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EDITORIAL: Government turns a blind eye to lessons from nuclear disaster June 2, 2023 

It appears that the lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster have been taken so lightly.

The government and a majority of the Diet are heavily responsible for pushing through a reversal of the nation’s nuclear policies without careful deliberation, shifting from a “reduction of dependence” on nuclear power and heading to its “maximum utilization.”

We must keep asking ourselves whether we can solve the many difficult problems plaguing nuclear power plants and whether they could end up haunting future generations.

This week, a bill related to promoting nuclear plants was passed by the Diet.

The government’s responsibilities and measures aimed at the active utilization are stipulated in the Atomic Energy Basic Law.

The new law also relaxed restrictions on nuclear reactors’ operational periods introduced after the catastrophic disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, opening a path to allowing reactors to operate beyond 60 years if certain conditions are met.

The Asahi Shimbun in its editorials has opposed the bill and called for its reconsideration.

That is because nuclear plants are plagued with a mountain of issues such as the ever-growing nuclear waste and Japan’s nuclear fuel cycle that has reached an impasse, not to mention safety and economic concerns.

And it is unacceptable for the government to reverse its stance to restarting nuclear plants without showing a path to solving the problems.

Now is the time to speed up reforms to make renewable energy a primary power source from the standpoint of the overall energy policy.

Returning to dependence on nuclear plants could lead to going down the wrong path.

The bill was also rushed along as the government adopted the new policy last year after only several months of debate.

The Diet was supposed to do everything in its power to scrutinize the bill from multiple perspectives, but no deep discussions ensued.

We can’t help but be disappointed.

Reasons cited for the about-face were the need for a stable supply of energy and the decarbonization of energy sources.

But how much of a role do nuclear plants actually play in these goals? And why is it necessary to treat them differently?

The government shied away from answering these questions head-on and repeatedly said it was important to pursue all possible options, including nuclear energy.

With several bills covering a variety of issues bundled into the legislation, discussions on concrete measures also wandered off-track.

It had been explained that the limit on the reactors’ operational periods was originally intended to reduce safety risks.

But the government claimed that it decided from the standpoint of the nation’s energy strategy, instead of safety regulations.

Although it was a major shift, the government failed to provide convincing explanations.

After all, numerous questions, including fundamental problems, were left unanswered.

If this stance continues, it will be inevitable for the government to single-mindedly devote itself to the promotion of its new polices on nuclear plants.

The latest policy shift was led by the economy ministry, seriously undermining the principle of separation between “promotion and regulation,” which is the heart of the nuclear policy introduced in light of the Fukushima disaster.

The government seems set to support the restart of nuclear plants and construction of new ones.

However, at the very least, safety procedures and economic benefits of nuclear plants must be thoroughly considered.

And, no matter how many efforts are made, inconvenient realities about nuclear plants won’t disappear.

The government and party members who voted for the bill must keep firmly in mind that they will have to face these realities sooner or later.


June 4, 2023 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

NATO official calls for transparency over nuclear weapons

By Greg Torode

Singapore, June 2 (Reuters) – A senior NATO official on Friday urged Beijing to be more open about its accelerating nuclear weapons build-up, saying that as a global power, China had a responsibility to improve transparency.

Angus Lapsley, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s (NATO) Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, told the Shangri-La regional security conference in Singapore that NATO was willing to talk to China on the issue.

“As a global power it has a global responsibility to be more transparent,” Lapsley said, adding that the scale and pace of the Chinese build-up was “really striking”.

Lapsley said that NATO, with nuclear-armed members the United States, France and Britain, did not want to interfere in the region but wanted to engage, noting that China had a right to modernise and expand its arsenals.

“NATO is open to dialogue, but it can’t substitute dialogue between the U.S. and China,” he said.

Lapsley noted Pentagon reports that China’s arsenal is growing in size and sophistication, and U.S. officials have called for greater dialogue with China.

The Pentagon’s annual China report, released in November 2022, noted that Beijing’s nuclear programme had gathered pace and now has more than 400 operational nuclear warheads – a figure still far below U.S. and Russian stockpiles.

By 2035 – when China is aiming for its military to be fully modernised – China will likely possess a 1,500 nuclear warhead stockpile and an advanced array of missiles, the Pentagon says.

Although China was not represented on the panel, officers from the People’s Liberation Army in the audience questioned recent moves by the U.S. and its allies to provide nuclear-powered submarines to Australia and enhance South Korea’s protection.

One said estimates of its longer-term build-up were “imagination”.

A nuclear power since the early 1960s, China for decades maintained a small number of nuclear warheads and missiles as a deterrent under a “no first use” pledge that remains its official policy despite Beijing’s broader military modernisation under President Xi Jinping.

In a keynote speech of the three-day forum’s opening night, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament remained an important cause.

“The citizens of this region have shown an unflinching commitment to preventing the spread of these destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons,” he said.

June 4, 2023 Posted by | China, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Tritium found beyond safe limits in treated Fukushima wastewater

 A type of radioactive isotope in the over 1.3 million tons of wastewater
being collected at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant and planned
for discharge by as early as this summer has been found at levels beyond
those earlier suggested to be safe by the Japanese government, a wastewater
safety review report by the International Atomic Energy Agency showed

According to the report, which corroborated analyses of the treated wastewater by six laboratories including the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety, the activity concentrations of tritium in the treated water were estimated to be at least 148,900 becquerels per liter.

The wastewater filtered through Japan’s Advanced Liquid Processing System at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station contained more tritium than what was stipulated in Japan’s national regulatory standards for discharge, 60,000 becquerels per liter……………………………………………

 Korea Herald 1st June 2023

June 4, 2023 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, oceans, radiation, wastes | Leave a comment

Dismay in the region over Japan’s plan for nuclear waste water

Nuclear Waste in Pacific Ocean: Japan’s Plan Triggers Controversy

Japan plans to discharge millions of metric tonnes of nuclear wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. This wastewater has been accumulating since disaster struck the Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011. Japan is running out of storage space for this wastewater, which is why it is desperately trying to dump the waste in the ocean. But Tokyo’s plan is marred with controversy, with physical protests being arranged against it as well. Watch this Vantage report to know more.

June 3, 2023 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

China swelters through record temperatures. And vulnerability of old people to heat waves

Temperatures across China reached or exceeded their records for the month
of May, the country’s National Climate Centre has said. Weather stations
at 446 sites registered temperatures that were the same as, or greater
than, the highest ever recorded for the month of May, deputy director of
the National Climate Centre Gao Rong said at a press briefing on Friday. On
Monday, the Shanghai Meteorology Bureau reported that the city had recorded
a temperature of 36.1 degrees Celsius. The previous record for May was
35.7C, which occurred in 2018. Over the next three days, most of southern
China is expected to be hit by temperatures of more than 35C, with
temperatures in some areas exceeding 40C, according to national forecasters
on Friday.

 Guardian 2nd June 2023

 New heatwave warnings could miss vulnerable older people who aren’t
online. Email alerts to warn public about dangers of hot weather will be
voluntary and will give advice on how to stay cool.

 Telegraph 1st June 2023

June 3, 2023 Posted by | China, climate change | Leave a comment

South Korea experts say more study needed on Japan’s nuclear water plan

Yahoo! News, Hyonhee Shin, Wed, 31 May 2023 

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean nuclear safety experts who visited Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant said on Wednesday that detailed analysis was needed to verify Japan’s plan to release tonnes of contaminated water from it into the sea…………

Japan plans to dump more than one million tonnes of contaminated water that was mainly used to cool the reactors into the sea by around this summer, triggering alarm at home and abroad, especially in fishing communities.

“Given our closest location, we are reviewing whether Japan has an appropriate discharge plan from a scientific and technological standpoint,” Yoo Guk-hee, chairman of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, who led a delegation on a site visit last week, told a briefing.

……….. The 21-member South Korean team had focused during its six-day trip on water purification, transport and release equipment, as well as sampling and analysis facilities.

The visit came days after President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida held a summit in Seoul this month amid a thaw in relations following years of tension between the neighbours, both important U.S. allies…………

June 2, 2023 Posted by | oceans, South Korea | Leave a comment

Plan to release Fukushima nuclear plant water into sea faces local opposition: “The sea is not a garbage dump”


Japan’s government is asking for international backup as it prepares to release thousands of gallons of water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the sea. The plan has alarmed the public and outraged fishermen — even as the international energy agency looks inclined to back it.

………….The plant sits in what was a lush coastal part of Japan, famous for its seafood and delicious fruit. Today, there’s still no-go area around the power station where fields lie fallow and homes sit abandoned.

Inside a high security fence studded with warning signs, engineers are still working to remove radioactive fuel rods that melted inside the reactors. They’ll be at it for decades.

Another problem is piling up in hundreds of metal tanks on the site: they contain more than a million tons of contaminated water.

…………………………………….. “Piping water into the sea is an outrage,” said Haruo Ono, who has been fishing the ocean off the coast of Fukushima all his life.

“The sea is not a garbage dump,” he said. “The company says it’s safe, but the consequences could catch up with us 50 years down the road.”

………………………………..Haruo Ono, the fisherman, said the science is not the issue.

“People don’t understand it,” he said. “Mothers won’t choose Fukushima fish knowing it’s been swimming in radioactive water. Even if the experts say it’s safe.”

Under current rules, he can only take his fishing vessels out to sea a day or two a week, when he gets the OK from the government.

“This is the end of my livelihood,” he said.

……………. The Fukushima nuclear plant won’t be safely decommissioned for years to come. So far taxpayers have paid $90 billion to clean it up.

June 2, 2023 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

China halts floating nuclear power plan over security fears

Global Construction Review, David Rogers, 31.05.23

China’s plan to build a fleet of nuclear power reactors that would provide electrical power to islands on the South China Sea have been suspended over security concerns, the South China Morning Post reports.

As construction of the first units was about to begin, regulators announced that they were withholding approval.

The decision came as a surprise for the project’s scientists, who believed the technology was mature and that floating reactors were generally safer than those on land, since the ocean acts as a natural heat sink and is immune to seismic activity.

Writing in the journal Nuclear Power Engineering, Wang Donghui, a scientist at the National Energy Offshore Nuclear Power Platform Technology Research Centre, said safety and feasibility were the main concerns of authorities.

He said the decision was made in spite of a 10-year research project into floating plants, and the fact that China has advanced ship design capabilities, as well as domestic design and manufacturing units capable of building floating platforms.

It had been hoped that a floating nuclear power plant would provide power to support military and civilian activities on remote islands in the South China Sea, and China was envisaging the construction of a fleet of such vessels (see further reading)………………


One of the major safety concerns is that floating power plants could face attacks from sea and air, but also from underwater attacks, according to Wang.

An enemy submarine, for example, could attempt to sabotage the facility by planting explosives on its hull or damaging its cooling systems. Unmanned aerial vehicles could also fly over the plant and drop bombs or other projectiles on it.

According to Wang, protecting a floating nuclear power plant from “underwater divers, vessels, floating objects or airborne objects”, would require a comprehensive ship security system.

June 1, 2023 Posted by | China, safety | Leave a comment

Bill to extend operating period of nuclear plants passes Japan’s Upper House

BY GABRIELE NINIVAGGI, Japan Times, May 31, 2023

A bill to extend the operating period of nuclear power plants to over 60 years — providing safety conditions are met — passed the Upper House on Wednesday, paving the way for a comprehensive overhaul of Japan’s nuclear policy.

The ruling coalition led by the Liberal Democratic Party, with the external support of two opposition parties — the Democratic Party for the People and Nippon Ishin no Kai — voted in favor of the bill, while other opposition forces on the left and center-left vocally opposed the legislation, saying that proposals to guarantee the safety of nuclear power plants were insufficient………..(Subscribers only)


June 1, 2023 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

TEPCO faces new crisis over pedestal blow at Fukushima plant

May 30, 2023

Damage to a pedestal inside the No. 1 reactor at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is more critical than previously believed, triggering a more intricate assessment of its resistance to a major earthquake. 

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has no time to waste in confronting the issue. It must swiftly assess the damage and take effective action to prevent an accident or leak of radioactive materials.

An underwater robotic probe detected the damage in late March. It found that the metal framework lies exposed along the inner side of the pedestal’s wall for about 1 meter from its bottom and for the entire inner circumference as concrete in these areas has been lost.

There are fears the containment vessel that houses the pressure vessel could crack if the pedestal collapses in a severe earthquake. That could cause radioactive materials to leak.

Referring to the structure’s current earthquake resistance, TEPCO stressed that the pedestal has managed to support the reactor vessel even though the plant “has experienced strong earthquakes.” The utility cited one last year that registered lower 6 on the Japanese seismic intensity scale of 7.

Although the possibility of the pressure vessel tilting or sinking cannot be ruled out, the company asserts the impact will be limited with no risk of radioactive material leaking to the outside.

 the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) said last week it could not decide whether the assumptions underlying TEPCO’s risk assessment are accurate as the extent of damage and condition of the structural materials are not yet fully understood. The nuclear safety watchdog also said it would be difficult to reinforce the pedestal because of high radiation levels inside the containment vessel.

For this reason, the NRA called on the utility to evaluate the impact of a possible release of radioactive material into the environment and consider steps to deal with such an emergency.

As one NRA official put it, “I should say (TEPCO’s evaluation) is too optimistic, and it is difficult to say that is very reassuring.”

NRA Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka said at a news conference, “It is TEPCO’s responsibility to swiftly assess what risks could impact the surrounding environment and its residents.”

Conditions surrounding the reactors that suffered core meltdowns in the nuclear disaster 12 years ago are only now finally being clarified. This has led to the discovery of additional problems that are already difficult to deal with, making the outlook of progress toward decommissioning the reactors even more uncertain.

The degradation of plant parts and materials will continue in the coming years. There is always the risk of a major earthquake striking the plant. Each time it is hit by a strong quake, the damage accumulates and the danger increases. If a radioactive leak occurs, it will seriously compromise the safety of residents, the reconstruction of the local communities and the local fishing industry.

The NRA this month decided not to lift a ban on the movement of nuclear fuel within TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, citing flawed measures to protect the facility against terrorist attacks. There are growing concerns about whether TEPCO is equipped to operate nuclear power plants.

There is absolutely no room for complacency when it comes to the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. TEPCO must always remain vigilant to a worst-case scenario in tackling related challenges.

June 1, 2023 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, safety | Leave a comment

China firmly opposes Japan’s discharge of Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water into sea

Source: Xinhua, Editor: huaxia, 2023-05-30

GENEVA, May 28 (Xinhua) — A Chinese delegate on Saturday expressed firm opposition to Japan’s unilateral decision to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water from Fukushima into the sea, when attending related discussions at the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) held here.

Given the strong currents along Fukushima’s coast, the radionuclides will spread to waters worldwide in 10 years after a discharge, the delegate said, adding that this move is to shift the risks to all mankind, and is not Japan’s private matter, but a crucial issue affecting global public health.

Noting many countries and stakeholders have expressed serious concerns, the delegate urged Japan not to unilaterally discharge the nuclear-contaminated water before reaching an agreement with all parties.

In response to a Japanese delegate’s defense, the Chinese side said that the defense can be summed up as “the water quality is non-toxic and the discharge is reasonable,” but what the Japanese side said is completely untenable and they must give convincing answers to a series of questions.

The Chinese delegate raised three questions: First, if the nuclear-contaminated water is safe, why doesn’t Japan itself use the water? Why not use the water for domestic agriculture and manufacturing, or discharge it into domestic lakes? Second, is discharging the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea the only feasible solution? Third, what kind of long-term impact will such a discharge have on the world?

When it comes to the disposal of the nuclear-contaminated water, the Chinese delegate pointed out that Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has proposed five plans. The Japanese government’s expert committee has admitted that compared to such options as emitting the water into the atmosphere through vaporization, building new storage tanks and solidifying the water with cement, a discharge into the sea is the cheapest option with minimum risk of pollution to Japan itself.

Japan’s current choice is to save itself trouble and money by pushing the world to suffer consequences, the delegate said, emphasizing that such actions, which only serve the short-term interests of Japan but harm the common interests of all mankind, must be severely condemned and resolutely resisted, and that the Pacific Ocean is not a sewer into which Japan can dump nuclear-contaminated water.

In April 2021, Japan announced that it would discharge the polluted water from the Fukushima nuclear accident into the ocean. Many countries, including China, have expressed firm opposition, and Russia also expressed serious concerns at this WHA. However, Japan has disregarded the reasonable appeals and demands of the international community.

May 31, 2023 Posted by | China, oceans | 1 Comment

Government’s nuclear-free policy remains unchanged: Cabinet

05/29/2023, Focus Taiwan, By Chen Chun-hua, Kuo Chien-shen, Wang Yang-yu, Wang Cheng-chung, Liu Chien-ling and Evelyn Kao

Taipei, May 29 (CNA) The government’s policy of creating a “nuclear-free homeland” has not changed, and there is no consideration of extending the service of Taiwan’s nuclear power plants, Cabinet spokesman Lin Tze-luen (林子倫) said Monday.

Lin was responding to comments by Vice President and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) presidential candidate Lai Ching-te (賴清德) that Taiwan’s nuclear reactors might be reactivated in an emergency situation, seemingly contradicting the DPP’s policy.

Lin said in a post to reporters that the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Taiwan Power Co. (Taipower) are carrying out the phasing out of Taiwan’s nuclear plants in line with the original plans and are not considering extending their lifespan……

Taiwan currently has only one nuclear power plant still producing power, the third nuclear power plant near the southern tip of the island. It is scheduled to be shut down by 2025 and be decommissioned.

The first and second nuclear plants along Taiwan’s northern coast have started their decommissioning processes. The fourth nuclear plant in Gongliao in northeastern Taiwan was nearly completed but never operated, and the DPP government shipped away its unused fuel rods……………………………………….more

May 31, 2023 Posted by | politics, Taiwan | Leave a comment

IAEA team in Japan for final review before planned discharge of Fukushima nuclear plant water.

abc news, 29 May 23

An International Atomic Energy Agency team has arrived in Tokyo for a final review before Japan begins releasing massive amounts of treated radioactive water into the sea from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, a plan that has been strongly opposed b…

By MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press, May 29, 2023

TOKYO — An International Atomic Energy Agency team arrived in Tokyo on Monday for a final review before Japan begins releasing massive amounts of treated radioactive water into the sea from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, a plan that has been strongly opposed by local fishing communities and neighboring countries.

The team, which includes experts from 11 countries, will meet with officials from the government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, and visit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant during their five-day visit, the economy and industry ministry said………………………………

Some scientists say the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to radionuclides is unknown and the release should be delayed.

Japan’s government has stepped up campaigns in Japanese media and at food fairs to promote the safety of seafood from Fukushima, while providing regular briefings to foreign governments including South Korea and members of the Pacific Islands Forum.

…………………. Japanese officials say the water stored in the tanks needs to be removed to prevent accidental leaks in case of another disaster and to make room for the plant’s decommissioning.

May 31, 2023 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, oceans | Leave a comment

Thawing glaciers around Everest show critical need to stop greenhouse emissions

 Helen Clark – former prime minister of New Zealand: Global temperature
rises mean that Everest, in common with mountains across the Himalayas, is
undergoing unprecedented and irreversible change. The 79 glaciers that
surround Everest have thinned by more than 100 metres (328ft) in just six
decades, and the rate of thinning has nearly doubled since 2009.

Communities at the top of the world are crying out to world leaders for
help. Humanity has a mountain to climb in reaching the aspirations of the
Paris Agreement. The only hope is for concerted global action to reduce
greenhouse gas emissions dramatically to save the world’s snow and ice
before it is too late.

 Times 29th May 2023

May 30, 2023 Posted by | ASIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Taiwan Considers Keeping Nuclear Reactors on Emergency Standby

Cindy Wang and Stephen Stapczynski, Mon, May 29, 2023

(Bloomberg) — Taiwan is considering keeping nuclear power plants on standby in case of emergencies, signaling a loosening of policy to phase out the energy source.The government plans to maintain shut reactors so that they could be restarted in an emergency, Taipei-based United Daily News reported, citing Vice President Lai Ching-te, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s presidential candidate. It’s the first time the government has signaled it’s possible to restart plants, United Daily News said.

The use of nuclear as backup generation would be unusual because of the high costs and safety measures required. Taiwan’s plans to phase out its last remaining atomic plant by 2025 go against a global resurgence of the technology to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The island is also seeking to reduce coal consumption, leaving the government under pressure to build out gas-powered generation and offshore wind to avoid power shortages.

A restart strategy would only be needed in extreme emergencies, such as external blockades or serious natural disaster, and would need to be safe and have consensus among lawmakers and the public, Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua told reporters on Monday.

Taiwan got about 11% of its power from nuclear in 2021, according to state-owned Taiwan Power Co. It has two operating reactors that started in the 1980s and which are slated to close next year and in 2025.

May 30, 2023 Posted by | ENERGY, Taiwan | Leave a comment