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

Rally opposes proposal for Fukushima wastewater 


July 13, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

UK Ministers losing enthusiasm for small nuclear reactors developed with China

Ministers cool on Chinese nuclear reactors  John Collingridge

Sunday July 12 2020,, The Sunday Times A Chinese-backed plan to build small nuclear reactors in Britain has been snubbed, in the latest sign of the chill in Anglo-Sino relations.

DBD, a Cheshire-based engineering firm, was working with China’s Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology to build a fleet of gas-cooled small reactors, and had hoped to win government funds. However, ministers have awarded £10m each to three rival projects — including an experimental plan for a fusion reactor. A version of the DBD reactor has already been built in China. DBD declined to comment……. (subscribers only)

July 13, 2020 Posted by | China, politics international, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, UK | Leave a comment

Movement in Japan to suspend Olympic Games

(FILES) This file photo taken on February 29, 2020 shows a protester holding placards during a demonstration against the Olympics, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and nuclear energy, near the “J-Village” which will host the start of the Olympic torch relay in Naraha, Fukushima prefecture. – The Olympic torch relay that begins in Japan this month will start from Fukushima, emphasising what the government dubs the “Recovery Olympics”, but not everyone in the region will be cheering. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP) / TO GO WITH nuclear-Fukushima-Oly-2020-JPN-Japan,FOCUS by Karyn NISHIMURA

Increasing voices in Japan for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics

Dear  Friends,

On 7th June Mr Yukio Hatoyama, former Prime Minister of Japan, addressed me a message, expressing his views on the Tokyo Olympics : ”I always thought that instead of spending money on the Tokyo Olympics, the state should use these funds for the decontamination of the affected areas and to compensate the Fukushima nuclear disaster victims.“

He has expressed deep sympathy for the athletes placed in unbearable uncertainties preparing for the postponed Olympics. He urges that the sooner the decision the better for the athletes, since we all know that the Corona pandemic will oblige the Tokyo Olympic Games to be cancelled.

This message has given rise to reactions both in Japan and abroad.As an example,I am sharing with you a mail sent to me by a Japanese living in Germany.

In addition to the Covid-19 crisis, Japan is being cruelly assailed by natural disasters, unprecedented rainfalls and subsequent floods and landslides among others.

Japan faces a national crisis.

With warmest and highest regards,

Mitsuhei Murata

(Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland)

——– Forwarded Message ——–Dear Dr Alex Dear Dr Jörg Schmid;

cc: Mr Mitsuhei Murata, Mr Etsuji Watanabe

Recently I have acquired interesting information from Mr Mitsuhei Murata, former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland, and Mr Etsuji Watanabe, a member of the ACSIR (Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned about Internal Radiation Exposures), who are two of the leading lights in the anti-nuclear movements in Japan, that there is increasing support within the Japanese society for the complete cancellation, rather than postponement of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

On 7th June Mr Yukio Hatoyama, former Prime Minister of Japan, wrote to Mr Mitsuhei Murata, expressing his views on the Tokyo Olympics : ”I always thought that instead of spending money on the Tokyo Olympics, the state should use these funds for the decontamination of the affected areas and to compensate the Fukushima nuclear disaster victims.“

Subsequently Mr Murata wrote to Mr Thomas Bach, President of the IOC in order to convey this important message :

Dear President Thomas Bach,

Please allow me to inform you of a message a sent to me yesterday from former Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama.

He has expressed deep sympathy for the athletes placed in unbearable uncertainties preparing for the postponed Olympics. He urges that the sooner the decision the better for the athletes, since we all know that the Corona pandemic will oblige the Tokyo Olympic Games to be cancelled.

In a press interview article published in January 2016,he made public his plea to consecrate maximum efforts to bringing Fukushima under control.
He has proven himself to be far-sighted. His vision for the future is in conformity with the dawning new world.

With highest and warmest regards,

Mitsuhei Murata
(Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland)

Mr Etsuji Watanabe told me that an overwhelming number of anti-nuclear activists are calling for the immediate cancellation of the Olympics. There will be demonstrations on 24th July, on which the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games were to commence, in Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo. They will be demanding to stop the Olympic Games.

Best regards,

July 13, 2020 Posted by | Japan, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

90 Coronavirus cases among India’s nuclear workers, most at Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant

Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant: Rising infections among workers, Daily Star,  Ahmed Humayun Kabir Topu, 10 July 20,  More and more workers of different sub-contracting firms at Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant in Ishwardi upazila are getting infected with the novel coronavirus.

Upazila Health Officer Dr AFM Asma Khatun said 103 people in the upazila have been diagnosed with the virus till July 6. Of them, around 90 workers were infected with Covid-19 in the last three days. The majority of the workers who tested positive for coronavirus work at Paharpur Cooling Tower Ltd, a sub-contracting firm of the Rooppur project.

The number of Covid-19 patients has increased as over 800 employees of the sub-contracting firms at the plant gave samples to the labs of different government and private institutions for Covid-19 testing in the last few days, said the doctor, adding that the number of infected workers is increasing every day.

Most of the Covid-19 patients are the workers of Paharpur Cooling Tower Ltd, a sub-contracting firm of the plant, said Dr Asma Khatun, adding that the authorities of different sub-contracting firms at Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant have collected samples of several hundred workers and sent those to the lab of a private institution in Dhaka for coronavirus testing but they are yet to get copy of the test reports from the private institution.  ……

July 11, 2020 Posted by | health, India | Leave a comment

Fukushima nuclear waste decision also a human rights issue

Fukushima nuclear waste decision also a human rights issue

 By Baskut Tuncak, KYODO NEWS – In a matter of weeks, the government of Japan will have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world how much it values protecting human rights and the environment and to meet its international obligations.

In the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, myself and other U.N. special rapporteurs consistently raised concerns about the approaches taken by the government of Japan. We have been concerned that raising of “acceptable limits” of radiation exposure to urge resettlement violated the government’s human rights obligations to children.

We have been concerned of the possible exploitation of migrants and the poor for radioactive decontamination work. Our most recent concern is how the government used the COVID-19 crisis to dramatically accelerate its timeline for deciding whether to dump radioactive wastewater accumulating at Fukushima Daiichi in the ocean.

Setting aside the duties incumbent on Japan to consult and protect under international law, it saddens me to think that a country that has suffered the horrors of being the only country on which not one but two nuclear bombs were dropped during war, would continue on a such a path in dealing with the radioactive aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster.

Releasing the toxic wastewater collected from the Fukushima nuclear plant would be, without question, a terrible blow to the livelihood of local fishermen. Regardless of the health and environmental risks, the reputational damage would be irreparable, an invisible and permanent scar upon local seafood. No amount of money can replace the loss of culture and dignity that accompany this traditional way of life for these communities.

The communities of Fukushima, so devastated by the tragic events of March 11, 2011, have in recent weeks expressed their concerns and opposition to the discharge of the contaminated water into their environment. It is their human right to an environment that allows for living a life in dignity, to enjoy their culture, and to not be exposed deliberately to additional radioactive contamination. Those rights should be fully respected and not be disregarded by the government in Tokyo.

The discharge of nuclear waste to the ocean could damage Japan’s international relations. Neighboring countries are already concerned about the release of large volumes of radioactive tritium and other contaminants in the wastewater.

Japan has a duty under international law to prevent transboundary environmental harm. More specifically, under the London Convention, Japan has an obligation to take precaution with the respect to the dumping of waste in the ocean. Given the scientific uncertainty of the health and environmental impacts of exposure to low-level radiation, the disposal of this wastewater would be completely inconsistent with the spirit, if not the letter, of this law.

ndigenous peoples have an internationally recognized right to free, prior and informed consent. This includes the disposal of waste in their waters and actions that may contaminate their food. No matter how small the Japanese government believes this contamination will be of their water and food, there is an unquestionable obligation to consult with potentially affected indigenous peoples that it has not met.

The Japanese government has not, and cannot, assure itself of meaningful consultations as required under international human rights law during the current pandemic. There is no justification for such a dramatically accelerated timeline for decision making during the covid-19 crisis. Japan has the physical space to store wastewater for many years.

I have reported annually to the U.N. Human Rights Council for the past six years. Whether the topic was on child rights or worker’s rights, in nearly each and every one of those discussion at the United Nations, the situation of Fukushima Daiichi is raised by concerned observers for the world to hear. Intervening organizations have pleaded year-after-year for the Japanese government to extend an invitation to visit so I can offer recommendations to improve the situation. I regret that my mandate is coming to an end without such an opportunity despite my repeated requests to visit and assess the situation.

The disaster of 2011 cannot be undone. However, Japan still has an opportunity to minimize the damage. In my view, there are grave risks to the livelihoods of fishermen in Japan and also to its international reputation. Again, I urge the Japanese government to think twice about its legacy: as a true champion of human rights and the environment, or not.

(Baskut Tuncak has served as U.N. special rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes since 2014.)

July 9, 2020 Posted by | civil liberties, Japan, wastes | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear future in trouble, aging reactors, and not enough money without China’s help

Britain’s Nuclear Future Uncertain as Relations With China Fray,    Rachel Morison and William Mathis, Bloomberg) 8 July 20, — Britain’s fraying relationship with China has the potential to undo a decade of mixed efforts to keep nuclear power flowing as an aging generation of plants drop out of service.

Once the heart of the U.K.’s energy plans, nuclear has been sidelined by spiraling costs and cheaper renewables. It also finds itself at the center of a diplomatic row spanning trade and human rights that threatens to undermine how the sector is financed.

Relations between China and the U.K. have been strained as the row over Huawei Technologies Co. intensified. When sweeping new national security laws were introduced in Hong Kong Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered its citizens the right to live and work in Britain.

China warned the U.K. Monday it’ll face “consequences” if it chooses to be a “hostile partner” after it emerged the government is planning to phase out the company’s equipment in the U.K.’s 5G telecommunications networks.

For nuclear, the sticking point has become the once-feted relationship with China General Nuclear Power Corp. that’s supposed to deliver the next generation of large nuclear plants. That link has come into sharp focus as the U.K. scrambles to find a funding model for projects that aren’t getting any cheaper.

Without CGN, its money and its technology, the U.K. will be left with a huge funding gap that other investors don’t seem willing to fill. It’ll also leave the country’s nuclear plans in disarray.

Equity funding for nuclear power stations is very difficult for private actors,” said Rob Gross, director of the U.K. Energy Research Centre. The risks are significant, timescales long and individual projects are very large. That’s why governments have always played a role in nuclear power, he said.

CGN’s involvement in Britain’s nuclear industry started in 2016 when a deal was signed with Electricite de France SA to cooperate on a trio of reactors totaling 8.7 gigawatts starting with Hinkley Point C in southwest England.

Nuclear remains important for the British government but it’s becoming increasingly pushed to the margins of energy policy as cheaper wind and solar have taken center stage.

Nuclear power has traditionally been seen as a low-carbon way of supplementing renewables — and as such a key part of the future energy mix envisioned in a net zero world.

Losing nuclear power probably wouldn’t pose a threat to the U.K.’s ability to generate enough power. The gap could be filled by gas, batteries or small modular reactors that can provide back-up to renewable energy and keep the lights on.

The sector is also important to the country as a way of building a large, skilled workforce and creating a supply chain using British companies.

False Starts  

In 2017, ministers envisioned building 18 gigawatts of new projects but one by one each project folded, unable to negotiate the financing, leaving just EDF and CGN.

The government’s offer in 2018 to Hitachi to take a third of the equity at the Wylfa nuclear project wasn’t enough to keep the company interested.

How best to finance the technology, which costs billions, has become the latest hump in the road for policymakers. The Hinkley Point reactors – expected to start producing power by 2025 – have been hit by delays and cost overruns.

“The precise funding model for nuclear is up to the government to decide,” an EDF spokesman said.

That project will now cost as much as 22.5 billion pounds ($28.1 billion), taking into account inflation, and the guaranteed price of power is significantly higher than the latest round of offshore wind projects. Sizewell-C, still in the planning process, is slated to cost 20 billion pounds.

EDF is struggling and can’t afford to finance Sizewell on its own. The utility has cut costs and jobs, and pared investments setting out a plan to divest at least 10 billion euros of assets from 2015 to 2020 to help fund its share of Hinkley Point.

* CGN’s investment is in the planning and development stage only for Sizewell whereas it is involved in the construction of Hinkley.

The industry favors paying for the massive projects through a Regulated Asset Base model, a proven success on other infrastructure projects. The previous Conservative government was thought to back the financing option but the idea looks to be losing traction.

“If the Chinese pull out, then Sizewell will still go ahead but EDF will be unable to take on another major project,” Elchin Mammadov, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, said “So, Bradwell will be dead or put on hold for another decade.”

The debate has gone quiet following a consultation on the RAB model which closed in October.

RAB likely wouldn’t transfer enough risk from the project’s backers — EDF and CGN. The government would have to offer some kinds of guarantee on the project in order to get private investors to finance it.

One option would be for the government to take either a majority or minority stake in Sizewell C..

I wouldn’t be surprised if what is adopted is either a model with many of the characteristics of RAB, or potentially consideration of a more direct stake. This is about reducing the cost of capital.” said Tom Greatrex, chief executive officer of the Nuclear Industry Association.

But despite the long delays, there’s no indication that the government’s made up its mind how it will proceed.

“We are currently considering responses to inform the best approach to the financing of future nuclear projects,” a spokesperson for the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said.

As much as 80% of electricity will be produced from low carbon sources by 2030, according to scenarios modeled by the U.K.’s Committee on Climate Change.

“With all but one of the nuclear fleet set to retire by 2030, and uncertainty over the scale of the new build program, it is likely that more electricity from renewable sources will be needed,” said Jonathan Marshall, head of analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

July 9, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics, UK | Leave a comment

No economic benefit in nuclear power for India

NMIMS-FPJ webinar: Nuclear energy not for countries looking at economic development, FPJ Web Desk  1 July 20, If India is looking at development by increasing power consumption, it is essential that it opts for cheaper forms of energy, stated nuclear expert M V Ramana, at a webinar ‘The future of nuclear energy’. He stressed that in such a case nuclear is not the right choice. Ramana is Director of the Liu Institute for Global Issues at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs, University of British Columbia.

 Speaking at the third session of a series ‘The future of energy’ organised by NMIMS-FPJ in association with Tata Power, Ramana said, “If you were looking at (economic) development by providing power to hundreds of villages that do not have power, then nuclear energy is a very bad choice. For development, you need cheap energy but you have (nuclear energy which is) an expensive form of energy.”

He revealed today it costs somewhere between USD 10-15 billion to build a nuclear power plant. However, the power produced by this plant is at the cost of USD 100 per MW hour. This is three times higher the cost of solar and wind energy, he added. “Solar and wind energy today are selling at USD 30-35 per megawatt hour (MWh).” After including storage costs and other costs, solar and wind energy continues to be cheaper and will cost over USD 50 per MWh.

Basically, what nuclear energy does is boil water and use the steam to drive turbines. But it is a very expensive way to boil water. And the risks involved are considerable too. And since solar and wind energy has become cheaper than nuclear energy, they have also overtaken nuclear in terms of power generation.
“Compared to nuclear energy, solar and wind energy have contributed much more in the last few years.” Solar overtook nuclear energy last year in terms of the electricity contributed to the grid. Meanwhile, wind energy overtook nuclear energy in 2012. Ramana highlighted that even though nuclear energy has been there since the 1940s, the newer technologies in solar and wind grew faster than technology in nuclear.
The contribution of nuclear energy globally is 10 per cent compared to other forms of energy. However, it was 17.5 per cent in 1996 but has declined since then as other forms of energy grew faster than nuclear energy. Meanwhile, in India, the electricity generated by nuclear power has consistently stayed between 2-4 per cent for the last 20-25 years. “As per the last figures, nuclear power contributed about 3.2 per cent of India’s power needs.”

He went on to add while nuclear plants are complicated, the fast breeder reactor is a lot more complex. Countries like the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, others had fast breeder reactors programmes, which they gave up. “For historical and sociological reasons, India has said it is a very important part of our programme and pours in a lot of resources into that. Even if you are supporting nuclear energy, this is not the technology that you should be focussing on,” he advised.

July 4, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, India | Leave a comment

Fukushima radioactive reference layer found in Northern glaciers as they thaw

Terrawatch: unearthing snow’s ‘Fukushima layer’  

Chinese glaciologists have found the freeze-thaw process has concentrated discharge from the disaster  Kate Ravilious, @katerav Wed 1 Jul 2020  The Fukushima nuclear accident has added a distinctive signature to snow and ice across the northern hemisphere, new research published in Environmental Research Letters shows. Triggered by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Japan on 11 March 2011, the disaster resulted in a month-long discharge of radioactive material into the atmosphere, ocean and soil.Feiteng Wang from the Tian Shan glaciological station in Lanzhou, China, and colleagues collected snow samples in 2011 and 2018 from a number of glaciers (spanning a distance of more than 1,200 miles (2,000km) in north-western China. They expected the Fukushima signature to have faded away by 2018, but to their surprise the freeze-thaw processing had made it more concentrated, creating a strong and lasting reference layer in the ice.

Many reference layers from the last 50 years (such as the Chernobyl nuclear disaster) have melted away in recent warming events, making it difficult to date the upper layers of ice cores. “Reference layers are crucial and a prerequisite for telling the story of the ice core,” says co-author Jing Ming. “The Fukushima layer will be useful for dating ice in one or two decades when the snow transforms to ice,” he adds.

July 2, 2020 Posted by | China, environment, radiation | Leave a comment

Many experts question Trump’s claim on China’s nuclear weapons buildup

A New Superpower Competition Between Beijing and Washington: China’s Nuclear Buildup, The Trump administration is portraying the small but increasingly potent Chinese arsenal — still only one-fifth the size of the United States’ or Russia’s — as the big new threat.  By David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, June 30, 2020

  • When negotiators from the United States and Russia met in Vienna last week to discuss renewing the last major nuclear arms control treaty that still exists between the two countries, American officials surprised their counterparts with a classified briefing on new and threatening nuclear capabilities — not Russia’s, but China’s.

…..  Many outside experts question whether China’s buildup — assessed as bringing greater capability more than greater numbers — is as fast, or as threatening, as the Trump administration insists.

The intelligence on Beijing’s efforts remains classified, a senior administration official said, noting that sharing such data is not unusual among the world’s major nuclear weapons states. But that means it was given to an adversary with whom the United States is conducting daily, low-level conflict — including cyberattacks, military probes by warplanes and Russian aggression in Ukraine. And that was before reports surfaced that a Russian military intelligence unit had put bounties on American and allied troops in Afghanistan. ……
The Russians have publicly offered a straight, five-year extension of New START, which would not require congressional approval. But Mr. Trump is clearly betting that he can find common ground with Mr. Putin in confronting the Chinese……..
Nuclear weapons are joining the panoply of issues — including trade deals, banning Chinese students and wiring the world for 5G networks — that Mr. Trump has put at the center of a series of U.S.-China standoffs. …………
 the past four presidents have abided by the treaty’s ban on nuclear tests. That may be coming to an end: Mr. Billingslea confirmed that the Trump administration had discussed “unsigning” the treaty and debated whether the United States should return to nuclear testing, which it has not engaged in since 1992. But he said there was no need to do so for now.

The United States conducted more nuclear tests during the Cold War than the rest of the world combined. Over decades of experimentation, and more than 1,000 tests, its bomb designers learned many tricks of extreme miniaturization as well as how to endow their creations with colossal destructive force. Compared with the atomic bomb that leveled Hiroshima, the nation’s first explosive test of a hydrogen bomb, in 1954, produced a blast 1,000 times as powerful.

Because of that history, many nuclear experts now argue that if Mr. Trump begins a new wave of global testing, it would aid American rivals more than the United States.

“We lose more than we gain,” Siegfried S. Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos weapons laboratory in New Mexico and now a professor at Stanford University, said in an interview. Beijing had conducted only 45 tests, he noted, and would welcome a resumption of testing to “increase the sophistication or perhaps the diversification” of its arsenal, “and that can only come back to be a national security risk for the United States.”


Activity at the desert testing site in Nevada has soared in recent years. There is new drilling, construction, equipment, employees and periodic “subcritical” tests, just below the threshold of producing a nuclear explosion.

For years, some Republicans have urged preparations for a test and poured money into the effort. One instrument now being prepared for the Nevada complex costs $800 million; it would test the behavior of plutonium.

Today, Republicans are still urging more upgrades and speedups, including at the Nevada complex. This month, Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, offered an amendment to a defense bill that would add at least $10 million to “carry out projects related to reducing the time required to execute a nuclear test.”

Top Democrats in the House told the Pentagon and the Energy Department in a recent letter that the idea of a renewal in nuclear testing was “unfathomable,” as well as “shortsighted and dangerous.”

But Mr. Billingslea thinks he succeeded in getting the Russians to think about what is happening in China, not in the Nevada desert. During his meeting last week, the Russians were taking copious notes on China’s buildup, while reviewing classified slides. He insists they want to sit down and talk more later in the summer.

They will do so without the Chinese….

July 2, 2020 Posted by | China, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Is South Korea’s nuclear industry a model for others to follow?

Jim Green, Nuclear Monitor #844, 25 May 2017,

As the nuclear power crisis has unfolded in recent months ‒ engulfing major nuclear companies and utilities in the US, Japan and France ‒ South Korea’s nuclear industry has been held up as a model for others to follow. US nuclear lobbyist Michael Shellenberger, for example, explains ‘why Korea won’: “Korea is winning the global competition to build new nuclear plants against China and Russia despite being a fraction of the size, at just 50 million people, and energy-poor. It has done so through focus: standard design, standard construction of plants, standard operation and standard regulation.”1

But South Korea’s nuclear industry is scandal-plagued, it hasn’t won any bids to build reactors overseas since 2009, and it is more than a stretch to describe it as “world class” as nuclear advocate Rod Adams would have you believe.2 Public and political support has been in freefall over the past five years because of the Fukushima disaster and a domestic nuclear corruption scandal (see the following article in this issue of the Nuclear Monitor). In the coming years, nuclear power’s contribution to domestic electricity supply is likely to decline and there is little likelihood that an export industry will flourish. Moreover, with public support for the nuclear industry in freefall, the government has little hope of achieving its aim of securing a site for a high-level nuclear waste repository by 2028.

Korea Times noted on April 21 that every major candidate in South Korea’s presidential election promised to stop building new nuclear reactors and to close down older ones.3 The winner of the May 9 presidential election, Moon Jae-in, who stood as the candidate of the Democratic Party of Korea, is a former human rights lawyer. World Nuclear News reported that Moon was one of seven presidential candidates who signed an agreement in March for a “common policy” to phase out nuclear power.4 During the election campaign, Moon said he would scrap plans for new reactors ‒ including Shin Kori units 5 and 6 ‒ while immediately closing the Wolsong-1 reactor.4 (In February 2017, the Seoul Administrative Court ordered the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission to cancel its decision to extend the lifespan of Wolsong-1 because legal procedures had not been followed in the decision-making process.) Moon also said he would block lifespan extensions for the older reactors at the Kori plant5 ‒ the four Kori reactors were grid-connected between 1977 and 1985. Continue reading

June 30, 2020 Posted by | Reference, safety, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Korea | Leave a comment


“During the eighteen months from the beginning of 2012 to mid- 2013, major corruption incidents occurred in the nuclear power industry in every country currently seeking to export nuclear reactors: the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Russia, France, and China….. “In the Korean case, systemic nuclear industry corruption was found

Supplementary Submission to the Victorian Parliament’s Standing Committee on Environment and Planning
Inquiry into Nuclear Prohibition Friends of the Earth Australia
 June 2020  – Extract 


South Korea’s reactor project in the UAE is years behind schedule: the start-up of the first reactor has not yet occurred despite initially being scheduled for 2017. The project has been promoted as a US$20 billion (A$29 billion) contract but costs have undoubtedly increased. The World Nuclear Industry Status Report gives a figure of €24.4 billion (A$40 billion).[1]


[2] KBS, 8 May 2020, ‘S. Korea Unveils Energy Plan to Reduce Coal-powered, Nuclear Power Plants’,

The following articles discuss:

  1. The endemic corruption in South Korea’s nuclear industry.
  2. The business model which sacrifices safety in order to improve economics (the CEO of French nuclear utility Areva likened Korea’s AP1400 reactor design to ‘a car without airbags and safety belts.'[1])
  3. The level of state-sponsored skullduggery associated with South Korea’s nuclear industry is almost beyond belief, even extending to a secret military side-agreement to the UAE reactor contract which was agreed without the knowledge or agreement of South Korea’s parliament

Nuclear corruption and the partial reform of South Korea’s nuclear mafia

Jim Green, Nuclear Monitor #887, 17 June 2020,

The corrupt behavior of Japan’s ‘nuclear village’ ‒ and the very existence of the nuclear village ‒ were root causes of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster and a string of earlier accidents.1 In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, academic Richard Tanter identified a worldwide pattern of nuclear corruption:2

“During the eighteen months from the beginning of 2012 to mid- 2013, major corruption incidents occurred in the nuclear power industry in every country currently seeking to export nuclear reactors: the United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Russia, France, and China. A number of other countries that operate or plan to have nuclear power plants also had major corruption cases, including Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Pakistan; moreover, serious allegations of corruption were raised in Egypt, India, Jordan, Nigeria, Slovakia, South Africa, and Taiwan.

 “In the Korean case, systemic nuclear industry corruption was found; in Canada, deep corporate corruption within the largest nuclear engineering corporation was one matter, and bribery of nuclear technology consuming countries’ senior ministers was another. In Russia, the issue was persistent, deep seated, and widespread corruption in state-owned and private nuclear industry companies, with profound implications for the safety of Russian nuclear industry exports.

South Korea is slowly phasing out its nuclear power industry. In the late 2000s, it was anticipated that South Korea’s nuclear capacity would rise from 18 gigawatts (GW) to 43 GW by 2030. The current plan is to reduce the number of reactors from a peak of 26 in 2024 to 17 reactors (approx. 17 GW) in 2034.[2] Thus the ambitions have been more than halved. In recent years the South Korean government has shut down the Kori-1 and Wolsong-1 reactors, and suspended or cancelled plans for six further reactors.

“Two cases in nuclear technology importing countries, Lithuania and Bulgaria, revealed large-scale bribery involving government, the nuclear industry, and foreign (US and Russian) companies.

 “Post-Soviet bloc geostrategic energy interests are central to both stories. The profound influence of organized crime in national energy policy, and on a transnational basis, is revealed in the Bulgarian and Russian cases. Suspicions are widespread and allegations common in the cases of India, Taiwan, and Bangladesh, but confirmed evidence remains weak.”

Since Tanter’s 2013 article, more information has surfaced regarding corruption in Russia’s nuclear industry3-4 and Russia’s nuclear dealings with India.5-7 The corruption associated with the abandoned Westinghouse nuclear power project in South Carolina is gradually coming to light.8 Corruption has been uncovered in the nuclear programs of South Africa9-15, Brazil16, Ukraine17 and, no doubt, elsewhere.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) noted in its 2015 Nuclear Technology Review that counterfeit, fraudulent and suspect items (CFSIs) “are becoming an increasing concern for operating organizations and regulators”18 And again in 2019, an IAEA report noted that CFSIs “are of increasing concern in the nuclear industry and generally throughout the industrial and commercial supply chains.”19 The 2019 report noted that CFSIs “can pose immediate and potential threats to worker safety, facility performance, the public and the environment, and they can negatively impact facility costs.”

 “Post-Soviet bloc geostrategic energy interests are central to both stories. The profound influence of organized crime in national energy policy, and on a transnational basis, is revealed in the Bulgarian and Russian cases. Suspicions are widespread and allegations common in the cases of India, Taiwan, and Bangladesh, but confirmed evidence remains weak.”

“The sequence of events that led to the station blackout began on 4 February 2012 when the management carried out a planned shutdown of the reactor for refuelling. On 9 February, the plant suffered a loss of power due to human error during a test of the main generator. After this, one of the two emergency diesel generators failed to start. The other generator was undergoing maintenance. In addition, the connection to one of the offsite auxiliary transformers failed to work as it had not been properly set up after maintenance; and the other offsite transformer was just entering maintenance. This caused a station blackout lasting 11 minutes 43 seconds. Cooling was lost for 11 minutes. The plant manager only reported the event to the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission on 12 March, more than one month later. … The plant manager justified the decision not to report the blackout on the risk of loss of public confidence and of credibility of the plant with the management of the operating company.”

Not long after, a much broader pattern of corruption began to come to light:

“Investigations of 101 companies revealed a wide range of illegal activities including bribery, overpaying, preferential treatment and favouritism, limiting competition in bidding, accepting parts with fraudulent or even no certificate, and collusion by parties in the falsification of testing reports.”

An investigation by the Korea Institute for Nuclear Safety showed that 2,114 test reports had been falsified by material suppliers and equipment manufacturers; that a further 62 equipment qualification documents (environmental and seismic qualification) were falsified between 1996 and 2012; and that a further 3,408 test reports and 53 qualification reports could not be verified or were unclear.22,23 Over 7,000 reactor parts were replaced in the aftermath of the scandal.23

Andrews-Speed details the corruption that probably had the greatest consequences for reactor safety:22

[1] Nucleonics Week (2010) : No core catcher, double containment for UAE reactors, South Koreans say, April 22, 2010.

“A very special case of systematic counterfeiting came to light in May 2013 when it was revealed that safety-grade control cable installed in four reactors had been falsely certified. The supplier of the cable was a Korean company, JS Cable. In 2004, KHNP decided for the first time to purchase cable from a domestic rather than foreign supplier. JS Cable submitted a bid to KEPCO E&C, despite not having the capability to make cable to the required specifications. KHNP awarded the contract to JS Cable with the first delivery due in 2017, on the condition that the cable met the required standards.

An investigation by the Korea Institute for Nuclear Safety showed that 2,114 test reports had been falsified by material suppliers and equipment manufacturers; that a further 62 equipment qualification documents (environmental and seismic qualification) were falsified between 1996 and 2012; and that a further 3,408 test reports and 53 qualification reports could not be verified or were unclear.22,23 Over 7,000 reactor parts were replaced in the aftermath of the scandal.23

“JS Cable chose Saehan TEP to test the cable, but this firm lacked the capacity to undertake the required loss of coolant testing. So Saehan TEP outsourced the process to the Canadian testing firm, RCM Technologies (RCMT). RCMT tested six samples, but only one passed. JS Cable sent six further samples. Only two passed, but these two samples were illegitimate as they had not been exposed to radiation before testing. In response, KHNP instructed KEPCO E&C to make the test results acceptable. So KEPCO E&C, Saehan TEP and JS cable agreed together to modify the test reports from RCMT to show that all the samples met the required standards.”

The corruption also affected South Korea’s reactor construction project in the UAE. Hyundai Heavy Industries employees offered bribes to KHNP officials in charge of the supply of parts for reactors to be exported to the UAE.24 And ‒ incredibly ‒ the reactor contract was underpinned by a secret military side-agreement, signed without the knowledge or approval of South Korea’s National Assembly, and containing a clause that does not require approval from the National Assembly to engage in conflict, should there be a request for military assistance from the UAE.25-28 The pact includes a clause that would obligate South Korea to intervene militarily to protect the UAE in the event of a crisis, in addition to the deployment of South Korean special forces and the ongoing supply of military equipment.25

Structural problems

Andrews-Speed describes the interlinking elements of South Korea’s ‘nuclear mafia’ involving nuclear power companies, research centers, regulators, government, and educational institutions. He notes that the country’s nuclear industry possesses some special features that make it particularly prone to corruption, relating to the structure and governance of the industry, and its close links with the government.

Both KHNP and KEPCO E&C are monopolists in their fields, and both suffer from poor corporate governance and weak internal management:22

“The poor corporate governance has its roots in the way in which the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy is directly involved in the management of KEPCO and its subsidiaries and in the political nature of appointments of many board members and senior managers. The weak internal management was particularly pertinent to safety because, before it was amended in 2014, the Act on Nuclear Safety and Security did not address the safety standards of parts and equipment. Thus, the selling of sub-standard components was not illegal and the task of supply chain oversight was left to KHNP to manage.”

Improvements and lingering problems

Andrews-Speed notes that the Kori-1 blackout and the systemic supply-chain corruption led to efforts to curb corruption. These included revisions to the Nuclear Safety Act giving greater powers to the newly created Nuclear Safety and Security Commission; placing new reporting obligations on all actors in the nuclear supply chain; and broader legislation and regulations governing public procurement, the conduct of public officials and corruption.

But it is doubtful whether these reforms are sufficient:22

“The principal obstacles to progress relate to power and structure. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission lacks the authority of nuclear regulators in some other countries for a number of reasons

First, after 2013 the status of the Commission Chair was reduced from Ministerial to Vice-Ministerial level and their reporting line was changed from the President to the Prime Minister. The reason for this change of status related more to the career mobility of civil servants than to the governance of nuclear safety. Nevertheless, the consequences for the authority of the Commission have been significant. It cannot now issue any regulations without the approval of the Ministry of Justice and other Ministries. This results in delay and occasional suppression of new regulations. In addition, it has been alleged that the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission redacts and sanitizes the safety reports of the Korea Institute Nuclear Safety. The consequences of this practice on safety are exacerbated by the ability of ministries, politicians and KEPCO subsidiaries to block the tough enforcement of safety standards.

“Second, the National Assembly provides little oversight of the Commission. Instead, authority lies solely with the government. Finally, the term of the Commission Chair is just three years which is shorter than that of the nation’s president which is five years. This contrasts with the situation in the USA, for example, where the Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is appointed for a five-year term, one year longer than that of the US President. As a result, Korean Presidents have significant influence over the nuclear regulator given their remit to appoint all nine members of the Commission. Taken together, these three factors enhance the power of the executive over the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

“The structural weaknesses within Korea’s nuclear industry are multiple. The Ministries of Finance and Strategy and of Trade, Industry and Energy exert excessive influence over state-owned enterprises, including KHNP and KEPCO E&C. These two corporations not only have strong monopolistic positions but KHNP combines the roles of constructor, owner and operator of nuclear power plants. In addition, KHNP exerts undue influence over KEPCO E&C. This strong triangular relationship between government and two monopolists persists today and forms the core of Korea’s ‘nuclear mafia’. Only radical structural and governance reform can address this fundamental weakness.

 “Further compounding factors include: the corporate culture of KEPCO and its subsidiaries that emphasizes the need for conformity; the weak culture of accountability that arises in part from the absence of a strong law providing for punitive damages; and the general standard of personal and corporate ethics in Korea.”

One indication of ongoing problems ‒ and efforts to resolve them ‒ was the awarding of ‘prize money’ to 14 whistleblowers in 2019 for reporting violations of nuclear or radiation safety laws to the Nuclear Safety and Security Committee.29

There were another six arrests related to nuclear corruption in 2018 ‒ an outcome that only scratched the surface of the problems according to a whistleblower.30

A recent example of violations of safety regulations occurred at the Hanbit-1 reactor on 10 May 2019. The reactor’s thermal output exceeded safety limits but was kept running for nearly 12 hours when it should have been shut down manually at once.31 In addition, the control rods were operated by a person who does not hold a Reactor Operator’s license.32

References: Continue reading

June 30, 2020 Posted by | Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Korea | Leave a comment

North Korea to ‘counter nuclear with nuclear’ against US

June 27, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Testing for radiation in Fukushima – the continued anxiety

Nine years on, Fukushima’s mental health fallout lingers

As radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident subsides, a damaging social and psychological legacy continues, Wired

By SOPHIE KNIGHT 24 June 20,  If it were not illegal, Ayumi Iida would love to test a dead body. Recently, she tested a wild boar’s heart. She’s also tested the contents of her vacuum cleaner and the filter of her car’s air conditioner. Her children are so used to her scanning the material contents of their life that when she cuts the grass, her son asks, “Are you going to test that too?”

Iida, who is 35, forbids her children from entering the sea or into forests. She agonises over which foods to buy. But no matter what she does, she can’t completely protect her children from radiation. It even lurks in their urine.

“Maybe he’s being exposed through the school lunch,” she says, puzzling over why her nine-year-old son’s urine showed two-and-a-half times the concentration of caesium that hers did, when she takes such care shopping. “Or maybe it’s from the soil outside where he plays. Or is it because children have a faster metabolism, so he flushes more out? We don’t know.”

Iida is a public relations officer at Tarachine, a citizens’ lab in Fukushima, Japan, that tests for radioactive contamination released from the 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Agricultural produce grown in the area is subject to government and supermarket testing, but Tarachine wants to provide people with an option to test anything, from foraged mushrooms to dust from their home. Iida tests anything unknown before feeding it to her four children. Recently, she threw out some rice she received as a present after finding its level of contamination – although 80 times lower than the government limit – unacceptably high. “My husband considered eating it ourselves, but it’s too much to cook two batches of rice for every meal. In the end we fed it to some seagulls.”

Tarachine is one of several citizen labs founded in the wake of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, which obliterated a swathe of the country’s northwest coast and killed more than 18,000 people. The wave knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, triggering a meltdown in three of the reactor cores and hydrogen explosions that sprayed radionuclides across the Fukushima prefecture. More than 160,000 people were forced to evacuate. A government decontamination programme has allowed evacuation orders to be lifted in many municipalities, but one zone is still off limits, with only short visits permitted.

Driven by a desire to find out precisely how much radiation there was in the environment and where, a group of volunteers launched Tarachine in Iwaki, a coastal city that escaped the worst of the radioactive plume and was not evacuated, through a crowdfunding campaign in November 2011. It is now registered as a non-profit organisation, and runs on donations.

In a windowless room controlled for temperature and humidity and dotted with screens showing graphs, two women sort and label samples, either collected by staff or sent in by the public: soil from back gardens, candied grasshoppers, seawater. In the beginning, mothers sent in litres of breastmilk. Tarachine initially charged a tenth of what a university lab would charge to make the testing accessible to as many people as possible; last year, they made it free.

To test for caesium-137, the main long-term contaminant released from the plant, staff finely chop samples and put them inside a gamma counter, a cylindrical grey machine that looks like a centrifuge. Tarachine’s machines are more accurate than the more commonly accessible measuring tools: at some public monitoring posts, shoppers can simply place their produce on top of a device to get a reading, but this can be heavily skewed by background radiation (waving a Geiger counter over food won’t give an accurate reading for the same reason). Tarachine tries to get as precise readings as possible; the lab’s machines give results to one decimal place, and they try to block out excess background radiation by placing bottles of water around the machines.

Measuring for strontium, a type of less penetrative beta radiation, is even more complicated: the food has to first be roasted to ash before being mixed with an acid and sifted. The whole process takes two to three days. Tarachine received training and advice from university radiation labs around the country, but the volunteers had to experiment with everyday food items that scientists had never tested. “There was no recipe like ‘Roast the leaf for two hours at so-and-so Celsius’, you know?” says Iida. “If it’s too burnt it’s no good. We also had to experiment with types of acid and how much of the acid to add.”

Japanese government standards for radiation are some of the most stringent in the world: the upper limit of radioactive caesium in food such as meat and vegetables is 100 becquerels per kilogram, compared with 1,250 in the European Union and 1,200 in the US (the becquerel unit measures how much ionizing radiation is released due to radioactive decay). Many supermarkets adhere to a tighter limit, proudly advertising that their produce contains less than 40 becquerels, or as few as 10. Tarachine aims for just 1 becquerel.

“How I think about it is, how much radiation was there in local rice before the accident? It was about 0.01 becquerel. So that’s what I want the standard to be,” says Iida. Continue reading

June 25, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, radiation, social effects | Leave a comment

Across Asia-Pacific, trust in govts rose, except in Japan


June 22, 2020

People’s trust in the governments of the Asia-Pacific rose, following a global pattern, except for Japan, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer Spring Update.

Trust in the government rose in China, India and South Korea, but declined by 5 points in Japan to 38 per cent, in Edelman’s Trust Barometer Spring Update report.

“The outlier in Asia, and indeed the world, is Japan,” noted Mr Stephen Kehoe, president and chief executive officer of Edelman’s Asia Pacific operations.

“Forced to reckon with early global attention due to the cruise ship stranded in the port of Yokohama, Japan appears to have learned few lessons from this crisis, or indeed, in the nine years since Fukushima,” he said in an article on Edelman’s website, referring to the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess stranded in Yokohoma in February, with 3,700 people and crew on board. In the end, slightly over 700 people were found to be infected while 13 died, earning the government criticism for the delay in handling those infected.

“This, perhaps combined with the delayed decision to impose a state of emergency and subsequent reported missteps in the distribution of personal protective equipment, has resulted in a near-total collapse of confidence by the Japanese in their government to handle the ongoing crisis,” he added.

The March 2011 triple disaster in Fukushima of a tsunami, earthquake and an accident at the Daiichi nuclear power plant left more than 20,000 people dead or missing.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been rapped for his handling of the coronavirus situation. A poll by public broadcaster NHK from May showed his approval rating had dropped to 37 per cent while another poll by Mainichi Shimbun showed his approval rating was only 27 per cent.

Elsewhere in Asia, people showed more trust in their governments, with the level in China up five points to 95 per cent, India (up 6 points to 87 per cent), and South Korea (up 16 points to 67 per cent).

Those surveyed also showed a high tolerance of government surveillance for public safety. The level in China was 30 points ahead of the global average (at 61 per cent), while in India it was 17 points over, and in South Korea, it was in line with the global average.

“Japan’s appetite for surveillance is the lowest in our sample at 44 per cent, continuing to reflect long-held beliefs around constitutional freedom, which date back to the aftermath of World War II,” noted Mr Kehoe.



June 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

It’s Not Techno-Angst That’s Driving East Asia to Abandon Nuclear Power

In the East Asian democracies, nuclear energy is tied to an increasingly unpopular political and economic model.

klmmùWorkers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant pose for portraits on Feb. 23, 2016, in Okuma, Japan.


June 17, 2020

Western discussions about nuclear energy in East Asia usually start with the Fukushima disaster and end with efforts to address climate change. But anti-nuclear sentiment in Asia looks nothing like that in the West, where it was birthed during the Jane Fonda era and is still based on long-debunked claims about the intrinsic dangers of accidents and nuclear waste. The techno-angst and apocalyptic fears that have always animated Western environmentalism are largely foreign to Asian discussions of nuclear energy, climate change, and similar environmental concerns.The techno-angst and apocalyptic fears that have always animated Western environmentalism are largely foreign to Asian discussions of nuclear energy and climate change. After all, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that led to a meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, it was Germany—not Japan—that immediately decided to permanently phase out nuclear power, even if it meant that its carbon emissions would rise.

Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan may nonetheless take a decisive turn against nuclear power. The reasons have little to do with public fears of nuclear energy but are tied to long-standing demands for political and economic reform. That’s because the nuclear industry in each of these three countries is tied to a highly contested political and economic model that the reformers are pressing to change.

In April, the anti-nuclear Democratic Party of Korea swept to the most dominating electoral victory in South Korean history. In January, Taiwan’s reform-minded Democratic Progressive Party, which has proposed phasing out the country’s nuclear power stations, also won by a landslide. Meanwhile, both Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), the country’s last major pro-nuclear party, face worsening poll numbers as a major election approaches in 2021.

The proximate causes of these political shifts have little to do with nuclear or environmental policies. South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s smashing victory followed his exemplary management of the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In Taiwan, it was China’s brutal crackdown on dissent in Hong Kong that heavily tipped the scales in favor of the Democratic Progressive Party, which has taken a far more defiant position on relations with China than its main rival, the Kuomintang. Japan’s LDP is languishing in the polls because of its failure to revitalize the country’s long-stagnant economy, a task made all the more challenging by the pandemic.

Dig a little deeper, however, and the same underlying political dynamics have undermined support for nuclear energy. In all three nations, the nuclear power sector has become closely identified with long-entrenched political parties and the power of state bureaucracies and industry groups over economic life. Fukushima undoubtedly amplified anti-nuclear sentiment in the region, but opposition to nuclear power has been a proxy for political and economic reform for decades.

In all three nations, state-led nuclear energy development took place during prolonged periods of political dominance by conservative parties with strong ties to industry and business interests. In the aftermath of the Chinese Civil War in the 1940s and the Korean War in the 1950s, respectively, South Korea and Taiwan were led by authoritarian governments that focused on economic development while severely restricting political freedoms. South Korea only held its first free elections in 1988; Taiwan followed in 1992. While Japan has conducted democratic elections since the 1950s, the LPD has maintained nearly continuous control.

The nuclear industries of Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan are thus the product of authoritarian or de facto one-party states, where the ruling party passed control over the energy sector (and many other parts of the economy) to state-owned corporations, government-issued monopolies, or quasi-cartels of favored companies. State-owned Taiwan Power Company controlled Taiwan’s power sector until the electricity market became more liberalized after 1995. In South Korea, the government-operated Korea Electric Power Corporation still holds a monopoly on power generation and grid infrastructure; one of its subsidiaries, Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power, operates all nuclear reactors. In Japan, the power sector consists of 10 regional monopolies that operate in close coordination with the powerful Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry.

And just as the nuclear establishment was part and parcel of postwar economic planning by what were effectively one-party states, opposition to that establishment has become a cause for those who demand political and economic reform.

Evolving nuclear policies in East Asia reflect a changing balance of power that is likely to persist. In Taiwan, the conservative Kuomintang’s aging demographic base and support for closer ties with mainland China now appears out of touch with a younger electorate increasingly distrustful of China and hostile to reunification. In South Korea, demographic shifts and evolving public opinion have favored reforms on issues ranging from diplomacy with North Korea to checks on powerful corporations. In both South Korea and Taiwan, successful responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have boosted the credibility of reformist leaders.

Even as the nuclear issue is taken up by reform parties, public support for nuclear energy remains strong in South Korea and Taiwan, and has been growing again in Japan.The political situation in Japan, by contrast, is more uncertain. With the pandemic set to erase the LDP’s recent successes in controlling the national debt and boost the economy, the party also faces a leadership transition when Abe steps down after his current term as prime minster, as he must according to LDP rules. But anti-nuclear opposition parties remain weak and have almost no record of winning national elections, let alone governing—an enormous disadvantage at a moment when the economy is struggling, China has reemerged as the region’s dominant power, and the public health crisis is far from over.

Even as the nuclear issue is taken up by reform parties, public support for nuclear energy remains strong in South Korea and Taiwan, and has been growing again in Japan. In Taiwan, 59 percent of voters supported a 2018 referendum to retain the nation’s nuclear power stations. In South Korea, support for nuclear energy dipped in the wake of Fukushima but has since rebounded to around 70 percent. Opinion in Japan remains divided, but support has slowly rebounded since the Fukushima accident.

June 22, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment