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The toll on marine life of radioactive water poured into the Pacific Ocean.

Beyond Nuclear 2nd May 2021, Tepco and the Japanese government are once more preparing to “dispose” of 1.25 million tonnes — translating to hundred of millions of gallons — of radioactive water accumulating at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site by pouring it into the Pacific Ocean. I say “accumulating” because this water, needed to constantly cool the stricken reactors that exploded and melted down during and after March 11, 2011 — and that also runs down neighboring hillsides and across the site, picking up radioactive contamination — will continue to accumulate.

This is not a one-stop-toss. Citizens groups and fishing unions have been up in arms about this ever since it was first mooted. The actual dumping of the water always seems to be about two years away, and is always threatened as
the only “solution,” which it is not. It is almost certainly the cheapest solution, but not the only choice.

Even if we never ate the fish that comes out of the Pacific; and even if the fish and higher marine mammal predators never ate each other; contaminating sea life with radioactive toxins is wrong. We made it. Why dump it on creatures who had nothing whatever to do with its production and never needed to turn on a light?

This is not the only instance of total disregard for marine life when it comes to nuclear power. Just by using what is known as the “once-through” cooling intake system at coastal nuclear power plants, the toll on sea life is immense.

Billions of fish, fingerlings and spawn are drawn into the plant with the cooling water (the water rate can be as high as a million gallons a minute) and duly pulverized. Their “remains” are discharged at the other end as sediment. No fishing license required. New nuclear power plants promise to be even bigger marine predators.

https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/05/02/fission-folly/

May 6, 2021 Posted by | Japan, oceans | Leave a comment

France desperate to sell its flawed nuclear technology to India, Time for India to cancel Jaitapur nuclear power project.

Time for India to cancel Jaitapur nuclear power project, France keen on flogging its ‘messy’ tech to India Business May 2, 2021  By Ranvir Nayar Media India Group France remains desperate to sell its severely troubled EPR nuclear reactors to India, even though its own project at home and at both the sites outside of France have had severe cost and time overruns and continue to face safety issues.

On March 3, 2021, Electricité de France, EDF, the sole operator of nuclear power plants in France, informed the country’s nuclear safety body, Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), of a design anomaly on three nozzles of the main primary system of the European Pressurised Reactor that it has been building at Flamanville in north-west France.

The design flaw is serious as the main primary system contains water used to cool the reactor core and transfer energy from the nuclear reaction to the steam generators. The design dates back to 2006 and the nozzles were manufactured in 2011.

https://mediaindia.eu/business/jaitapur-nuclear-france/

May 6, 2021 Posted by | France, India, marketing | Leave a comment

Serious concerns about China’s role in Hinkley Point nuclear power station

Independent 3rd May 2021. Chinese investors have amassed nearly £134bn of assets in key UK industries ranging from energy companies and transport hubs to breweries and schools. Nearly 200 British companies are either controlled by groups or individuals based in China and Hong Kong or count them as minority shareholders, according to an analysis of business data. The list of investments drawn up by the Sunday Times includes Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, Heathrow Airport, Northumbrian Water, pub retailer Greene King and Superdrug.

Serious concerns have been raised about the security implications of China’s investment in UK assets, most notably in relation to Hinkley Point nuclear power station which is owned by French energy firm EDF. In 2016 Theresa May’s government briefly put the project on hold before attaching new conditions to the £18bn deal. Nick Timothy, one of
the Ms May’s chief advisers, had warned that China “could use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will”. China General Nuclear Power holds a 33.5 per cent stake in the plant, which is owned by the French state-owned energy firm EDF.

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/china-now-owns-ps143bn-in-uk-assets-from-nuclear-power-to-pubs-and-schools-b1841056.html

May 4, 2021 Posted by | China, politics, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Malaysia needs to speak out on releasing nuclear waste into the sea 

Malaysia needs to speak out on releasing nuclear waste into the sea   https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/malaysia-needs-speak-out-releasing-nuclear-waste-seaBernama/Bernama
May 02, 2021   KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia needs to play its role as a member of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) by speaking out on the long-term effect of releasing treated water from nuclear power plants into the ocean.

Co-founder of Project Ocean Hope, Mogesh Sababathy said actions need to be taken to ensure environmental sustainability, especially for marine life, is not threatened.

“Even though the nuclear waste will be diluted in water, its radioactive concentration should also be considered. And even when diluted, toxic is still toxic and it can still affect everyone.

“Hence, Malaysia needs to play its role and speak out on this issue at an international level, as this involves people’s security and health, as well as marine life in the region,” he told Bernama.

The Japanese government has recently approved a plan to release more than one million tonnes of treated water from the ruined Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.

The plan also has the support of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which says the release is comparable to the disposal of waste water from other nuclear plants globally.

Mogesh argued that this method will affect the world’s food chain security.  “Nuclear radioactive is capable of affecting marine life and killing organisms, thus threatening the economic source of those who rely on it.

“It’s undeniable that Malaysia is far removed from Fukushima but we still share the same ocean. It is not impossible for the waste to drift to our country,” he said.

He hopes the relevant international bodies will study and develop safer alternative to dispose radioactive nuclear waste without harming the environment.

May 3, 2021 Posted by | Malaysia, oceans, politics international, wastes | Leave a comment

China’s big stake in UK’s new nuclear projects

Times 2nd May 2021 , How Beijing bought up Britain. China has quietly spent £134bn hoovering up
UK assets, from nuclear power to private schools and pizza chains. Research
reveals that almost 200 British companies are either controlled by Chinese
investors or count them as minority shareholders. The value of Chinese
investments totals £134 billion.

Some of the biggest sums have been spent
in the energy sector, notably nuclear power. Chinese state-owned China
General Nuclear (CGN) bought a 33.5 per cent stake in Hinkley Point C power
station in Somerset, the first new nuclear facility to be built in the UK
in more than 20 years.

The main investor is France’s EDF. CGN, which has
been blacklisted in America for allegedly helping to acquire US tech for
military use in China, has also joined with EDF on the proposed nuclear
plant at Sizewell C in Suffolk. CGN will take a 20 per cent stake during
the plant’s development. Plans for a third plant, at Bradwell in Essex,
have China hawks up in arms, because CGN intends to take a majority 66.5
per cent stake during development and will use its own reactor technology.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/how-beijing-bought-up-britain-hqll9tjtx

May 3, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Radioactive leakage from nuclear waste containers near Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant


ECNS 30th April 2021, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (TEPCO), the operator of the
Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan’s northeast said last week a
container holding radioactive waste at the site of the plant may have
leaked, Japan’s Asahi Shimbun reported Friday last week.

The TEPCO said
some gel-like blocks with large amount of radiation were found last month
at the site where the containers were kept, and the situation is under
investigation, according to the newspaper. The containers have been stacked
in three layers, and the top container has become rusted and corroded,
causing liquid accumulation, said the company. The sides of the two lower
containers have been contaminated with radioactive materials, and it is
believed that the liquid leaking from the top container may have made its
way to the ground through the containers below, according to the company.

The relevant containers have been moved to an indoor storage facility. The
concentration of radioactive materials that emit beta rays in the gel-like
blocks was 230,000 becquerels per gram, according to the report.

http://www.ecns.cn/m/news/society/2021-04-30/detail-ihakynqm6148318.shtml

May 3, 2021 Posted by | incidents, Japan | Leave a comment

In India’s pandemic nightmare, India and Pakistan need to invest in health, not nuclear weapons.

Oxygen is more important than uranium,  DW, 1 May 21,  India and Pakistan can afford to buy weapons and test ballistic missiles, but they can’t cope with the COVID crisis. DW’s Shamil Shams says it is time for both to invest in public health and focus less on warmongering.

Dr. Mubarak Ali, a progressive Pakistani historian, recently wrote on social media that the mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic in India and Pakistan proves that “oxygen is more important than uranium.”

Both India and Pakistan are grappling with an acute public health crisis brought on by coronavirus. India lacks oxygen for COVID patients, and Pakistan can’t afford to buy vaccines.

However, both nuclear-armed states continue to devote a large chunk of their national budgets to military spending.

The pandemic situation in India is nightmarish. During the week following April 18, India reported 2.24 million new cases, the highest number recorded by any country in a seven-day period since the pandemic began.

India also logged 16,257 deaths, almost double the 8,588 deaths recorded the previous week, according to Health Ministry data. Since the start of the pandemic last year, India has registered over 17.6 million COVID cases and almost 200,000 related deaths.

This “second wave” is particularly lethal and has exposed the fragility of India’s health infrastructure. Hospitals are overwhelmed with COVID patients, and there aren’t enough places to cremate or bury the dead.

The situation is Pakistan is getting worse by the day. Infections and deaths are surging.

As of Tuesday, April 27, Pakistan has recorded almost 805,000 COVID cases and 17,329 deaths. Experts say the actual numbers are likely much higher.

The vaccine rollout has been quite slow in Pakistan because the government doesn’t have the funding to purchase doses. China and other countries have donated a few million vaccine doses, but it is not enough to vaccinate a country of 220 million people.

Stubborn arrogance

Yet, the ruling classes in India and Pakistan are not ready to reevaluate their public spending policies.

For over 70 years since both countries gained independence from British rule, India and Pakistan have invested more in defense than in the wellbeing of their people.

Their militaries have thrived, even as a large segment of their populations have fallen below the poverty line.

This is what happens when a developing county prioritizes security-based national spending. India and Pakistan have the latest tanks and fighter jets, yet their hospitals lack ICU beds and ventilators………

Misplaced priorities

Even the world’s most developed health care systems have been pushed to the edge by the coronavirus pandemic. And for developing countries, the pandemic has demonstrated the necessity of a functional health care system for prosperity.

Powerful militaries and massive defense budgets cannot fight a virus. 

Therefore, India and Pakistan can no longer justify supporting a nuclear arsenal while their populations suffer due to a lack of medicines, oxygen cylinders and hospitals.

The rulers of the two nations must put an end to their warmongering and resolve their disputes politically and diplomatically. The best way to deal with COVID – and potential pandemics in the future – is through regional cooperation.

The way many Pakistanis have offered support to Indians during their health crisis is proof that the two nations can overcome many challenges if they help each other.

The pandemic has demonstrated that if the arch-rival south Asian neighbors don’t move toward reconciliation and peace, their economies are bound to collapse in the long run, and even their mighty armies will not be able to stop it.   https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-oxygen-is-more-important-than-uranium/a-57350243?fbclid=IwAR3Cwkkmbw2jocuXnqY6MpWWHOnWzy182c0WUa1XIkWRvAntNSlZS2t4CVY

May 1, 2021 Posted by | health, India, Pakistan, weapons and war | 1 Comment

South Korean fishermen protest against the dumping of Fukushima wastewater into the Pacific Ocean

S.Korean fishermen hold boat protests against Japan nuclear plans, Reuters 30 Apr 21,  Hundreds of South Korean fishermen across the country held protests on Friday calling on Japan to reverse its decision to release contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.

About 800 fishermen participated in rallies at ports in nine cities, according to South Korea’s National Federation of Fisheries Cooperatives.

At one port, at Gungpyeong on the west coast, fishermen held anti-Japan banners and chanted slogans such as “Withdraw Japan’s decision” and “Condemn irresponsible nuclear attack”. Twenty fishing boats with banners denouncing Japan’s decision sailed near the port.

“My father bequeathed this sea to me and I’m going to pass it on to my son, who is also fishing,” said Park Re-seung, chief of Yongdu-ri fishing village, who has worked in the fishing industry for 38 years. “Why is Japan doing this? How could they do such a bad thing against the sea? Don’t they eat fish?”…….

“For us, this issue is about making our living,” Park added. “If the customers continue to see the news of the water release, they wouldn’t be even buying fishes that we caught here.”  https://www.reuters.com/business/environment/skorean-fishermen-hold-boat-protests-against-japan-nuclear-plans-2021-04-30/

May 1, 2021 Posted by | oceans, South Korea, wastes | Leave a comment

Even with water release to the Pacific, Fukushima nuclear plant needs more storage tanks

Even with water release, nuclear plant needs more storage tanks, Asahi Shimbun, By KEITARO FUKUCHI/ Staff Writer, May 1, 2021   The plan to release treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the sea will likely not resolve the chronic problem of contaminated water accumulating there, Asahi Shimbun calculations show.

The maximum rate of water discharge allowed under the government’s basic plan would be less than the inflow of rainwater and groundwater at the nuclear power plant, meaning that additional water storage tanks would inevitably be needed at the site.

The government on April 13 approved the basic plan to release more than 1 million tons of treated water into the sea. The government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. hope to start discharging the water two years from now. Existing storage tanks at the site are expected to reach full capacity around the same time.

The Asahi Shimbun studied this plan based on documents and materials published by the government and TEPCO……… http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14332645 

May 1, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing | Leave a comment

Governor of Fukui Prefecture to approve restart of aging nuclear reactors, but local community is opposed.

Governor to approve restart of 40-plus-year-old nuclear reactors in Japan first

April 28, 2021 (Mainichi Japan)   FUKUI — The governor of central Japan’s Fukui Prefecture announced on April 28 his intention to approve the reactivation of 40-plus-year-old nuclear reactors following an online meeting with the economy minister. If the move goes ahead, it would be the first time in Japan for such aging reactors to be restarted.

Fukui Gov. Tatsuji Sugimoto spoke with Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama online on April 27 and confirmed the central government’s nuclear power policy, including plans to reboot the No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Mihama Nuclear Power Station in the prefectural town of Mihama and the No. 1 and 2 reactors at the Takahama station in the prefectural town of Takahama — both of which are over 40 years old since they were put online.

Following the March 2011 disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, Japan decided to set the operating period of a nuclear rector at 40 years as a general rule. That period can be extended for up to 20 years as a one-time only exception if the Nuclear Regulation Authority approves…….

As a rule, consensus from host municipalities and prefectures is needed to restart a reactor. The Mihama and Takahama municipal governments, as well as their respective town assemblies have already agreed to restart the aging reactors. The Fukui prefectural nuclear safety commission tasked with checking the safety of nuclear plants has compiled a report on the assessment of Kansai Electric’s safety measures and submitted it to Gov. Sugimoto on April 22………..

The prefectural government had indicated that, as a condition for approving the restart of aging reactors, Kansai Electric present candidate locations outside Fukui Prefecture for interim storage sites for spent nuclear fuel. In February this year, Gov. Sugimoto expressed his appreciation over the utility’s proposal to secure a location “by the end of 2023,” including the shared use of a storage site in the Aomori Prefecture city of Mutsu in northern Japan.

The governor then practically shelved resolving the issue of interim storage sites and requested that the prefectural assembly debate the potential restart of the aging reactors. The central government had presented additional aid programs on April 6, including the provision of up to 2.5 billion yen (about $23 million) per nuclear station which is older than 40 years — in the cases of Mihama and Takahama stations, the subsidy will total 5 billion yen (roughly $46 million). With this, Fukui Prefecture entered the final stage of building local consensus for rebooting the idled reactors.

Meanwhile, local residents have voiced concerns over the safety of long-running reactors and evacuation routes in the event of an accident, among other issues……..

Kansai Electric will begin full-fledged preparations as soon as local consensus is built. However, as the construction of a specialized anti-terrorism facility, which became mandatory to reboot reactors under the new safety regulations, has been delayed, the timing of actually restarting the reactors remains undecided.

The Japan Atomic Power Co.’s Tokai No. 2 Power Station in the Ibaraki Prefecture village of Tokai in east Japan, which is also more than 40 years old, has been given the green light by the national government for an extension, but the utility has not been able to get consensus from the local community.

(Japanese original by Riki Iwama, Fukui Bureau)  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210428/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

April 29, 2021 Posted by | Japan, politics | Leave a comment

Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children

IPPNW 26th April 2021, Dr Alex Rosen: Thyroid cancer increased 20-fold in Fukushima children. In 2011, people in Japan were exposed to radioactive fallout in many places. Some still live in irradiated regions where they are confronted with increased amounts of radiation every day: radioactive hot spots on the roadside, in rice fields or in sandboxes, contaminated fungi or algae, irradiated groundwater and recontamination from forest fires or floods.

One of the most dreaded long-term effects of radioactive exposure is the development of cancers through mutation of the DNA. Thyroid cancer in children is certainly not the most dangerous, but it is the easiest to detect form of radiation-related cancer. On the one hand, the latency periods until the development of a cancerous ulcer are relatively short,only a few years; on the other hand, thyroid cancer in children is anextremely rare disease, so that even a slight increase can be statistically significant. In 2011, the pressure on the Japanese authorities to investigate the development of thyroid cancer in children and adolescents in Fukushima was correspondingly great.

https://www.ippnw.de/atomenergie/gesundheit/artikel/de/schilddruesenkrebs-bei-fukushima-kind.html

April 27, 2021 Posted by | children, Japan | Leave a comment

France’s EDF imposes conditions on India, re massive nuclear station planned for Jaitapur. EDF will be “Neither investor in the project nor responsible for construction”.

World Nuclear News 23rd April 2021, French company EDF has submitted to Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) its binding techno-commercial offer to build six EPRs at Jaitapur in Maharashtra. The offer is the culmination of work that began with the 2018signature of an agreement between the two companies and paves the way for discussions towards a binding framework agreement.

https://world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/EDF-submits-offer-for-Jaitapur-project

Le Monde 23rd Aprilo 2021, It is believed to be the largest civilian atomic infrastructure in the world, with an installed capacity of 9,600 megawatts. This offer should initially have been submitted at the end of 2018 to the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) group, the future operator of the plant.

But the approach of India’s spring 2019 general elections had made it untimely in the eyes of nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is a candidate for his return to power. If the drafting of the document, more than 7,000 pages, finally took much longer than expected, it is also because of the sensitivity of its central subject: the distribution of responsibilities between the French corporation and the public operator. Indian.

In this case, EDF intends to impose its conditions. While the company chaired by Jean-Bernard Lévy originally said that it would build the entire Jaitapur plant, it now proposes to provide only “engineering studies and equipment”,
without being “Neither investor in the project nor responsible for construction”.

https://www.lemonde.fr/economie/article/2021/04/23/en-inde-le-projet-de-plus-grande-centrale-nucleaire-du-monde-se-precise_6077863_3234.html

April 26, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, France, India | Leave a comment

Not necessary to increase USA’s nuclear arsenal – China’s goal is defence – a stronger-second strike arsenal.

We Don’t Need a Better Nuclear Arsenal to Take on China

The military’s arguments for a nuclear overhaul are unconvincing. Slate, BY FRED KAPLAN, APRIL 23, 2021

This week, top military officers launched their big push on Capitol Hill for a total overhaul of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, at an estimated cost of $1.3 trillion over the next 30 years, and their top rationale—the go-to rationale for just about every large federal program these days—was the threat from China.

Their case was less than compelling

Yes, China is displaying some bellicose behavior these days, economically, politically, and militarily. But a new generation of U.S. intercontinental ballistic missiles, bombers, cruise missiles, and submarines would do nothing to deal with the problem.

Adm. Charles Richard, the head of U.S. Strategic Command, which runs plans and operations for the nuclear arsenal, laid out his case in hearings before House and subcommittees on strategic forces. He noted that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal at an “unprecedented” pace, on course to double in size by the end of the decade. It’s building more solid-fuel missiles, which can be launched right away (older liquid-fuel missiles require hours to load). It’s also building better early-warning radar, putting some of its ICBMs on trucks and moving them around. It might have adopted a launch-on-warning policy.

But all of this adds up to something less alarming than Richard’s rhetoric suggested—namely that the People’s Liberation Army is improving its ability to detect, and respond to, a nuclear attack on the Chinese homeland. Even if the Chinese doubled the size of their arsenal, which would give them about 600 nuclear weapons instead of the current 300, it would be well under half the size of the U.S. arsenal, so they would have no ability to launch a first strike against us.

In other words, China seems to be building a more potent second-strike arsenal—what we in the West would call a deterrent—perhaps in the face of Russia’s build-up of medium-range missiles and America’s development of a missile-defense force. This is troubling only to the extent it means that the United States would have a hard time launching a nuclear first-strike against China.

This is a bit troubling, but for reasons that seem less so, the more deeply the problem is analyzed. China’s military strategy is to establish hegemony in the region—especially in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea—and to prevent U.S. air and naval forces from intervening in this area. Beijing has made progress toward this goal by declaring some small islands, which are clearly in international waters, to be Chinese territory and converting them into military bases. It has also built and deployed hundreds of missiles that can attack ships, even large ones, with steadily improving accuracy and steadily longer range. China has also improved its ability to hit satellites and sensors in outer space (through cyber and more conventional means). Again, the goal is to keep the U.S. from intervening in Chinese military ventures. The American trump card in any such conflict has long been its nuclear arsenal (whether any president actually would use nukes to protect, say, Taiwan is another matter), but if China has its own potent nuclear deterrent, this card’s value is reduced: if we attack them, they can attack us……..

But all of this adds up to something less alarming than Richard’s rhetoric suggested—namely that the People’s Liberation Army is improving its ability to detect, and respond to, a nuclear attack on the Chinese homeland. Even if the Chinese doubled the size of their arsenal, which would give them about 600 nuclear weapons instead of the current 300, it would be well under half the size of the U.S. arsenal, so they would have no ability to launch a first strike against us.

n other words, China seems to be building a more potent second-strike arsenal—what we in the West would call a deterrent—perhaps in the face of Russia’s build-up of medium-range missiles and America’s development of a missile-defense force. This is troubling only to the extent it means that the United States would have a hard time launching a nuclear first-strike against China.

This is a bit troubling, but for reasons that seem less so, the more deeply the problem is analyzed. China’s military strategy is to establish hegemony in the region—especially in the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea—and to prevent U.S. air and naval forces from intervening in this area. Beijing has made progress toward this goal by declaring some small islands, which are clearly in international waters, to be  Chinese territory and converting them into military bases. It has also built and deployed hundreds of missiles that can attack ships, even large ones, with steadily improving accuracy and steadily longer range. China has also improved its ability to hit satellites and sensors in outer space (through cyber and more conventional means). Again, the goal is to keep the U.S. from intervening in Chinese military ventures. The American trump card in any such conflict has long been its nuclear arsenal (whether any president actually would use nukes to protect, say, Taiwan is another matter), but if China has its own potent nuclear deterrent, this card’s value is reduced: if we attack them, they can attack us.

……. the main point is this: We would gain no leverage in this scenario by building new ICBMs, bombers, cruise missiles, or submarines. To the extent these sorts of weapons loom as the ultimate deterrent, as a sort of overlord to any military competition, we already have plenty.

………. There will be fierce resistance to any slowdown of the strategic juggernaut. Most members of the congressional armed services committees regard the Nuclear Triad with the same veneration that Catholics bestow to the Holy Trinity. When they ask a witness if he believes in the Triad, they do so with a quivering tone, as if they were priests asking a supplicant if he believes in God.

At the same time, budget pressures are rousing some lawmakers to mull, a bit more deeply than before, whether so many nukes are necessary, whether they all have to be 100 percent reliable to deter adversaries from aggression, whether the recondite scenarios and theories of the nuclear game are quite real. It’s long past time to demystify the nuclear enterprise, to strip away the fear and trembling, and ask how many weapons are needed to do what.  https://slate.com/news-and-politics/2021/04/nuclear-triad-overhaul-china.html

April 24, 2021 Posted by | China, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Fukushima waste water plan won’t win public confidence, no matter how hard Japan tries

Fukushima waste water plan won’t win public confidence, no matter how hard Japan tries,  Peter Wynn Kirby https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3130239/fukushima-waste-water-plan-wont-win-public-confidence-no-matter-how

  • The nuclear industry’s history of secrecy and cover-ups is only one reason
  • Tepco’s incompetent and at times dishonest handling so far of the 2011 disaster and its aftermath has shattered what’s left of people’s trust.

To exasperated observers, this recalled the nuclear industry’s notorious 1990s mobilisation of Pluto-kun, a puckish cartoon character who drinks plutonium – arguably the world’s most dangerous substance – to demonstrate its harmlessness.

While other nations in the region have registered vociferous opposition to the water release plan, the domestic resistance is telling. A majority of Japanese oppose the plan. For a decade, the fishing industry has laboured, successfully, to show that the seafood it brings to market is safe, giving a wide berth to the plume of radioactive effluent haemorrhaging out of the Fukushima nuclear plant. All these efforts may soon appear to have been made in vain.

As indicated above, the choice of last Tuesday for the announcement seems to have been dictated by politics alone. Did Japan see the Olympics as a feel-good spectacle that could provide cover for the decision? Did US President Joe Biden’s recent pressure on Japan and South Korea to work together on regional security make the timing more palatable? 

Whatever the calculus involved, one thing is for sure: the more Japan tries to make Fukushima Daiichi seem perfectly safe, the more people distrust the message – and the messenger.

As the Japanese proverb goes, “Let the past drift away like water.” Yet with radiation, letting go is not so simple. Even as the Japanese government tries to rid itself of the catastrophic after-effects of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, radioactive traces stubbornly remain. 

Japan announced last week its intention to release about 1.25 million tonnes of waste water collected from the bowels of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. The water to be released into the Pacific Ocean contains tritium, a radioactive hydrogen isotope with a half-life of over 12 years. The unwelcome news has provoked uproar both within Japan and among neighbouring countries

For over a decade, authorities have been engaged in a messy, difficult, frustrating, even Sisyphean task, flushing the ruined footprint of the power station with water to keep the slumped nuclear fuel there from triggering a chain reaction.The meltdowns left parlous uranium fuel in desultory clumps amid the wreckage below. The only way to cool the escaped uranium is to flood the most dangerous areas of the Fukushima Daiichi complex with circulating seawater. Radioactive groundwater and waste water have been stored on-site to avoid contact with humans and the environment.

Ever since, huge water tanks filled with contaminated water have been springing up around the Fukushima Daiichi site like poisonous mushrooms. Now, there are over 1,000 of them. Most rival the size of small Japanese apartment buildings. 

You didn’t have to be a genius to realise that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi was unsustainable. Any child who could do basic maths, or maybe a bit of Minecraft, would have been able to see that, day by day, month by month, the water would increase and the 350-hectare site would have less and less available space.Whatever else you might say about Japanese bureaucrats with regard to nuclear policy, they have very good maths skills. As a result, we can surmise that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s announcement last week was, at root, a question of politics and calculated timing

Not that Japan didn’t attempt to resolve the situation otherwise. Authorities tried a range of strategies, including plugging leaks and creating a gigantic US$300 million ice wall around the site, underground, to stem water flow.

In the end, filtering the waste water was the only workable solution. But Japan had mixed results with this strategy. In June 2011, the first filtration system set up by reviled Tepco – Tokyo Electric Power Co, the company that owned the nuclear power station – broke down after only a few hours. The amount of radioactive Caesium in the water overwhelmed the filters. 

More recently, before a parliamentary commission, Tepco was forced to admit that it had falsely claimed to have treated most of the waste water from the plant. In actual fact, Tepco had properly dealt with only about one-fifth of the waste water.

Astonishingly, this disappointing result stemmed from it not having bothered to change the filters often enough. Even such basic elements of quality control seem to be beyond the capabilities of the Tepco team, which already lives in infamy after having presided over the world’s second most damaging civil nuclear disaster, after Chernobyl. 

Predictably, scientists, officials and industry stakeholders argue that this degree of tritium discharge happens all the time in the nuclear industry – this is more or less true, however perturbing – and suggest that the announced controlled release should therefore present no problem whatsoever.

But the history of the nuclear industry globally is one of military synergies, secrecy, cover-ups, Machiavellian information management, and propaganda-style communication with the public. Indeed, it was striking that on the very same day as Suga’s announcement, Japan’s reconstruction agency released a video depicting tritium in the form of Tritium-kun, a harmless-seeming fishlike creature with blushing cheeks who says tritium release is safe.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, public opinion | 2 Comments

Legal and other problems for Japan, with growing opposition to its plan for dumping Fukushima waste-water in the ocean

FILE PHOTO: Storage tanks for radioactive water are seen at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefecture, Japan February 18, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo

Toxic reaction to Japan’s
Fukushima water dump
,  https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/toxic-reaction-japan-s-fukushima-water-dump     ARISTYO RIZKA DARMAWAN, 21 Apr 21,

Experts insist the release of treated radioactive water is not dangerous.

Legal challenges might find otherwise.

The Netflix documentary “Seaspiracy” caused a stir following its release last month, both for highlighting the serious damage human activities are causing the world’s oceans – whether from marine debris or whale hunting – and also for claims that the program features misleading statements and statistics.

But the controversy pales against the announcement last week by the Japanese government that it plans in two years to release treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean.

The contaminated water has been held in tanks since an earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the Fukushima nuclear reactor in 2011. With storage capacity predicted to run out late next year, Japan has decided to press ahead with long-speculated plans to dump treated wastewater into the sea.

Even though the Japanese government, International Atomic Energy Agency and some experts have argued that the release of the water is not dangerous and will do no harm to the ocean, there are good reasons to be concerned about the potential for environmental damage. Local Japanese, South Korean and Taiwanese fishing industries have protested the move, as have communities in the Pacific Islands. China has been scathing, with one recent op-ed in the state-run China Daily declaring “Japan cannot use the Pacific as its sewer”. The United States has been more understanding in its comments, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken praising Japan for “transparent efforts” in its decision.

But Japan may also be challenged under international law, and South Korea has already threatened legal action under international dispute settlement mechanisms.

There are at least two international treaties that regulate or ban the dumping of waste at sea: the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and the 1996 Protocol to the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972, generally referred to as the London Convention and Protocol.

UNCLOS stipulates that all parties shall cooperate in protecting the marine environment and under Article 210 explicitly requires “laws, regulations and measures shall ensure that pollution by dumping is not carried out without the permission of the competent authorities of States”.

That terminology will be debated, whether it be over the notion of “competent authorities” or indeed whether Japan’s plan amounts to “dumping”. UNCLOS defines the terminology of dumping as “any deliberate disposal at sea of wastes or other matter from vessels, aircraft, platforms or other man-made structures at sea”. Given that the proposal is to release water held on land, this may not be covered by the convention.

It may even be argued that dumping at sea is allowable under Article 8 of the London Convention and Protocol. The article stipulates that dumping is allowed during an emergency, with the provision that a party “shall consult any other country or countries that are likely to be affected”. That may explain the “transparency” of Japan providing two years notice of its intended action. Yet in this case, it is questionable whether running out of storage capacity can be considered an emergency, given the article also stipulates such action is permissible only “in emergencies posing an unacceptable threat to human health, safety, or the marine environment and admitting of no other feasible solution”. 

Regardless of how such disputes play out, however, it is also notable that neither UNCLOS nor the London Convention and Protocol have strong sanction mechanisms. Enforcement relies on either coastal states or flag states.

Neighbouring countries have reacted strongly, as have international environmental NGOs, including Greenpeace. Boycotts and bans on Japanese fisheries products have already been mooted. Unless another solution is found, Japan’s plan will continue to face a mounting tide of opposition.

April 22, 2021 Posted by | Japan, Legal, politics international | Leave a comment