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Interview: Opposition mounts to planned release of Fukushima water into Pacific, says British expert

Professor David Copplestone on the left

Xinhua, May 13, 2022

LONDON, May 12 (Xinhua) — A leading British nuclear industry expert has called for a detailed consultation over the Japanese government’s plans to release more than a million tonnes of contaminated water from the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station into the Pacific Ocean.

The concerns “should be listened to and should be considered and discussed with those who are raising those concerns,” Professor David Copplestone, a renowned expert in environmental radioactivity at the University of Stirling in the United Kingdom, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.

In April last year, the government of Japan decided to release about 1.25 million tonnes of waste water into the ocean in 30 years starting in 2023. The contaminated water contains radioactive cesium, strontium, tritium and other radioactive substances.

The move drew the ire of local fishermen. Opposition parties, including the Constitutional Democratic Party (CDP) of Japan, also criticized the plan and demanded its withdrawal.

“There have been impacts on the fishing industry related to the incident back in 2011,” said Copplestone, who has visited Fukushima and has undertaken extensive research worldwide with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

In his opinion, “there are reputational, social and economic impacts that have occurred primarily because, quite often, people become fearful of consuming fish from these areas that may be contaminated.”

On March 11, 2011, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. An ensuing tsunami engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi plant, causing core meltdowns in three of the units and leading to the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

Eleven years after this disaster, the aftermath of the meltdown, along with the large amount of contaminated water, continue to cause headaches to Japan and the rest of the world.

Japan has claimed that the contaminated water could be diluted and discharged, but several local and international green activists have said that the claim repeatedly proved wrong as the purification equipment cannot eliminate radioactive materials completely.

“One of the main concerns here is the presence of tritium, which is a hydrogen element that is radioactive as an isotope. It is very difficult to separate it from the contaminated water,” Copplestone said.

“If we want to dispose of that water, we have to think about ways to first get rid of the radionuclides in that water — if at all this is possible. Unfortunately, it is not possible to remove tritium from that water,” he noted.

According to Copplestone, “this is about holding a really open dialogue to educate people about the consequences of the planned release.”

“It’s really important for the Japanese government to engage in dialogue with those voicing their concerns, and to listen to those concerns,” he said.

http://www.china.org.cn/world/Off_the_Wire/2022-05/13/content_78215480.htm

May 15, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

IAEA sees ‘limited impact’ of water release at Fukushima nuclear plant

Another smooth propaganda article from the spin doctors…..

Radioactive water at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant is being treated through an advanced liquid processing system that removes radionuclides except for tritium.

Apr 30, 2022

An International Atomic Energy Agency team expects only a limited impact on humans following the planned release into the sea of treated radioactive water from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled nuclear power plant.

Chemical substances in the treated water are “far below the Japanese regulatory limits,” said the first report by the IAEA task force reviewing Japan’s plans to discharge the water from the meltdown-stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant into the Pacific Ocean.

But the team stopped short of reaching a conclusion on the safety of the release. The team plans to continue its assessment and announce a final judgment before Tepco starts releasing the water.

The task force, comprising a group of independent and highly recognized experts with diverse technical backgrounds from various countries, said that Japan’s preparations for the planned discharge are proceeding largely in line with international safety standards. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said that Japan has made “significant progress in its preparations” and the task force is satisfied that Tepco and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry have identified the appropriate next steps for the water discharge.

The task force visited Japan in February, inspecting the power plant and interviewing Tepco and government officials. In the report, the task force said that its review of the water release plans focuses on eight points including radiological environmental impact assessment, water quality monitoring and involvement of interested parties.

Water that has become contaminated after being pumped in to cool melted reactor fuel at the plant has been accumulating at the complex, also mixing with rainwater and groundwater at the site.

Tepco expects that its storage tanks for treated water will reach full capacity by around summer or autumn 2023.

The water is treated through an advanced liquid processing system that removes radionuclides except for tritium. The water will be released 1 kilometer off the coast of the power plant through an underwater tunnel.

Before the discharge, it will be diluted with seawater below 1/40 of the current regulations, according to the government.

In a statement issued Friday, industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said the government will continue its efforts to “ensure the safety of handling … treated water and to foster understanding both in Japan and abroad.”

China and South Korea have expressed concerns with Japan’s plan to release the treated water.

Local fishermen have been widely opposed to the release out of fear of reputational damage to the region’s seafood, although a recent survey showed that the release’s impact on consumer habits would be minimal.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/04/30/national/iaea-fukushima-water-release-safety/

May 1, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s Toxic Dumping Faces Growing Protests

April 29, 2022 by Robert Hunziker

The Japanese government’s decision one year ago to dump radioactive water from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant storage tanks into the Pacific Ocean, starting in the spring of 2023, is facing increasing pressure to back off, especially in light of the facts that not only is it illegal but also morally reprehensible as well as a despicable disregard for the lifeblood of the ocean.

Meanwhile, in a startling maneuver indicative of desperation to convince citizens of its true worthiness, the Japanese government is using mind control tactics reminiscent of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (Chatto & Windus, 1932), which depicts harmful effects that the expansion and development of a capitalist ideology can impose on a society.

To wit: Japanese citizens are outraged over a new government policy of brainwashing children by distributing flyers to primary school students claiming TEPCO’s “diluted, nuclear-contaminated water is safe.”

“The government sent a total of 2.3 million booklets directly to elementary, junior and senior high schools across the nation in December in an effort to prevent reputational damage caused by the planned water discharge. The school staffers say the leaflets are unilaterally imposing the central government’s views on children.” (Source: Booklets Touting Fukushima Plant Water Discharge Angers Schools, The Asahi Shimbun, March 7, 2022)

“A Fukushima resident surnamed Kataoka told the Global Times on Wednesday that the Japanese government’s move was a kind of mind control, and she was strongly opposed to it.” (Source: Japanese Groups Voice Growing Opposition, Organize Rallies Over Govt’s Nuclear-Contaminated Water Dumping Plan Decided One Year Before, Global Times, April 13, 2022)

Japanese citizens are fighting back as four separate civic organizations from Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures submitted a petition signed by 180,000 people to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and to Tokyo Electric Power Company on March 30th 2022 expressing opposition to the government’s plan.

Additionally, Japanese environmental protection groups have organized national rallies in Tokyo and Fukushima, stating they will continue to rally in the streets until the government revokes its decision: “Once the nuclear-contaminated water is discharged into the sea, the result is irreversible. It’s not only Fukushima. The ocean connects the whole world. We hope we don’t discharge toxic substances into the sea,” said protester Ayumu Aoyanagi. “I am angry. They completely ignored public opinion. I hope people understand that the danger may not appear soon but will definitely affect our health in the future,” said another protester named Makiyo Takahashi.” (Source: Fukushima Residents Oppose Government Dumping Radioactive Water Into Ocean, CGTN News, April 14, 2022)

Zhao Lijian of the Chinese Foreign Ministry claims the Japanese government has turned a deaf ear to any and all opposition, failing to provide any convincing evidence of the legitimacy of the discharge program, no reliable data on the contaminated water and effectiveness of purification devices, and no convincing evidence about environmental impact. (Source: Japan Severely Breaches Obligations Under International Law by Persisting in Discharge of Nuclear-contaminated Water Into Ocean, People’s Daily Online, April 15, 2022)

Moreover, “this water adds to the already nuclear polluted ocean. This threatens the lives and livelihoods of islanders heavily reliant on marine resources. These include inshore fisheries as well as pelagic fishes such as tuna. The former provides daily sustenance and food security, and the latter much needed foreign exchange via fishing licenses for distant water fishing nation fleets,” Vijay Naidu, adjunct professor at the School of Law and Social Sciences at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji, told Al Jazeera. (Source: ‘Not a Dumping Ground’: Pacific Condemns Fukushima Water Plan, Al Jazeera, Feb. 14, 2022)

The principal radioactive isotope to be released “tritium is a normal contaminant from the discharges, the cooling water from normal reactor operations, but this is the equivalent of several centuries worth of normal production of tritium that’s in this water, so it is a very large amount,” according to Tilman Ruff, a Nobel laureate and associate professor at the Institute for Global Health at the University of Melbourne in Australia, Ibid.

Japan claims the radioactive water dump will be safe, however: “Obviously, the higher the level of exposure [to radiation], the greater the risk, but there is no level below which there is no effect,” Ruff said. “That is now really fairly conclusively proven, because in the last decade or so there have been impressive very large studies of large numbers of people exposed to low doses of radiation. At levels even a fraction of those that we receive from normal background [radiation] exposure from the rocks, from cosmic radiation. At even those very low levels, harmful effects have been demonstrated,” Ibid.

Chang Yen-chiang, director of the Yellow Sea and Bohai Sea Research Institute of Dalian Maritime University is urging the international community to stop the discharge by first requesting the International Court of Justice to issue an advisory opinion on the illegality of Japan’s dumping plan followed by motions to stop the process by China, South Korea, Russia, North Korea, and Pacific Island nations at the UN General Assembly.

Japan, as a signatory to: (1) the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (2) the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident (3) the Convention on Nuclear Safety (4) the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management, and (5) the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management has clearly and knowingly breached its obligations under international law.

According to the plan released by TEPCO for the disposal of nuclear-contaminated water generated by Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the country will soon begin official preparations for the release of the contaminated water and plans to begin long-term discharge of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean in the spring of 2023.

However, according to an article in People’s Daily Online d/d April 15, 2022: “Data from TEPCO showed that the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear accident still contains many kinds of radionuclides with a long half-life even after secondary treatment.”

Shaun Burnie, senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace East Asia claims the toxic water dump risks additional nuclear debris into the Pacific Ocean whereas the discharge is not the only option as “ the Japanese government once admitted that there is enough space near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and areas around Fukushima prefecture to build more storage facilities for the water.” (Global Times)

The Citizens Committee on Nuclear Energy recommends proper storage on land in Japan similar to storage the country uses for its national oil and petroleum reserves. “The argument that they make… is that, if this water was stored not for an indeterminate period, but even for a period of about 50-60 years, then, by then, the tritium will have decayed to a tiny fraction of what it is today and hardly be an issue.” (Al Jazeera)

Even though the US boldly approves of the dumping plan, the Northern Mariana Islands, a US territory with a population of over 50,000 people, has declared Japan’s plan as “unacceptable.” In December 2021, the US territory adopted a joint resolution opposing any nation disposing of nuclear waste in the Pacific Ocean as well as suggesting the only acceptable option is long-term storage and processing using the best technology available.

In all similar circumstances, historical events have a way of swinging back and forth in time and landing smack dab in the middle of new controversies, for example, when it comes to radioactivity in the Pacific, memories are long. More than 300 atmospheric and underwater nuclear tests by the US, UK, and France from the 1940s, especially in the Republic of the Marshall Islands and French Polynesia, left uninhabitable land in many locations as well as long-term health disorders throughout the region. Japan’s dumping plans bring back haunting memories.

“Satyendra Prasad, the Chair of Pacific Islands Forum Ambassadors at the United Nations, reminded the world in September last year of the Pacific’s “ongoing struggle with the legacy of nuclear testing from the trans boundary contamination of homes and habitats to higher numbers of birth defects and cancers.” (Al Jazeera)

Meantime, and especially over the past couple of decades, Japan increasingly and fearlessly adheres to, and puts into actual practice, the overriding theme as expressed in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, which is “the dangers of state control” whilst the father of liberalism John Locke (1632-1704) not surprisingly spins in his grave.

For example, in December 2013 Japan passed the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets Act providing for whistleblowing civil servants to face up to 10 years in prison and the journalists who work with them could face up to five years for leaking state secrets.

Here’s a major twist to that law: The guidelines empower the heads of 19 ministries and agencies to subjectively “designate which documents and subjects comprise state secrets.” In short, subjective judgment by any given state official determines who goes to jail.

“The result is that while civil servants will be aware of a document’s classification, journalists cannot be sure just what comprises a state secret. Whistleblowing civil servants and journalists could face arrest even if they are convinced they are acting in the public’s interest.” (Source: Japan’s State Secrets Law, A Minefield for Journalist, Committee to Protect Journalists-NY, Nov. 4, 2014)

Since Japan appears to be adhering to the precepts of Brave New World, it’s interesting to note that thirty years following publication of Brave New World, Huxley wrote Brave New World Revisited: “If the first half of the twentieth century was the era of the technical engineers, the second half may well be the era of the social engineers— and the twenty-first century, I suppose, will be the era of World Controllers, the scientific caste system and Brave New World.” (Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, Harper & Brothers, 1958)

Huxley warned that a Brave New World type of order could be the “final” or “ultimate” revolution when people have their liberties taken from them, but “they will enjoy their servitude and so never question it, let alone rebel.”

Really?

May 1, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , , | Leave a comment

Japan severely breaches obligations under international law by persisting in discharge of nuclear-contaminated water into ocean

April 15, 2022

Japan is being extremely selfish and irresponsible by willfully clinging to its decision to release nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean in disregard of the strong opposition of the international community.

Its despicable act constitutes gross infringement of the legitimate rights and interests of its neighboring countries, severe breach of international justice and its obligations under international law, and major threat to the marine environment and the right to health of people around the world.

On April 13, 2021, the Japanese government unilaterally decided to dump a massive amount of nuclear-contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) into the ocean despite doubts and opposition from home and abroad.

One year has passed since Japan announced the erroneous decision and the country still hasn’t realized how terrible a mistake it is. According to a plan recently released by TEPCO for the disposal of nuclear-contaminated water generated by Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the country will soon begin official preparations for the release of the contaminated water and plans to begin long-term discharge of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean in the spring of 2023.

While Japan opted for the discharge of the contaminated water into the ocean, an option with the least economic cost to itself, it posed the biggest environmental health and safety risk to the world. What an act of selfish calculation!

Data from TEPCO showed that the contaminated water from the Fukushima nuclear accident still contains many kinds of radionuclides with a long half-life even after secondary treatment.

Japan plans to release more than one million tons of nuclear-contaminated water over a period of 30 years. The amount it intends to discharge, the duration of the release, the sea area covered, and potential risks that can be generated by the activity are all unprecedented.

The decision has aroused deep concerns and strong opposition from all sectors of society even at home. About 180,000 people in Japan recently signed a petition against the decision to dump nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. Several organizations in Japan, including the National Federation of Fisheries Cooperative Associations, have reiterated their opposition to the decision.

According to an article published on Fukushima Minpo, a newspaper based in Fukushima prefecture of Japan, the Japanese government should respect the opinions of its citizens, listen to the voices of local residents, and terminate the plan to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean.

As a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident, the Convention on Nuclear Safety, and the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, Japan has knowingly breached its obligations under international law.

It didn’t conduct full consultation with its neighboring countries and other stakeholders before announcing its decision to discharge nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. After its announcement of the decision, many countries, including China, South Korea, Russia, and the Philippines, as well as relevant international institutions, have expressed concerns over the issue and raised doubts and concerns with the Japanese side over the legitimacy of the discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, the rationality of the discharge plan, the credibility of data about the nuclear contaminated water and the reliability of the equipment to purify the nuclear-contaminated water.

However, to this day, Japan has yet to give a full and credible explanation for its decision and serious responses to relevant doubts and concerns.

People in Japan’s neighboring countries and countries on the Pacific Rim have rights to health and life as well as the environment. Japan, on the other hand, wants to make short-term money at the expense of these rights.

The United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council released a report urging that the Japanese government should face up to its responsibility for the disposal of nuclear-contaminated water.

In a joint statement, U.N. human rights experts said that Japan’s decision to release contaminated water from the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean is “particularly disappointing” and “very concerning”.

“The release of one million tons of contaminated water into the marine environment imposes considerable risks to the full enjoyment of human rights of concerned populations in and beyond the borders of Japan,” they said in the joint statement.

The international community has frequently expressed voices of justice, such as “The Pacific is not a dumping ground for radioactive waste water” and “keep our Pacific nuclear-free”. However, Japan has turned a deaf ear to all of them.

In this February, a technical working group of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited Japan for the first time and raised many questions to the Japanese side about its controversial plan to release radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean. Evaluation of the disposal of the nuclear-contaminated water at the Fukushima nuclear power plant is still in progress.

Surprisingly, Japan has not only ignored the concerns of various parties over the discharge of its nuclear-contaminated wastewater, but preset results for the evaluation conducted by the IAEA technical working group. The country repeatedly concealed information and covered up the truth.

When doubts about its decision to dump radioactive water into the ocean poured in, the country made no attempt to reflect on the legitimacy of the decision and correct its mistake, but blamed those who doubted its decision for damaging its reputation.

The Japanese side should know that no matter what it does to whitewash the plan to release the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, it would only increase the international community’s concerns.

The disposal of the nuclear-contaminated water is never Japan’s private matter. Instead, it bears on the marine environment and public health of the whole world.

Japan should pay careful attention to and respond to the concerns of its neighboring countries and other members of the international community, stop pushing forward with preparations for the discharge of the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean, and withdraw its erroneous decision, so as to avoid further damage to its credibility.

(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)

http://en.people.cn/n3/2022/0415/c90000-10084515.html

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Japan’s planned release of radioactive wastewater draws concern.

April 14, 2022

It’s been exactly one year since the Japanese government announced its decision to continuously release Fukushima’s radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. Concerns and protests were heard in #Japan and beyond. #nuclear#environment

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Protests in various locations demanding withdrawal of ocean discharge of treated water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.

Participants appeal for the withdrawal of the policy of discharging treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean on April 13, 2022, in Nagatacho, Tokyo.

April 13, 2022
On the 13th, one year after the government decided to discharge treated water from TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (Okuma and Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture) into the ocean, protests were held in various locations, with participants calling for the withdrawal of the policy.
 In front of the House of Representatives building in Nagata-cho, Tokyo, about 40 people participated in response to a call from the “Sayonara NPP 10 Million People Action Executive Committee” and other groups. Holding up banners, they shouted “Don’t pollute the sea in Fukushima” and “Listen to the voices of the people of Fukushima.
 The participants made speeches in turn toward the Diet building. Taeko Fujimura, 67, a member of the National Trade Union Liaison Council, criticized the government and TEPCO, saying, “The government and TEPCO promised the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries Federation that they would not discharge the waste into the ocean without their understanding, but they unilaterally decided on the policy and have not explained it in good faith to the public. No matter how much we dilute it with seawater, it is inevitable that a large amount of radioactive materials will spread into the ocean. There must be something more that can be done, such as finding a way to continue storing the radioactive materials instead of discharging them.
 Toshihiro Inoue, 63, a member of the executive committee secretariat, said, “The government has forcibly decided on this policy, and even after a year, it has not withdrawn it in spite of opposition. The global environment must not be further destroyed by radioactive pollution. Let’s continue to raise our voices in opposition.
 The executive committee held protests at more than 10 locations in Tokyo and eight prefectures in Saitama, Yamagata, Aichi, Osaka, Okayama, Fukuoka, and Kagoshima.
 The environmental group FoE Japan also held an online press conference on the same day, calling for storage of the treated water in large tanks and solidification with cement. Don’t pollute the sea any more!” Chiyo Oda, co-chairperson of the “Citizens’ Council,” said, “Once released, it is irreversible. Artificially spreading radioactive materials will spread the effects of the accident and must not be tolerated. (Kenta Onozawa)
https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/171455?rct=national&fbclid=IwAR3yz25OB-5W85giS7pp3nPYRVtzYjdQOFoIhsB92n7co9wkYzDe0nM8WoQ

April 17, 2022 Posted by | Fuk 2022 | , , | Leave a comment

Rally opposes proposal for Fukushima radioactive wastewater

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July 12, 2020

Dozens of young people in Japan’s Fukushima Prefecture have rallied against a government panel’s proposal on how to dispose of radioactive wastewater stored at the crippled Daiichi nuclear power plant.

About 50 people, including fisheries workers, marched through Koriyama City on Sunday.

The demonstration was organized by a group of Fukushima residents in their 20s and 30s, who said detrimental rumors about the prefecture may circulate if the wastewater is disposed of improperly.

Group representative Sato Taiga said a survey shows that most respondents do not know about the issue. He added that he hopes the group’s activities will raise awareness among people, including the younger generation.

Water used to cool molten nuclear fuel from the 2011 accident at the plant has most of the radioactive materials removed before being stored in tanks. But the treated water still contains tritium and some other radioactive substances.

The amount stored has reached some 1.2 million tons. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, expects to reach capacity around the summer of 2022.

In February, a government panel compiled a report that says a realistic solution is releasing the wastewater into the sea or air after diluting it in compliance with environmental and other standards.

The government is in the process of hearing opinions from local governments and relevant organizations before making its final decision on how to dispose of the treated water.

https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200713_04/

July 16, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Proposed storage of spent nuclear fuel sparks resistance in Aomori Pref. City

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The Recyclable-Fuel Storage Co. interim storage facility is seen fenced off in Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture, on March 6, 2018
March 22, 2018
The selection of a site to house an interim storage facility for spent fuel from nuclear power plants operated by Kansai Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) has run into rough waters. In January, the Aomori Prefecture city of Mutsu surfaced as a candidate, but resistance quickly emerged from locals.
 
With KEPCO’s nuclear power plants being concentrated in Fukui Prefecture, the prefectural government has set a basic premise of storing spent nuclear fuel outside the prefecture. The utility aims to announce a candidate site this year, but there remains fierce opposition to accepting nuclear fuel from other prefectures, and because of this, its prospects of settling on a site are unclear.
 
After a 20-minute drive along a national route from central Mutsu during a visit by the Mainichi Shimbun in early March, an imposing fence could be seen along a snowy field. Beyond the fence was a square building — an interim storage facility that is being built by Recyclable-Fuel Storage Co. (RFS), a company founded by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. and Japan Atomic Power Co. The facility’s storage capacity is around 3,000 tons of spent fuel. There are plans to build a second building in the future.
 
In January, this facility gained nationwide attention. As the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) came to the final stage of its screening of the facility, news organizations reported that KEPCO was considering transporting spent nuclear fuel from its plants to the facility.
 
Mutsu Mayor Soichiro Miyashita immediately held a news conference, saying he had heard no such thing from the central government, KEPCO, or RFS. “The feelings of the region are being completely ignored,” he said.
 
In an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun on March 6, Miyashita suggested it was unlikely KEPCO would bring its nuclear fuel into the facility as things stand. “Operations at the site haven’t started yet. Without the facility having cleared the NRA’s screening, it’s unthinkable that they could change the status quo,” he said.
 
The Shimokita Peninsula in northern Aomori Prefecture, where the city of Mutsu is located, not only houses the interim storage building, but has a collection of other nuclear facilities including the Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant in the Aomori Prefecture village of Higashidori, the Oma Nuclear Power Plant in the town of Oma and the reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel in the village of Rokkasho. But since the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, construction of nuclear facilities has been suspended or delayed.
 
“We had expected our nonresident population to increase in line with nuclear power plant construction and inspections. But taxi companies are going out of business, and the economic chill is severe,” Miyashita said.
 
Alongside concerns about the storage of nuclear fuel, there are also deeply rooted aspirations regarding the operation of nuclear power plants in the region. Katsura Sonoda, head of the Mutsu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, commented, “In local economic circles, there is little resistance to reactivating nuclear power plants, and we want the interim storage facility to go into operation quickly. Fixed property taxes and subsidies will also increase.
 
A figure in the energy industry commented, “The mayor is up for election for a second term in June. It’s not the case that he lacks understanding of nuclear power-related projects; I guess it’s just that he had to be sensitive toward antinuclear public sentiment in the wake of the nuclear disaster (in Fukushima).”
 
In late January, KEPCO announced that it would set up an office in Aomori in June to handle payment-related issues, employing about 70 people. A public relations representative for the company maintained that this had nothing to do with the interim storage facility, but this has not swept away the view that the company is entering Aomori Prefecture to warm the region to the idea of hosting the facility.
 

March 22, 2018 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Zero-nuclear policy can lead opposition to victory: Koizumi

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Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, center, appears at a Niigata gathering on Nov. 4 with Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, right, and Niigata Mayor Akira Shinoda.

NIIGATA–An anti-nuclear stance taken by opposition parties could lift them from their doldrums and defeat the ruling coalition, former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi said, pointing to the recent Niigata governor’s election.

We now know that the ruling parties will lose if the opposition parties back a unified candidate and focus on a nuclear-free energy policy in the campaign,” Koizumi said at a gathering here on Nov. 4. “The effects of this have not yet surfaced but they are huge.”

Koizumi cited the victory by Niigata Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, who was backed by the opposition Japanese Communist Party, Social Democratic Party and Liberal Party. Running on a plank urging caution about restarting the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in the prefecture, Yoneyama defeated a candidate supported by the ruling coalition of the Liberal Democratic Party and Komeito.

The former prime minister said Yoneyama’s win should be a wake-up call to both ruling and opposition parties to focus on nuclear energy in the next national election.

If the opposition parties realize the significance of this, the LDP cannot feel complacent,” Koizumi told reporters at the gathering. “If the opposition parties change, the LDP will also be forced to change.”

However, Koizumi scratched his head at the inability of the largest opposition party, the Democratic Party, to come out clearly against nuclear energy. The party’s major backer, Rengo, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, includes unions made up of employees of electric power companies.

For that reason, the Democratic Party did not formally support Yoneyama in the Niigata gubernatorial election.

There are only about half a million votes from labor unions with ties to electric power companies and that support nuclear energy,” Koizumi told reporters. “I wonder why the party does not make the effort to win 5 million or 50 million votes.”

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611050034.html

November 8, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Opposition to nuclear energy grows in Japan

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Opinion polls show the Japanese people oppose nuclear plants going back into operation. It underlines the scale of the problem facing the government in convincing everyone that it’s safe. Julian Ryall reports from Tokyo.”

Before October 16, Ryuichi Yoneyama had contested four regional elections and been soundly beaten each time. Now, however, the 49-year-old qualified doctor and lawyer is to be sworn in as governor of Niigata Prefecture after defeating a candidate who had the backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and was considered the firm favorite.

Yoneyama worked hard for his victory over Tamio Mori, a former bureaucrat with the construction ministry, but when the voters stepped into the voting booths there was a single issue that occupied their minds.

Mori and the LDP want to restart the world’s largest nuclear power station, the sprawling Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which lies on the prefecture’s coast. They insist that as Japan moves towards the sixth anniversary of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, triggering the second-worst nuclear crisis in history, new safety measures have been implemented that ensure the same thing could not happen in Niigata.

The voters did not agree, with 528,455 supporting Yoneyama’s pledge to not grant approval for Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s (TEPCO) Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant to be restarted. In comparison, 465,044 voted for Mori.

Nationwide opposition

Those figures are broadly replicated across Japan, with a poll conducted by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper on October 15 and 16 determining that 57 percent of the public is against the nation’s nuclear power plants being restarted, and just 29 percent supporting the resumption of reactors that have nearly all been mothballed since 2011.

At present, only two of the nation’s 54 reactors have been restarted – and that after much wrangling through the courts after local residents and environmental groups expressed their opposition.

Nevertheless, a report issued by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ) in July predicts that seven additional reactors will be on-line by the end of March next year and a further 12 will be operational one year later.

But as the opinion polls show, the majority of the public is against a policy that the government tells them is in the nation’s best interests.

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“Since the accident at Fukushima, many people have realized the negatives that go along with the positives of nuclear power, and they simply do not want to take that sort of risk again,” said Hiroko Moriwaki, a librarian who lives in Tokyo.

“And many think that we do not need to,” she added. “Since the disaster, the reactors have not been operational and look around you; we have all the electricity that we need, there are no blackouts and everything is normal.

“Just after the earthquake, we were told to do everything we could to save energy, but not any more,” Moriwaki told DW.

“So maybe we have reached the point where we don’t actually need nuclear energy and that this is in fact an opportunity that the country can take advantage of,” she said.

Japan is an advanced and industrialized nation with vast amounts of skills and technologies that could be put to use to develop and then commercialize new sources of safe, environment-friendly energy, she said.

As well as solar and wind power, which are already visible across Japan, there are moves afoot to harness Japan’s tidal and wave energy, while vast amounts of potential geothermal energy remain virtually untapped.

“We have so much technology, so wouldn’t it be best to divert some of that away from more investment in nuclear energy and put it into fuel sources that are safer and do not harm the environment at all?” Moriwaki asked.

Japan’s energy needs

Critics of this approach – of which the government is one – say Japanese industry needs a secure supply of energy right now and that Japan is presently importing 84 percent of its energy needs, primarily in the form of coal, gas and oil. And that is both expensive and to blame for the nation’s emissions of carbon dioxide and other harmful greenhouse gases climbing.

Still, the Japanese public is far from convinced that nuclear energy is the answer.

“It’s complicated and we keep hearing from the government how important it is to have the nuclear plants operating again, but after Fukushima, I think, a lot of people no longer trust the operators or the government,” said Kanako Hosomura, a housewife whose family home is north of Tokyo and only about 250 km from the Fukushima plant.

Inquiries after the disaster revealed that TEPCO ignored experts’ warnings about the potential size and power of tsunami and had failed to take precautions such as ensuring a backup power supply in the event the generators used to cool the reactors were out of operation.

The government also came under fire after the media reported that it did not have a full understanding of the severity of the crisis, while it was also issuing statements that the situation was completely under control at the same time as drawing up plans to evacuate tens of millions of people from a huge swathe of eastern Japan.

“When it comes down to it, I have a young son and a family and their safety is my number one priority,” said Hosomura. “Maybe Japan was lucky the Fukushima disaster was not worse than it was. Maybe next time we will not be so lucky.”

http://dw.com/p/2RVwE?fb

October 22, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear plant scheme halted in eastern China after thousands take part in street protests

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The government in Lianyungang in Jiangsu province issues brief statement saying work on nuclear fuel reprocessing plant project suspended

The authorities in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, have ­suspended plans to build a ­nuclear fuel reprocessing plant after several days of street protests against the project.

Observers said the decision could put other nuclear projects under greater public scrutiny, and urged backers of similar schemes to improve transparency.

The Lianyungang city government announced the halt in a one-sentence statement issued early Wednesday morning.

The government has decided to suspend preliminary work on site selection for the nuclear recycling project,” the statement said.

It came after thousands of protesters launched a series of street demonstrations from Saturday, protesting about the potential ­radiation risks and the alleged lack of transparency in the decision-making process for the project.

Residents used social media platforms to question the process but the comments were soon deleted by censors. “What if there is any radiation leakage? Why does the government want to make a decision on such a big issue on its own, a decision that will affect ­future generations?” they asked.

China National Nuclear Corporation planned to use technology supplied by French firm Areva to develop the spent ­nuclear fuel reprocessing plant.

Residents of Chinese city protest for third day over possible plans to build nuclear fuel reprocessing centre

The companies previously said construction would start in 2020 and be completed by 2030, but had not settled on a site.

The process has been shrouded in secrecy, with Lianyungang residents discovering that their city could be the site for the plant after the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence announced in a press ­release that a deputy head visited the city on July 26 and claimed “much progress has been made on site selection”.

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The Lianyungang city government issued a statement on ­Sunday to try to calm the public, saying the plans were still at an early stage and no location had been confirmed.

Sporadic protests continued on Monday and Tuesday, with video footage posted online showing police mobilised to protect the city government’s office building from protesters.

Xiamen University energy policy specialist Lin Boqiang said the plan was shelved as a result of a lack of transparency and communication by the government and state-owned nuclear companies.

Residents come out in force to protest against Sino-French nuclear project

Public concerns can be contagious and spill over to other ­cities, as has been the case with various incinerator and PX [chemical] projects,” he said.

Many local governments have been forced to scrap plans for such projects after public protests over health and safety concerns.

A series of deadly blasts at industrial sites over the years has only worsened public fears and deepened distrust of government.

China’s PX industry suffered a severe setback. If the developers of nuclear projects do not learn a lesson, they could be faced with similar problems in future,” Lin said.

China is the world’s most ­active builder of nuclear power plants. It has 32 reactors in operation, 22 under construction and more planned.

The government has also spent heavily to build up its ability to produce nuclear fuel and process the waste.

http://m.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2001726/nuclear-plant-scheme-halted-eastern-china-after

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August 11, 2016 Posted by | China | , , , , | Leave a comment

Residents come out in force to protest against Sino-French nuclear project

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Rumours that Lianyungang, Jiangsu province will be site of plant sparks rally in city

Residents in Lianyungang in Jiangsu province ignored police warnings and filled a square for a demonstration over rumours the city would be the site of a Sino-French nuclear project.

The rally over a used-nuclear-fuel processing and recycling plant underscored the tension ­between public concern over ­nuclear safety and the growing pressure on China to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.

The scene appeared to turn tense on Sunday night, the second night of the protest, with pictures posted on Weibo claiming to show police in riot gear, and messages claiming police scuffled with demonstrators. The claim could not be independently verified.

The Lianyungang city government also issued a statement late on Sunday, saying the site for the project was still being deliberated. The government pledged to ­ensure transparency and consult the public, but also warned it would deal with rumour-mongers severely.

Residents started to gather in a square downtown on Saturday night, with some chanting the slogan “boycott nuclear waste”, videos and photos circulating on mainland social ­media showed.

The government only highlights the mass investment in the project and its economic benefit, but never mentions a word about safety or health concerns,” a local resident surnamed Ding told the Post by phone. “We need to voice our ­concerns, that’s why we went on our protests,” he said.

Police had issued a warning late on Friday saying that the demonstration organiser had not applied for the gathering, and calling on residents not to be misled by information circulating on the internet. Large numbers of police officers were also deployed to the demonstration venue.

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Saturday’s demonstration appeared to be peaceful, with no reported conflicts.

Meanwhile over the weekend, the country conducted its first comprehensive nuclear-emergency drill, which aimed to test and improve responses to nuclear ­incidents, according to the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, Xinhua reported.

Dubbed Storm-2016, the drill had no pre-planned scripts or ­expected results, Xinhua added.

China’s ambition to develop nuclear power was briefly hampered in 2011, after Beijing suspended approval for new nuclear power stations and started to conduct nationwide safety checks of all projects in the wake of the ­disaster in Fukushima, Japan.

The moratorium was lifted last year when at least two nuclear power plants, including one in ­Lianyungang, were given the green light for construction.

The nation’s five-year plan covering 2016 to 2020 calls for a dramatic increase in non-fossil-fuel energy sources, with six to eight new nuclear plants to be built each year.

China has 35 nuclear reactors in operation and 20 under construction, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Six provinces – including Guangdong, Shandong , ­Fujian, Zhejiang and Gansu – the only inland province – are listed as candidates for the Sino-French project, according to China Business News.

However, public anger was triggered late last month when comments on a government news website hinted that Lianyungang would be the site of the new project. According to CNNC’s website, the plant was to be the biggest ever project between China and France, and would be built by CNNC using technology from ­Areva, France’s state-owned maker of nuclear reactors.

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2000561/residents-come-out-force-protest-against-sino-french

August 11, 2016 Posted by | China | , , , | 1 Comment

Thousands in Eastern Chinese City Protest Nuclear Waste Project

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Jean-Bernard Lévy, left, chief executive of the French power company EDF, with Qian Zhimin, center, president of the China National Nuclear Corporation, and Philippe Knoche, chief executive of Areva, in Paris last year.

BEIJING — China’s efforts to expand its nuclear power sector suffered a backlash in one eastern seaboard city over the weekend, as thousands of residents took to the streets to oppose any decision to build a reprocessing plant in the area for spent nuclear fuel.

The government of Lianyungang, a city in Jiangsu Province, tried to calm residents on Sunday, a day after thousands of people defied police warnings and gathered near the city center, chanting slogans, according to Chinese news reports and photographs of the protests shared online.

They chanted “no nuclear fuel recycling project,” the state-run Global Times reported, citing footage from the scene. “It is unsafe to see another nuclear project coming and besieging us,” one resident told the paper.

Residents used WeChat, a popular Chinese messaging service, to share video footage showing downtown Lianyungang at night crowded with hundreds of people, many of them middle-aged, walking down a broad street in waves and chanting loudly, “Oppose nuclear waste, defend our home.”

The city government responded with the mix of reassurances and warnings that Chinese officials often use in the face of protests over pollution and environmental concerns. “Currently, the project is still at the stage of preliminary assessment and comparing potential sites, and nothing has been finally decided,” the city government said in a statement issued on Sunday.

But officials did not rule out that the site chosen might be somewhere near Lianyungang, and they warned against any more protests. “The relevant departments will use the law to strike hard against a tiny number of lawbreakers who concoct and spread rumors and disturb the social order,” the city government said.

On Monday, there were no signs of renewed demonstrations in the city. But the residents had made their point: Another possible building block of China’s nuclear power expansion had come under passionate public attack, defying the police warnings and government attempts to defuse alarm.

The Chinese government has said that it will accelerate building nuclear power and processing plants to wean the economy more quickly off coal. In March, the national legislature endorsed a five-year plan that promises to push forward with more nuclear power plants and a reprocessing plant for used fuel from China’s growing number of reactors. Japan also has plans to open a reprocessing plant.

But in Lianyungang and elsewhere, fears over the safety of nuclear power — magnified by the Fukushima calamity in Japan in 2011 — could frustrate those plans.

Lianyungang is just 20 miles southwest of a coastal nuclear power plant at Tianwan, which has two units operating, two under construction and approval to build two more. But the idea that used nuclear fuel might be reprocessed in the area seemed to renew anxieties about radiation risks.

A 2010 survey of 1,616 residents in the area already showed widespread apprehension about the Tianwan plant: 83.5 percent of respondents said they “worried about improper handling of nuclear waste.”

Complaints over industrial pollution, waste incinerators, toxic soil and other environmental issues have become one of the biggest causes of mass protest in China. And nuclear facilities have also become a source of worry for many.

In July 2013, officials in southern China shelved plans for a nuclear fuel fabrication plant after hundreds of nearby residents protested. Proposals for new nuclear power stations have also been met by online denunciations and petitions.

The demonstrations in Lianyungang broke out on Saturday after rumors spread that the area had been chosen as the site for a nuclear fuel processing and recycling plant to be built by the China National Nuclear Corporation, in cooperation with a French company, Areva. The companies have said construction will start in 2020 and be finished by 2030.

The companies have not reported settling on a site, nor have they revealed many other details about the proposed plant. But when China’s premier, Li Keqiang, visited France in June of last year, the companies agreed “to finalize the negotiations in the shortest possible time frame.”

Last month, a unit of the China National Nuclear Corporation said on its website that managers had visited Lianyungang to “study the proposed site.” That news appeared to sow alarm among some residents, who, in addition to the street protests, have taken to social media and online forums to voice opposition to the idea.

On Sina.com Weibo, a popular Chinese site that works like Twitter, messages have sprung up using a picture of a face in a heavy protective mask holding up a nuclear radiation sign with a red X across it. “The people of Lianyungang don’t want radiation,” the picture says.

The China National Nuclear Corporation’s nuclear fuel reprocessing unit said on its website on Saturday that the proposed plant would help the country become a “nuclear strong power.” But it emphasized that a site had not been chosen. It said places in six provinces, including Jiangsu, were under consideration.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/09/world/asia/china-nuclear-waste-protest-lianyungang.html?_r=0

August 9, 2016 Posted by | China | , , , | Leave a comment