finally, cultural. When business-as-usual becomes impossible, communities seek alternatives to currency trading; markets fail, faith in government disappears, trust of neighbours erodes, and people lose faith in common decency.

Dr. Joseph Tainter, professor of Environment and Society at Utah State University describes collapse as a “simplification” of society, a reversal of the process by which the society became increasingly complex. “To understand collapse,” he explains, “we have to understand complexity.”

Societies evolve complex solutions to solve social problems that arise, generally from environmental limits. Eventually, the marginal benefits of these alleged solutions decline. Consider oil, military aggression, or nuclear power as solutions to problems, that later manifest unintended consequences. As technical solutions meet bio-physical limits, added investment leads to less benefit, until the society grows vulnerable to catastrophe, such as global warming, war, or radiation.

Societies collapse, according to Tainter, when technical complexities cost more than they return as benefits. This understanding of social collapse fits the state of chaos now unfolding at the nuclear plant at Fukushima.

Socialise the cost

TEPCO, the company that owns the Fukushima reactors, ignored early warnings of risk, from both inside and outside the company, because the safeguards were too expensive. Thus, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami destroyed the plant’s cooling systems and led to a core meltdown in all three reactors.

Today, six years later, the reactor cores are melting down through the rock, and radiation levels are so intense that even robots can’t survive long enough to locate the burning fuel rods. Removal of the rods, originally scheduled for 2015, then delayed until 2017, has been delayed again, with no end in sight. Meanwhile, 300 tons of radioactive water floods into the Pacific Ocean every day.

Cleanup cost estimates have risen to several billion Euros per year and decommissioning is now expected to take about 40 years. In December, 2016, the Japanese government announced that the estimated cost of decommissioning the plant and storing radioactive waste, if they can achieve this at all, would reach over 21 trillion yen (€180 billion; US$ 200 billion). This scenario is based on no major earthquakes occurring before the 2050s.

TEPCO will likely go bankrupt before it will pay these costs, so the government has stepped in, which means the citizens pay the costs, just as they bailed out the banks after the last economic collapse. This is a core policy for large, modern corporations: Privatise the profits, socialise the costs.

The nuclear “solution” to growing energy demand – now a massive technical and financial black hole, with negative marginal returns, draining scarce resources from struggling communities – is what industrial collapse looks like in the real world.

The victims

The wealthy may not notice collapse in the early stages, as the first victims are the poorest and most vulnerable. The nuclear meltdown at Fukushima displaced over 150,000 people. Some 1,600 died during evacuation, and the survivors live in makeshift camps on meagre allotments of food and supplies. As families abandoned their homes, lifelong dreams shattered, childhoods were disrupted, families broke apart, and modest enterprises lost forever.

Women and children suffered the greatest challenges and risks due to “a yawning gender gap” in Japanese society, as Kendra Ulrich writes in “Unequal Impact.” Among the 34 highly developed countries, ranked for gender wage gap, Japan stands at the bottom with South Korea and Estonia. After the nuclear meltdown, single mothers faced financial and social barriers to recovery. Radiation puts fetuses and young children at the greatest risk for future health effects.

Last year, Ichiro Tagawa, 77, returned to his village of Namie and reopened the bicycle repair shop that had been in his family for 80 years. “I am so old,” he told a New York Times reporter, “I don’t really care about the radiation levels.” Citizens have measured radiation in Namie at 4 microsieverts an hour, enough to receive a cumulative 3-sieverts (Lucky Dragon level) in a month.

To save money, the Japanese government has declared some towns near Fukushima “safe,” by increasing the radiation limits and then cancelling evacuee housing and insisting that citizens return to those “safe” villages. Sending people back to that environment could amount to random murder, since some will attract cancer and die from the radiation.

Corruption and cover-up have become a way of life inside TEPCO and the nuclear industry. The Japanese government and TEPCO also increased “safe” radiation limits for plant workers by about 700-times, and then ordered scientists to stop monitoring radiation levels in some areas of the plants that exceed even these new, dangerous regulations. According to Tomohiko Suzuki’s book, Yakuza to Genpatsu (The Yakuza and Nuclear Power), TEPCO subcontractors pay bribes to Japanese crime gangs, the Yakuza, to obtain construction contracts, and the Yakuza pay politicians and media to keep quiet. Workers lured into the plant include the homeless, the mentally ill, illegal immigrants, and former Yakuza debtors.

The deadly industry

The story of how nuclear generated power came to be starts in the 1950s. After WWII, the US, UK, France, Russia, and China set out to build arsenals, but required more plutonium than could be furnished by their respective military programs. A US Atomic Energy Commission study concluded that commercial nuclear reactors for power were not economically feasible because of costs and risks. Dr. Charles Thomas, an executive at Monsanto, suggested a solution: A “dual purpose” reactor that would produce plutonium for the military and electric power for commercial use.

Companies profited from these dual markets, while leaving the public to assume responsibility for research, infrastructure, and risk: Privatise the profits, socialise the costs. The real purpose of a “nuclear power” industry was to provide plutonium for weapons and profit for a few corporations.

This deadly industry has now left dead zones and ghost towns around the world. The Hanford nuclear storage site in the US, Acerinox Processing Plant in Spain, The Polygon weapons test site in Kazakhstan, the Zapadnyi uranium mine in Kyrgyzstan, and countless other uranium mines, decommissioned plants, nuclear waste dumps, and catastrophes like Fukushima and Chernobyl.

No one knows exactly how many people have died due to the Chernobyl meltdown. The Russian academy of sciences estimates 200,000 and a Ukrainian national commission estimated 500,000 deaths from radiation’s health effects.

In 1983, a Yorkshire television station uncovered evidence that child leukemia had increased ten-times in the village of Seascale, near the Sellafield/Windscale nuclear site. It has become a deadly radioactive blotch on the landscape, leaking radioactive plutonium-24, americium-241, and caesium-137 into the surrounding environment, and sending bomb grade plutonium into the world’s political environment. According to the BBC, the cost of cleaning up the mess is now estimated at £70-billion, and rising annually, as one corporation or consortium after another fails to make progress, but always makes money. These cleanup costs now consume most of the UK’s “climate change” budget since nuclear power was once considered a solution to carbon emissions.

In February, the EDF Flamanville nuclear plant in France – three-times over budget and years behind schedule – closed after an explosion and fire. France faces a €200 billion cost to decommission 58 reactors at the end of their life. Germany set aside €38 billion to decommission 17 nuclear reactors, and the UK estimates a cost between €109‒250 billion to decommission UK’s nuclear sites.

This is the face of industrial collapse, when alleged solutions become bigger problems. Nuclear power has now become a massive liability, draining resources from communities that need schools, hospitals, and the essentials of life. Joseph Tainter, Jared Diamond, and other researchers point out that some societies – Tikopia island, Byzantine society in the 1300s – avoided collapse, not by increasing complexity with better technology, but by down-sizing intentionally, learning to thrive on a lower level of complexity.

This is now the challenge of industrial society. Can we, and especially the rich and powerful, change our habits of consumption and growth? Can we come back to Earth?


 References and Links

James Kunstler: “The Long Emergency

Joseph Tainter, the Collapse of Complex Societies: Book and Lecture online:

The Dynamics of Complex Civilisations, David Korowicz, Oil Drum, 2010

Gail Tverberg: Energy Flow, Emergent Complexity, and Collapse, Oil Drum

“The Collapse of Civilization,” New Scientist, April, 2008

  • “Les civilisations sont-elles vouées à disparaître?”: Les Cahiers de Science & Vie, (n. 109).

    Jared Diamond: “Ecological Collapses of Pre-industrial Societies,” Tanner Lecture, University of Utah, 2000

    “Culture and the Environment on Easter Island and Tikopia,” Ben Ewen-Campen, Swarthmore, 2003).

    “Nuclear refugees tell of distrust, pressure to return to Fukushima,” Japan Times, March, 2016.

    Tomohiko Suzuki, “Yakuza to genpatsu: Fukushima Daiichi sennyuki,” The Yakuza and Nuclear Power: Undercover Report from Fukushima Daiichi), Bungeishunju Ltd., Japan

    “Energy/War: Breaking the Nuclear Link,” Amory Lovins, 1981; and Annual Report, Commonwealth Edison Company, 1952; at Nuclear Energy Information Service.

    Sellafield, UK, £70bn clean-up costs, BBC, 2014.

    Nuclear Power as a false solution, Rex Weyler, Deep Green: Atomic Renaissance Interrupted, R. Weyler, Deep Green, 2008. Nuclear Delusions, R. Weyler, Deep Green, 2011. Precaution and Common Sense, R. Weyler, EcoReport, 2013

May 6, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, social effects | Leave a comment

Palisades nuclear plant closure is a disruption for local community

Great Lakes community contemplates nuclear plant closure, Marketplace, By May 01, 2017 “…….some residents are happy to see the plant go. Palisades is one of the oldest nuclear plants in the country and has had several emergency shutdowns.

May 3, 2017 Posted by | social effects, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power, once the “golden goose” for small towns – now a liability

Ripples from US nuclear plant closings overwhelm small towns, Star Tribune, By JOHN SEEWER Associated Press  MARCH 26, 2017     “……..For the small, mostly rural towns that are home to 61 U.S. nuclear plants that produce one-fifth of the nation’s electricity, each one has been like the golden goose supplying high-paying jobs and money for roads, police and libraries.

But those same places and their residents are bracing for what may come next due to the soaring costs of running aging reactors that have speeded up the closings of a handful of sites and are threatening at least a dozen more. That’s because once the power stops flowing, so does the money.

Towns that already have seen nuclear plants shuttered are now dealing with higher property taxes, cuts in services and less school funding — a new reality that may linger for decades.

In Wisconsin, the tiny town of Carlton saw the source of roughly 70 percent of its yearly budget disappear when the Kewaunee nuclear power plant closed four years ago. That resulted in the first town tax in its history.

“Financially, we benefited, but now we’re going to pay the price for the next 40 years,” said David Hardtke, the town chairman.

When operations ceased at the Crystal River Nuclear Plant along Florida’s Gulf Coast, “it was like something going through and wiping out a third of your county,” said Citrus County Administrator Randy Oliver.

To make up the difference, property tax rates went up by 31 percent and 100 county workers were let go — so many that Oliver worries there won’t be enough to evacuate residents and clear roads if a major tropical storm hits.

While the nation’s fleet of nuclear power plants wasn’t designed to last forever, closures are happening earlier than expected because repair costs are astronomical and it’s harder to compete with cheaper natural gas-fired plants and renewable energy sources.

The former head of the nuclear industry’s trade group said last year that economic pressures have put 15 to 20 plants at risk of a premature shutdown.

FirstEnergy Corp. will decide by next year whether to close or sell its plant in Pennsylvania and two in Ohio, including Davis-Besse, unless the states change regulations to make them more competitive……… New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., owner of the Palisades nuclear plant in Michigan, announced plans late last year to close in 2018 even though it has a license to keep operating another 14 years…….

what makes recovering tough is that almost all nuclear plants are in out of the way places that have become heavily reliant on them. And they employ specialized workers who are quick to leave for still-operating locations.

To make matters worse, many closed sites can’t be redeveloped for new uses because they’re still storing radioactive waste…….

“We have become a de facto nuclear waste dump. It just sits there, and sits there forever,” said Al Hill, the mayor in Zion, Illinois, where spent nuclear fuel remains stored on prime property along Lake Michigan even though the plant shut down 20 years ago.

On top of that, the closing took away half of the city’s tax base and pushed property taxes to the highest in the state, making it difficult to lure new businesses, Hill said……

It’s had a devastating effect on this town,”  “It’s terrible. Any town with a nuclear power plant in it or near it is in danger of suffering the same fate.” http://www.startribune.com/ripples-from-us-nuclear-plant-closings-overwhelm-small-towns/417116223/

March 27, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, social effects, USA | 1 Comment

Nuclear industry’s legacy – stranded wastes, safety fears, collapsing communities

highly-recommendedAs nuclear plants age, risks rise, telegram.com Christine Legere, Dec 4, 2016

December 7, 2016 Posted by | employment, safety, social effects, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

The need to support a community when a nuclear power station closes

October 3, 2016 Posted by | social effects, USA | Leave a comment

Fukushima’s dead zone: the abandoned towns

five years on, an area 12 miles around the plant remains a dead zone, abandoned and uninhabited.

wastes-bags-Fukushima-14At intervals beside the roads, heaped up in huge piles, lie half a million black plastic bags containing radioactive topsoil, scraped off the surface of the land in an effort to persuade farmers to start work here again.

Some of the dead zone will never return to life. Futaba, the closest town to the plant, will probably be turned into a radioactive waste dump.

thousands of workers are now being bussed in to the cleanup effort at the power station, the radioactive fuel rods which melted down are all still there. Even after five years, radiation levels inside the reactor buildings are still too high for workers to enter, making it hard to even plan the task that needs to be done, let alone carry it out.

Fukushima: Inside the dead zone where the legacy of nuclear disaster still rulesFive years since a tsunami led to disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, Andrew Gilligan explores the ghost towns left in its wake, Telegraph UK,  By , in Fukushima, video by Julian Simmonds, additional editing by Charlotte Krol  06 Mar 2016

 On the main shopping street of Japan’s nuclear ghost town, only the grass growing through the tarmac, and the rust on the parked cars, tells you the tsunami and earthquake happened five years ago, not yesterday.
abandoned town Namie

Along the rest of the country’s blasted east coast, the wreckage has been at least cleared away, even if not much has yet been put in its place. But in Futaba, time stopped on the night of 11 March 2011, when those residents who’d survived the giant wave fled, as they thought, for their lives from something even more frightening.

The buildings which collapsed in the earthquake have simply been left – rubble, roof tiles and all. The ceremonial torii gate of the Shinto shrine is lying exactly where it fell, on its side jutting out into the street. But most of the town is physically intact. It was just abandoned, and clearly in a very great hurry…..

As Japan’s prime minister at the time, Nato Kan, told The Telegraph in an interview published on Saturday, the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a disaster requiring the evacuation of 50 million people. What did happen was bad enough. Inside the plant, a skeleton staff – the so-called “Fukushima 50” – battled to avert total catastrophe, reading emergency manuals by torchlight and at one stage asking workers to bring their car batteries to power the crippled cooling systems.

Outside, there was mass panic, with compulsory evacuation for 400,000 local residents and much of the rest of northern Japan cramming roads and railway stations to get out, too. In the end, the worst was avoided, with seawater pumped to cool the reactors and not a single immediate death from radiation exposure.

But five years on, an area 12 miles around the plant remains a dead zone, abandoned and uninhabited. You can still go there. Anyone can drive on the main road, route 6, which runs through it. Even this is an eerie experience. As well as the traffic signs, route 6 has geiger counters above the carriageway, displaying the radiation readout in the same way that others display roadworks information.

Most of the buildings here are wrecked or empty, too: an entire wall of the Segaworld games arcade has been ripped off, showing all the machines still inside. The side turnings, to get into the hearts of the towns, are blocked and mostly guarded, accessible only with passes (or, as we did, by finding an unguarded one and slipping through.)

At intervals beside the roads, heaped up in huge piles, lie half a million black plastic bags containing radioactive topsoil, scraped off the surface of the land in an effort to persuade farmers to start work here again.

Some of the dead zone will never return to life. Futaba, the closest town to the plant, will probably be turned into a radioactive waste dump. But six months ago, a few miles to the south, the authorities declared that Naraha, another town in the evacuation area, was now safe and everyone should come back.

It was hailed as the first stage in the area’s return to normality. Virtually nobody is buying. Before the disaster, Naraha had a population of 7,000. But for now, poisoned as much by mistrust of the government as by radioactivity, the place remains almost as spectral as Futaba.

“Once it’s dark, there’s only about ten houses with lights on,” said Nawasaki Yoshihiro, who was repairing the tsunami damage at his lovely traditional Japanese home opposite Tatsuma railway station. “You see wild boar running about the streets. I’m fixing this up because my parents kept pestering me not to waste the house. But even we are only here until 6 o’clock.”…….

In the station car park, dozens of commuters’ bikes give an appearance of normality. But look closer, and their chains are rusty, their tyres flat. “They have been there since 2011,” says Mr Yoshihiro. “The owners are probably dead.” Up the street, there are lights in a supermarket, a bright plastic sign above the door. But go up to the door, and you realise the place is some sort of government office, not a supermarket at all. It’s the perfect symbol of this nuclear Potemkin village.

Twenty miles further to the south, in the provincial centre of Iwaki, we find the reason why so few want to return. It’s the twice-yearly “update session” for residents of one of the temporary resettlement camps where much of Naraha’s population – and at least 20,000 other people from the radiation area alone – still live, five years on……….

From the audience, Yoshitaka Matsumoto, a local farmer, is politely angry: “You should fight the government, stop them bullying people,” he tells the mayor. Afterwards, he tells us that contamination of the water is people’s main concern. “The water comes from the taps, but it comes from a reservoir which has radioactive mud at the bottom,” he says. “The people who are back in Naraha now, they buy their drinking water from the shop, but they still have to wash in the tapwater.”…….

Though thousands of workers are now being bussed in to the cleanup effort at the power station, the radioactive fuel rods which melted down are all still there. Even after five years, radiation levels inside the reactor buildings are still too high for workers to enter, making it hard to even plan the task that needs to be done, let alone carry it out.

Around 300 to 400 tons of contaminated water is generated every day as groundwater flows into the plant filled with radioactive debris. To contain the tainted water, TEPCO, the plant’s operator pumps up the water and stores it in tanks, adding a new tank every three to four days.

There are now 1,000 tanks, containing 750,000 tons of contaminated water. “If I may put this in terms of mountain climbing, we’ve just passed the first waystation on a mountain of 10 stations,” said Akira Ono, head of the Fukushima plant, last month. The full cleanup, he admitted, may take as long as 40 years.

Back in Futaba, a banner has been erected protesting against the removal of the “nuclear power, our bright future” sign. “Save the sign, remember our folly,” it says. “Preserve it as a negative legacy.”

In truth, in Japan’s radioactive disaster zone, the reminders of the folly and the memorials of the disaster are everywhere inescapable.http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/japan/12182635/Return-to-Fukushima.html

 

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March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Eerie situation at Futaba – abandoned town in Fukushima prefecture

Fukushima: Five years on from nuclear meltdown locals still in the dark about future, ABC News, By Rachel Mealey 6 Mar 16 The town of Futaba lies six kilometres from the Fukushima nuclear power plant.

There is an eerie feeling there. Shoes sit in the doorway of houses, as they do in houses across Japan — neatly placed together, waiting for feet to walk them out the door.

Bicycles rest against fences — waiting for the next journey………

Yuji Ohnuma ‘s slogan, “Nuclear Energy: The Energy of a Bright Future” won the day (competition years ago for pro nuclear slogan) .

Mr Ohnuma recalls being very proud when the billboard was erected — it stretched across the road on the way to the train station — seen by all who passed under it.

But now the bright future he foresaw has been ripped away. Council workers peeled the words off the billboard in December last year.

Mr Ohnuma campaigned for the sign to remain where it was — to serve as an ironic reminder to future generations of the dangers of nuclear power. But in a nation that has heavily invested in atomic energy, the billboard was not ironic — it was embarrassing.

The ABC filmed an interview with Mr Ohnuma under his sign on February 27 — the outline of the words could still be seen.

Last week on March 3, the entire structure was demolished.

The town is a chaotic mess and lives are in ruin — yet this job was given immediate priority.

“Nuclear energy has taken away my dream and my life and the bright future has become a catastrophe for us. I had a vision that my children would some day graduate from the same school as me, but all my plans are destroyed and there are no future prospects,” Mr Ohnuma said.http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-06/fukushima-five-year-anniversay/7218734

March 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Very few return to “re-opened” town in Fukushima

Japan’s nuclear refugees face bleak return five years after Fukushima, Yahoo News, By Minami FunakoshNARAHA (Reuters) 3 Mar 16, – Tokuo Hayakawa carries a dosimeter around with him at his 600-year-old temple in Naraha, the first town in the Fukushima “exclusion zone” to fully reopen since Japan’s March 2011 catastrophe. Badges declaring “No to nuclear power” adorn his black Buddhist robe.

(For a video of ‘Fukushima refugees face a bleak return home’ click http://www.reuters.tv/Bus/2016/03/03/inside-fukushima-s-first-town-to-reopen)

Hayakawa is one of the few residents to return to this agricultural town since it began welcoming back nuclear refugees five months ago.

The town, at the edge of a 20-km (12.5 mile) evacuation zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, was supposed to be a model of reconstruction.

Only 440 of Naraha’s pre-disaster population 8,042 have returned – nearly 70 percent of them over 60.

“This region will definitely go extinct,” said the 76-year-old Hayakawa.

He says he can’t grow food because he fears the rice paddies are still contaminated. Large plastic bags filled with radioactive topsoil and detritus dot the abandoned fields.

With few rituals to perform at the temple, Hayakawa devotes his energies campaigning against nuclear power in Japan. Its 54 reactors supplied over 30 percent of the nation’s energy needs before the disaster.

Today, only three units are back in operation after a long shutdown following the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima. Others are looking to restart.

“I can’t tell my grandson to be my heir,” said Hayakawa, pointing at a photo of his now-teenaged grandson entering the temple in a full protective suit after the disaster. “Reviving this town is impossible,” he said. “I came back to see it to its death.”

That is bound to disappoint Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Rebuilding Naraha and other towns in the devastated northeast, he says, is crucial to reviving Japan.

Tokyo pledged 26.3 trillion ($232 billion) over five years to rebuild the disaster area and will allocate another 6 trillion for the next five years.

VANISHING TOWN………

No children were in sight at Naraha’s main park overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a recent morning. Several elderly residents were at the boardwalk gazing at hundreds of bags stuffed with radioactive waste.

In fact, the bags are a common sight around town: in the woods, by the ocean, on abandoned rice fields.

Little feels normal in Naraha. Many homes damaged in the disaster have been abandoned. Most of the town’s population consists of workers. They are helping to shut down Tokyo Electric Power Co’s <9501.T> Daiichi reactors or working on decontamination projects around town.

Other workers are building a new sea wall, 8.7 meters high, along a nearly 2 km stretch of Naraha’s coast, similar to other sea walls under construction in the northeast……..

Back at his Buddhist temple, part of which he has turned into an office for his anti-nuclear campaign, Hayakawa called the idea Naraha could be a model of reconstruction “a big fat lie”.

“There’s no reconstructing and no returning to how it used to be before (March 11). The government knows this, too. A ‘model case’? That’s just words.” http://news.yahoo.com/japans-nuclear-refugees-face-bleak-return-five-years-064635977–finance.html

March 4, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, Japan, social effects | 1 Comment

The social toll on Fukushima families

For some Fukushima mothers, protecting children from radiation comes at heavy price, Asahi Shimbun February 23, 2016 Three-and-a-half years after fleeing to central Japan, a mother received a package from her husband who had opted to remain at their home in Fukushima Prefecture despite the nuclear disaster.

From Tamura, about 35 kilometers west of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, the father sent snacks for the couple’s two children. The cardboard box also contained divorce papers.

“I cannot send money to my family whom I cannot see,” the husband told his wife.

She still refused to return home.

Thanks to decontamination work, radiation levels have fallen around the nuclear plant since the triple meltdown caused by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. And families are returning to their hometowns, trying to resume normal lives.

But many mothers, distrustful of the government’s safety assurances, still harbor fears that radiation will affect the health of their children. As a result of these concerns, families are being torn apart, friendships have ended, and a social divide remains wide in Fukushima communities.

Around 70,000 people are still not allowed to return to their homes located in evacuation zones designated by the central government. And an estimated 18,000 people from Fukushima Prefecture whose homes were outside those zones remain living in evacuation………..

Sung Woncheol, a professor of sociology at Chukyo University, and others have conducted surveys on mothers whose children were 1 to 2 years old when the nuclear disaster started. The mothers live in Fukushima city and eight other municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture.

Of the 1,200 mothers who responded to the survey in 2015, 50 percent said they had concerns about child-rearing in Fukushima Prefecture.

Nearly 30 percent said they avoid or try to avoid using food products from Fukushima Prefecture, compared with more than 80 percent six months after the disaster.

But for some mothers, the passage of nearly five years since the disaster unfolded has not erased their fears of radiation.

The 36-year-old mother who received the divorce papers from her husband in autumn 2014 continues to live with her children in the central Japan city to which she had no previous connection.

A month after the nuclear disaster, she fled with her then 1-year-old son and her daughter, 10, from their home, even though it was not located in an evacuation zone.

She said she left Fukushima Prefecture because she “could not trust the data released by the central government.”……..http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201602230068

February 29, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016, Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Cover-up of radiation effects makes Fukushima victims’ lives even worse

see-no-evilThere is absolutely no negative discussion of radiation exposure in the mainstream media, to the point where journalists risk being fired if they discuss radiation exposure in their articles, and even liberal newspapers refuse to print articles discussing this topic.

The Taboo Of Radiation Exposure In Japan: The Social Effects Of Fukushima, flag-japanActivist Post,  By Erin O’Flaherty, 11 Dec 15  It is understood that radiation is physically harmful to those who are exposed to it. However, it is also harmful on a social level. Those who become exposed to radiation form a new class within society, one that is discriminated against and even feared by many ordinary people. This has certainly been the case with the Fukushima nuclear incident. This discrimination is worsened by the government and mainstream media’s treatment of the incident. This essay will discuss the social effects of the Fukushima incident by comparing it with the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It will also explain how the media play into this discrimination and attempt to understand why Japanese society is reacting in such a way. Continue reading

December 12, 2015 Posted by | Japan, social effects | Leave a comment

Uranium industry in Niger from AREVA to Chinese companies

the Chinese-operated uranium mine is one of the most opaque business endeavours in Niger
“The nuclear industry itself really works as an oligopoly,” says Yi-Chong Xu, an expert in China’s nuclear policy at Australia’s Griffith University. “In every segment, it’s controlled by only 3 or 4 companies.”
Communities close to uranium sites in northern Niger generally haven’t derived a substantial or obvious advantage from them.
“There isn’t any benefit for the population who lives here,” “They’re just afraid of the contamination.”
uranium-oreOne uranium mine in Niger says a lot about China’s huge nuclear-power ambitions, Business Insider, 25 Oct 15,  ARMIN ROSEN “………the ambitions of the nuclear powers in Niger are still playing out today as Niger’s remote and inhospitable northern desert environment contains the world’s fifth-largest recoverable uranium reserves, some 7% of the global total.

The ore must be extracted and then milled into yellowcake in distant pockets of the Saharan wastes, where it’s then sent on a multi-day truck convoy to the port of Cotonou, in Benin, some 1,900 kilometers (1,180 miles) away………Those mines are operated by Areva, a nuclear-energy-services company that is 70% owned by France, the colonial power that ruled Niger between the 1890s and 1960…….
plans to begin large-scale mining at Imouraren are now on hold because of the worldwide plunge in uranium prices that followed the Fukushima incident and the resulting shutdown of Japan’s 43 commercial nuclear reactors…….

A fourth mine, in a place called Azelik, near the mostly ethnic Tuareg city of In’gall, is currently much smaller than the other three sites.

Like Imouraren, it’s currently shuttered as a partial result of the uranium price dip. But because of its ownership and a checkered recent history, it’s an instructive guide to the future of Niger’s uranium and the global nuclear energy industry at large.

Niger’s Azelik uranium mine, owned and operated by Chinese companies, is at the geographic and economic fringes of a continent-wide wave of Chinese investment, goods, and people. Continue reading

October 26, 2015 Posted by | Niger, opposition to nuclear, politics, social effects, Uranium | Leave a comment

Afraid about radiation, but afraid to speak out: Fukushima mothers

chld-Japan-medicalReluctant to speak, Fukushima moms admit fear of radiation, pressure from families, Japan Times, BY , 29 Sept 15 STAFF WRITER To stay or to flee. Mothers in Fukushima Prefecture had to make harsh decisions for their families after the nuclear disaster of March 2011. More than four years on, they still have to.

Those who remain there live in constant fear for their children’s health. But choosing to flee opened them to accusations of being bad wives who abandoned their relatives, community and husbands tied to jobs.

It is a no-win situation for those who face the decision to stay or go, because they may be unable to live up to the ideal of a ryosai kenbo (good wife, wise mother).

“Consciously or subconsciously, women are aware of the role we are expected to play in a family. After the earthquake and nuclear disaster, however, everything changed,” said Yukiko (not her real name), a mother and voluntary evacuee in her 30s. “I can’t live up to those expectations any more, and society judges me.”

All women interviewed for this story spoke on condition of anonymity.

As the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant began to play out, Tokyo Electric Power Co. established a 20-km no-go zone around the site, outside of which the government said conditions were safe. Many did not believe the assertion.

Yuriko, a woman in her 70s who lives in the city of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, believes the zone restrictions divided the community.

“Some people trusted the government’s word and continued to live here, but others couldn’t stand living every day in fear and moved out,” Yuriko said. “Nobody knew what to believe and communities have fallen apart.”

The fear of radiation, rumors and media reports about the safety of local food prompted many mothers just outside the no-go zone to evacuate voluntarily for the sake of their children’s health. Some moved to neighboring prefectures, including Iwate and Miyagi, and others made the great leap south to Tokyo.

“To be honest, I didn’t have much knowledge about the nuclear reactors in Fukushima. But I did know how deadly high exposures of radiation could be,” said Yuko, in her 30s, who has a 6-year-old daughter. “I evacuated to Tokyo within a week of the disaster. My husband stayed in Fukushima, but I was determined to leave to prioritize the safety of my daughter.”

In many cases, voluntary evacuees like Yuko are mothers who fled with their children while their husbands remained in Fukushima to work………….. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/29/national/social-issues/reluctant-speak-fukushima-moms-admit-fear-radiation-pressure-families/#.VgsUZOyqpHx

September 30, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015, Japan, social effects | Leave a comment