nuclear-news

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

Starting the Olympic torch relay in Fukushima should remind us of the dangers of nuclear power

FILES-OLY-2020-TOKYO-JPN-JAPAN-NUCLEAR-FUKUSHIMAA woman protests against the Olympics and the government’s nuclear energy policy Feb. 29 in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where the Olympic torch relay begins this month.

March 13, 2020

VANCOUVER – If the Tokyo Olympics are held on schedule, thousands of athletes will soon come to Japan. Considering the multiple reactors that melted down there nine years ago, in March 2011, the government’s decision to start the ceremonial torch relay in Fukushima Prefecture seems a bit odd, to say the least.

While radiation levels may have declined since 2011, there are still hot spots in the prefecture, including near the sports complex where the torch relay will begin and along the relay route. The persistence of this contamination, and the economic fallout of the reactor accidents, should remind us of the hazardous nature of nuclear power.

Simultaneously, changes in the economics of alternative sources of energy in the last decade invite us to reconsider how countries, including Japan, should generate electricity in the future.

Japan is not alone in having experienced severe nuclear accidents. The 1986 Chernobyl accident also contaminated very large areas in Ukraine and Belarus. As in Japan, many people had to be evacuated; about 116,000, according to the 2000 report of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. Many of them never did return; 34 years after the accident, thousands of square kilometers remain closed off to human inhabitation.

Events such as these are, naturally, traumatic and result in people viewing nuclear power as a risky technology. In turn, that view has led to persistent and widespread public opposition around the world.

This is evident in Japan too, where opinion polls show overwhelming opposition to the government’s plans to restart nuclear plants that have been shut down. One poll from February 2019 found 56 percent of respondents were opposed to, with only 32 percent in favor of, resuming nuclear operations. Other polls show significant local opposition, one example coming out of Miyagi Prefecture. Even the Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization, which aims to promote nuclear power, finds that only 17.3 percent prefer nuclear energy, with much larger majorities preferring solar, wind and hydro power.

There is also the immense cost of cleaning up after such accidents. Estimates for the Fukushima disaster range from nearly $200 billion to over $600 billion. In 2013, France’s nuclear safety institute estimated that a similar accident in France could end up costing $580 billion. In Japan, just the cost of bringing old nuclear power plants into compliance with post-Fukushima safety regulations has been estimated at $44.2 billion.

Even in the absence of accidents and additional safety features, nuclear power is already very expensive. For the United States, the Wall Street firm Lazard estimates an average cost of $155 per megawatt-hour of nuclear electricity, more than three times the corresponding estimates of around $40 per MWh each for wind and solar energy. The latter costs have declined by around 70 to 90 percent in the last 10 years. In the face of the high costs of nuclear power — economic, environmental and public health — and overwhelming public opposition, it is puzzling that the government would persist in trying to restart nuclear power plants.

To explain his support for the technology, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claims that the country cannot do without nuclear power, especially in view of climate change concerns. The claim about the necessity of nuclear power makes little sense. Since 2011, the country has been generating only a fraction of the nuclear electricity it used to generate, and yet the lights have not gone off. Further, starting in 2015, Japan’s total greenhouse gas emissions have fallen below the levels in 2011, because of “reduced energy consumption” and the increase in “low-carbon electricity.” The latter, in turn, is because of an increasing fraction of renewable energy in electricity generation, a factor that could play an important role in the future.

Some, including the Global Energy Network Institute and a group of analysts led by Stanford University’s Mark Jacobson, argue that Japan could be 100 percent powered by renewable energy. Regardless of whether Japan reaches that goal, there is little doubt that Japan could be expanding renewable energy, and that increased reliance on renewables makes economic and environmental sense.

Instead, the Abe government seems to be involved in lowering incentives for the development of solar energy, and promoting nuclear power. Efforts by Abe to support the failing and flailing nuclear sector in Japan are indicative of the significant political power wielded by the “nuclear village,” the network of power companies, regulators, bureaucrats and researchers that controls nuclear and energy policy.

Moreover, Abenomics involves exports of nuclear components and technology, as well as conventional arms, as an important component. So far, despite many trips by Abe to various countries, Japan has yet to export any reactors in the last decade; a project with the most likely client, Turkey, collapsed because of high costs.

This suggests one possible explanation: Perhaps Abe realizes that before exporting nuclear reactors, he first has to shore up the domestic nuclear industry and prove that Japan has fully recovered from the 2011 nuclear disaster. But is that worth the risk?

Restarting nuclear reactors or constructing new ones, should that ever happen, only increases the likelihood of more nuclear accidents in the future and raises the costs of electricity. Regardless of who we cheer for at the Olympic Games, nuclear power does not deserve our applause.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2020/03/13/commentary/japan-commentary/starting-olympic-torch-relay-fukushima-remind-us-dangers-nuclear-power/?fbclid=IwAR3x4IaqlQwkdqMwg816C3CaL95O40DpbRcG6UTRbDRDm3qc63R0HvH5Cq0#.Xmx7IXJCeUl

March 20, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Shopping center opens in Naraha, a disaster-hit Fukushima town

Naraha june 26 2018.jpg
Shopping center opens in disaster-hit Fukushima town as evacuees return
June 26, 2018
Iwaki – A new shopping complex opened Tuesday in the town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, nearly three years after the government’s evacuation order following the 2011 nuclear disaster was lifted.
The public facility, dubbed “Kokonara Shotengai,” consists of 10 shops including a supermarket, a bakery and a barber’s shop.
The Chinese character meaning “laughter” was used as part of the name as a way to encourage and inspire returning residents.
The new shopping complex is adjacent to emergency public housing, a medical institution and a childcare center. It replaces a makeshift shopping district located elsewhere in the town.
Local residents welcomed the latest development in their hometown.
“I’m so glad that the opening day has come. I have been waiting for this for so long,” said 78-year-old Hisako Ishiyama, who, until March, lived in the city of Minamisoma.
Ishiyama previously had to travel by train or in her friend’s car to neighboring towns just to shop.
“Life will be easier,” she said after buying items such as a sliced raw tuna for dinner.
Evacuation orders and advisories were issued for some areas in Fukushima following the disaster. Naraha was the first on which the government lifted the evacuation order for a municipality whose entire population was ordered to evacuate in September 2015.
Most of Naraha lies within a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled nuclear plant, where three reactors experienced meltdowns after a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the eastern Japan in March 2011.
As of the end of May, 3,343 of 7,046 registered residents have returned to the town.
 
Fukushima town opens shopping center for returnees
June 26, 2018
The town of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, has opened a shopping center for the benefit of residents who have returned following the earthquake and nuclear crisis in 2011, and to encourage others to come home.
The area where the 3,300-square-meter complex is located includes public housing and medical institutions.
Ten businesses including a supermarket, hardware store and restaurants opened their doors on Tuesday.
The evacuation order in Naraha was lifted in September 2015. As of the end of May, nearly half the town’s former inhabitants had come back.
The town has begun operating free shuttle bus services between all its districts and the center to make life easier for those who return.
One woman said she’s happy that the center is accessible and that it will become a place where the townsfolk can socialize.

June 26, 2018 Posted by | Fukushima 2018 | , , | Leave a comment

Welcome to Naraha, a ghost town in Fukushima’s shadow where dolls have replaced the people

js116585081_rob-gilhooly_fukushima-town-tries-dummies-to-beat-nuclear-retreat-large_trans_nvbqzqnjv4bqhpl9wisx6qnaoahzcnrktsafkp2v-ko8rjuykyhgm3o

Dolls are positioned at the entrance to a cafe in Naraha

At first glance, the Japanese town of Naraha appears normal, if a little quiet. 

There are a handful of residents dotted about the place – a few in the post office, and some others in the bank – though several are oddly still. 

JS116585128_ROB-GILHOOLY_FUKUSHIMA-TOWN-TRIES-DUMMIES-TO-BEAT-NUCLEAR-RETREAT-large_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqrXQPXGvM58CJoUBPwmOnP_rBHlngucm5MflHTV9w6vk.jpg

A doll is positioned by the ATM inside the post office in Naraha Town, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

There are some youngsters loitering around too, but the older residents say they don’t mind as they never cause any trouble.

In fact, they say, it is nice to have some new faces around a town still struggling to come to terms with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which brought the community to its knees. 

Even if they are only dummies.

The life-sized mannequins are the work of a group of elderly women who have taken it upon themselves to “repopulate” their town, after most of its inhabitants fled during the March 2011 disaster, which took place just 12 miles away. 

These days most of Naraha former residents are scattered across the country.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/26/welcome-naraha-ghost-town-fukushimas-shadowwhere-dolls-have/

December 28, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima ‘ghost town’ uses dummies to fill sad post-3/11 void

kjlkjmkkùl.jpg

Completed dummies sit while women make another in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, on Nov. 14.

 

NARAHA, Fukushima Prefecture–Ghosts of the past are all around in this Fukushima town whose communities were decimated in the aftermath of the 2011 nuclear disaster.

Less than one-tenth of Naraha’s residents have come home since its evacuation order was lifted, but some who did return have devised a creative solution to the population problem.

Locals have formed a group to make dummies to place them around the town in lieu of the many human inhabitants who have been absent since the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster of March 2011.

The results are poignant.

All residents of Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, were ordered to evacuate the area following the triple meltdown, and were given the green light to return in September 2015.

However, only 718 residents–less than 10 percent of the town’s total population–had returned to their homes as of Nov. 4 this year.

Missing their friends and neighbors, some of the returned residents started the dummy project in June this year.

Currently, five women are making mannequins, including members of local voluntary group, Nanikashitai (“I want to do something”), which numbers about 30 members.

The women gather once a month at a former elementary school building to assemble cotton-stuffed heads, wooden frames, and arms and legs made from rolled newspapers. Then, they choose outfits and dress them.

The “ages” of the figures range from two to 85, according to the women.

So far, the women have completed 28 dummies, of which more than 10 occupy seven locations, including a financial institution and a day-care facility. When they showed them at an event in the town, they had visitors name them, and they even registered them as town residents.

We hope that the dummies will bring a smile to the faces of those who see them,” said Kaneko Takahara, 68, one of the women.

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611170053.html

November 19, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

Dumpling soup from Fukushima like grandma used to make

hjklm.jpg

“Ganimaki suiton” (front) from Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture and “mami suiton” (back) of Naraha.

The Japan Football Village (J-Village) is a soccer training facility located in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where Yoshiteru Nishi, chef for the national soccer team, works.

It is located about 20 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. After the 2011 accident at the plant, J-Village was used as a base for decommissioning work.

The green grass pitch was covered in gravel and turned into a parking lot. The restaurant was closed.

That summer, Nishi was asked to cook for the decommissioning workers. He had seen the workers eating canned or boil-in-the-bag foods.

“There are people who need my skills,” Nishi thought, and opened a cafeteria at the facility. He served a buffet of fried chicken, grilled fish, simmered dishes and more. He wanted to support those working in a grueling environment with nutritious meals.

Meanwhile, he opened a restaurant in the neighboring town of Hirono, where eating and drinking establishments remained closed due to the nuclear power plant accident.

“I wanted to create a place where the residents returning from evacuation spots can eat warm meals and feel relaxed,” the 54-year-old chef says.

The menu includes “suiton,” a local dumpling soup with chicken and vegetables that was popular at J-Village. Former national team coach Philippe Troussier once commented, “This is grandma’s taste,” and named it “mami suiton” (mommy’s suiton).

Nishi also introduced another version of suiton called “ganimaki,” a local specialty of Minami-Soma.

Ganimaki is a soup of “mokuzu-gani” (Japanese mitten crab) caught in local rivers. They are finely crushed and run through a sieve. When poured into boiling water, the essence floats up in fluffy form. In Minami-Soma, it is a dish served on festive occasions.

When he was small, Nishi would busy himself catching the deep-green-colored crabs in the river. When his mother stir-fried them with eggs, they tasted heavenly.

Due to radiation contamination caused by the Fukushima plant accident, the Japanese mitten crabs of Minami-Soma are not allowed to be consumed.

“I yearn for them all the more,” Nishi says.

For the recipe, he used crabs caught in Iwaki in southern Fukushima Prefecture.

“The food culture of Fukushima has been nurtured by the large number of people who live here,” Nishi says. “I will strive to keep the tradition alive.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201607270008.html

jklmm.jpg

The Japan Football Village (J-Village) is a soccer training facility located in Naraha, Fukushima Prefecture, where Yoshiteru Nishi, chef for the national soccer team, works.

July 27, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment