Nuclear power and Japan.
Posted 09 July 2011 - 06:10 AM
by Rady Ananda
Global Research, July 1, 2011
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Overwhelmed by the rising Missouri River, a 2000-foot stretch of a protective water balloon, surrounding the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska, collapsed at 1:25 AM on Sunday, June 26.
Two days earlier, Kansas State University reported an emergency when radiation leaked at 149 times the Derived Air Concentration (DAC) limit for Iodine during a trial run of its reactor.
Six and a half hours after the Ft Calhoun water berm collapsed, operators reported it to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, registering it as a “non-emergency.”
The NRC says there’s nothing to worry about. The flooding has “had no impact on the reactor shutdown cooling or the spent fuel pool cooling.”
Operating since 1973, Ft Calhoun filled its spent fuel cooling pool to capacity in 2006. The structure is 40 feet deep and 38 feet above ground. Ft Calhoun then built a dry cask storage facility, circled below, which the NRC says does not need the AquaDam water berm:
On June 15, we first posted news about the threat to Nebraska’s nuclear plants, amid an apparent media blackout on the story. On June 23, the AP released its report of a year-long investigation into US nuclear plants indicating that 75% of them leak radiation.
Indeed, when Kansas State U ran its research reactor for 25 minutes on June 24, air quality monitors sounded the alarm that Iodine radiation had exceeded the DAC limit by 149 times above allowable levels, prompting KSU to declare an emergency.
Though four different systems caught the excessive radiation levels, operators reported their belief that this was due to the proximity of a radioactive sample near the monitors. They did not disclose what kind of sample nor why it was near four different monitors, if that’s even possible. Plus, the sample they discuss showed Cesium, not Iodine.
On May 31, NRC Chief Gregory Jaczko defended the NRC against allegations it is too closely allied with plant operators. He cited several examples where plants were ordered to hasten work on long overdue safety measures and applauded the NRC for its “transparency and openness.”
That transparency and openness didn’t apply to the events at both Nebraska’s nuclear power plants until after our June 15 article. It took a week for the NRC to mention it.
On June 21, Jaczko reported that the NRC ordered Ft Calhoun to beef up its flood response plan last year. He is confident that “the plant is very well positioned to ride out the current extreme Missouri River flooding while keeping the public safe.”
That same statement was reissued on June 26 after the collapse of the water berm, which is clearly part of Ft Calhoun’s flood response plan, along with sandbags and a mound of earth piled around the plant.
Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen says that “sandbags and nuclear power plants should not be in the same sentence.”
Keep in mind as these events unfold that nuclear power plants provide about 40 years of electricity while producing radioactive waste that lasts thousands of years. Despite this reality, the NRC is currently developing plans for safe storage of nuclear waste up to only 300 years. (See SECY-11-0029)
Chief Jaczko joins with Senator Harry Reid and President Obama in refusing to bury the nation’s nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, which has long been deemed unsafe. Funding for the project was cut in 2010, though the issue is still mired in litigation.
Off planet is the safest repository, given the danger posed to Earth by millennia of radioactivity. Professor Benjamin Sovacool calls nuclear energy the deadliest, costliest form of energy on record, showing that, on average, there has been one nuclear accident resulting in at least $330 million in damage every year for the past 30 years.
“The meltdown of a 500-megawatt reactor located 30 miles from a city would cause the immediate death of an estimated 45,000 people, injure roughly another 70,000, and cause $17 billion in property damage.”
That’s what we have at Ft Calhoun — a 500 MW reactor 20 miles north of Omaha.
Check back with us for updates.
Rady Ananda is a frequent contributor to Global Research. http://www.globalres...xt=va&aid=25466 Global Research Articles by Rady Ananda
Scandal hits Japan atomic industry
A Japanese nuclear power plant has come under fire for trying to sway the outcome of a public forum on atomic safety, dealing a fresh blow to the industry’s credibility four months after the world’s biggest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
An employee with Kyushu Electric Power Co instructed workers at the utility and its affiliates to pose as ordinary citizens and send e-mails backing the restart of nuclear reactors in southern Japan to a televised public hearing.
A massive earthquake and tsunami crippled the coastal Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in northeast Japan on March 13, sparking a fuel-rod meltdown and the biggest nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986.
The plant is still leaking radiation in a protracted disaster, which prompted the government to go back to “scratch” on its nuclear energy policy. Only 19 of Japan’s 54 reactors are still running.
Kyushu Electric president Toshio Manabe apologized for the e-mail scandal yesterday.
“I am reflecting deeply on the actions that tried to influence a hearing that should be fair and neutral,” Jiji news agency quoted Manabe as telling a senior vice minister for trade and industry. “I apologize to the people.”
Analysts say the scandal reflects panic in Japan’s atomic power industry, long coddled by political, corporate and regulatory interests dubbed the “nuclear village,” but now facing growing anti-nuclear sentiment as workers battle to end the Fukushima crisis.
“There is growing suspicion that power companies are playing fast and loose with data to support their cause and will go so far as to orchestrate public support,” said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus. “The more the media pulls back the veil, the angrier the public is getting.”
The scandal has been daily fodder for mainstream media, often accused of being soft on the industry.
Public trust in utilities and their regulators has already been dented by patchy and slow disclosure about the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s (TEPCO) Fukushima plant.
“They [TEPCO] have zero credibility,” Kingston said.
Industry critics said the e-mail scandal was no surprise, but added it nonetheless deepened doubts about both safety and whether threatened power outages were a real risk.
“The public reaction is leaning against nuclear power and I think the utilities feel a sense of crisis,” said Harumi Kondaiji, a local lawmaker in the western city of Tsuruga, host to three reactors. “At this point, we cannot believe them.”
With just 19 reactors still running, and with many of those set to undergo regular inspections in coming months, the country could be without nuclear power by the end of April next year because others will be shut for regular inspections.
Even local authorities previously inclined to take the utilities at their word expressed anger.
“We thought we had a relationship of trust, but now there are cracks,” Hideo Kishimoto, mayor of the southern town of Genkai, which hosts the Kyushu Electric reactors in question, told a TV broadcaster.
The e-mail scandal was another twist in a confusing saga over whether utilities can win local communities’ agreement to resume operations at reactors shut down for regular inspections.
The central government announced abruptly this week that it planned stress tests to check the safety of all of Japan’s 54 reactors, despite earlier safety assurances and requests to restart reactors after regular inspections were finished.
Posted 12 July 2011 - 05:07 PM
Information contained on this page is provided by companies via press release distributed through PR Newswire, an independent third-party content provider. PR Newswire, WorldNow and this Station make no warranties or representations in connection therewith.
SOURCE Qiagen N V
GERMANTOWN, Maryland and FUKUSHIMA PREFECTURE, Japan, July 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
International project led by University of South Carolina aims to provide long-term data from Japan with aim to improve hazard assessment of nuclear accidents
QIAGEN collaboration offers technologies and aid to develop new methods to rapidly assess radiation impact on DNA and other molecules
First study results from Japan expected before the end of 2011, building on previous research work on the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster
A new international scientific expedition led by the University of South Carolina and supported by the biotechnology company QIAGEN is seeking to measure the genetic impact of radioactivity on animals and plants in areas surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan. The initiation of field work today in Japan marks the beginning of a long-term research project designed to better understand the actual impact of radiation on molecular building blocks of life such as DNA and the consequences for ecosystems. The work will build on research results gained following the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster with an aim to provide more comprehensive data for hazard assessment of nuclear accidents.
The expedition team consists of biologists from the University of South Carolina in the U.S., the University of Paris-Sud in France, and the University of Tokyo, Fukushima University, and Nagasaki University in Japan. The University of South Carolina and University of Paris-Sud also have been leading an international research initiative started in 2000 to assess the long-term ecological and health consequences of radioactive contaminants from Chernobyl.
QIAGEN is providing the scientists with unique molecular technologies, including solutions for stabilization and protection of sensitive genetic material to prevent further damage that might affect the reliability of research results. QIAGEN also is assisting in developing and optimizing methods to assess the impact of radiation on DNA, RNA and other molecules of interest in animal and plant life. Initial results of the expedition are expected to be available before the end of 2011.
"The Fukushima disaster has stimulated intense public debate about the risks associated with nuclear energy. But very little is known about the actual long-term effects of such incidents on our environment and health," said Professor Tim Mousseau of the University of South Carolina, who is heading the research expedition. "Our work in Japan is a unique opportunity to learn more about the radiation-induced changes to individual organisms, species and the entire ecosystem and to monitor the development from the first generation onwards. We are glad to team up with QIAGEN, whose unique technologies are instrumental for this work."
"We believe this research project is of utmost importance and will help place the international debate regarding long-term effects of nuclear incidents such as Fukushima on a reliable footing," said Dr. Joachim Schorr, Senior Vice President Research and Development at QIAGEN. "We are proud to support the work of these eminent scientists, which showcases the importance of molecular technologies in environmental studies and will also aid the development of reliable methods for the rapid assessment of radiation-induced changes to the DNA."
The researchers plan to collect and analyze a variety of samples of insects, plants, and birds, focusing on geographically widespread species to allow for comparability of the research results with data generated during similar research expeditions to Chernobyl.
Unlike in the Ukraine, where contaminated areas remained inaccessible for extended periods, researchers in Japan expect for the very first time to examine both the parent generation directly affected by the nuclear catastrophe, as well as their first offspring after the incident. This will allow for a comprehensive study of cumulative effects of nuclear pollution and its consequences for individual animals, species and the ecosystem from the first generation onwards.
To this end, the research team will collect samples of blood and other tissues that will be analyzed on a genetic level to determine the intensity of damage to the DNA and RNA and whether these effects could multiply through future generations.
Researchers are planning to return to Fukushima on a regular basis, continuously expanding their scope of work to other species, and also to carry out studies in other regions where radiation levels are naturally higher, such as in India.
More information about the research project is available online at http://ots.de/aWodg . Pictures from Fukushima and Chernobyl are available upon request from QIAGEN's press office.
QIAGEN N.V., a Netherlands holding company, is the leading global provider of sample and assay technologies. Sample technologies are used to isolate and process DNA, RNA and proteins from biological samples such as blood or tissue. Assay technologies are used to make such isolated bio-molecules visible. QIAGEN has developed and markets more than 500 sample and assay products as well as automated solutions for such consumables. The company provides its products to molecular diagnostics laboratories, academic researchers, pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, and applied testing customers for purposes such as forensics, animal or food testing and pharmaceutical process control. QIAGEN's assay technologies include one of the broadest panels of molecular diagnostic tests available worldwide. This panel includes the digene HPV Test, which is regarded as a "gold standard" in testing for high-risk types of human papillomavirus (HPV), the primary cause of cervical cancer, as well as a broad suite of solutions for infectious disease testing and companion diagnostics. QIAGEN employs nearly 3,600 people in over 30 locations worldwide. Further information about QIAGEN can be found at http://www.qiagen.com/.
Certain of the statements contained in this news release may be considered forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the U.S. Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended. To the extent that any of the statements contained herein relating to QIAGEN's products, markets, strategy or operating results, including without limitation its expected operating results, are forward-looking, such statements are based on current expectations and assumptions that involve a number of uncertainties and risks. Such uncertainties and risks include, but are not limited to, risks associated with management of growth and international operations (including the effects of currency fluctuations, regulatory processes and dependence on logistics), variability of operating results and allocations between business segments, the commercial development of markets for our products in applied testing, personalized healthcare, clinical research, proteomics, women's health/ HPV testing and nucleic acid-based molecular diagnostics; changing relationships with customers, suppliers and strategic partners; competition; rapid or unexpected changes in technologies; fluctuations in demand for QIAGEN's products (including fluctuations due to general economic conditions, the level and timing of customers' funding, budgets and other factors); our ability to obtain regulatory approval of our products; difficulties in successfully adapting QIAGEN's products to integrated solutions and producing such products; the ability of QIAGEN to identify and develop new products and to differentiate and protect our products from competitors' products; market acceptance of QIAGEN's new products and the integration of acquired technologies and businesses. For further information, please refer to the discussions in reports that QIAGEN has filed with, or furnished to, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Dr. Thomas Theuringer
Shutdown of cattle shipments? / Drastic measure mulled by Fukushima govt after cesium scare
The Yomiuri Shimbun
FUKUSHIMA--As excessive levels of radioactive cesium have been detected in beef cattle shipped from near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the Fukushima prefectural government is considering asking livestock farmers to voluntarily stop shipping cows, officials said Saturday.
The request would apply to cattle in areas that have been designated as "emergency evacuation preparation zones," which lie mostly between 20 and 30 kilometers from the nuclear plant.
Radioactive cesium exceeding government-set limits was detected in 11 cows shipped in May and June from a part of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, that is located within one of the emergency evacuation preparation zones. All 11 cows were shipped by the same farmer.
According to the prefectural government, a total of 2,924 beef cattle have been shipped from the designated areas since late April.
The prefectural government has already asked the Minami-Soma municipal government to voluntarily refrain from shipping beef cattle, and the prefectural government is now considering asking livestock farmers to refrain voluntarily from shipping beef cattle from anywhere in the designated zones.
The prefectural government will make its decision after holding discussions with livestock farmer associations.
According to prefectural government officials and other sources, about 5,700 beef cattle were being raised in the zones, which includes parts of Minami-Soma and Tamura, before the first accident at the nuclear power plant occurred.
Cattle shipments from the zones were temporarily suspended after the nuclear accident, but in late April the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said shipments could resume if the prefectural government took certain safety steps, such as inspecting the surface of the cattle's bodies.
Of the 11 cattle that contained excessive levels of cesium, six were shipped in May and June, meaning they likely passed the prefectural government's inspections.
The slaughterhouse in Tokyo where those six cattle were butchered also tests some meat for radioactive substances, but not all.
According to the Tokyo metropolitan government's food standards section, the six cattle were sold at a market held on the premises of the slaughterhouse.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry and the metropolitan government are investigating the subsequent distribution routes of the meat.
University of Tokyo Prof. Noboru Manabe, an expert on livestock science, said eating beef containing radioactive cesium beyond the regulated maximum would not damage a person's health.
"However, if beef like that can be distributed on the market, it can damage people's trust in the meat industry as a whole. I think it's necessary [for the government] to test all cattle suspected to have been irradiated," Manabe said.
(Jul. 10, 2011)
4 months on, housing crisis continues for thousands (Jul.12)
Removal of reactor fuel won't start until 2021 (Jul.12)
Govt plans safety checks in 2 stages / Idle reactors, then active to be tested (Jul.12)
20% 'pro-restart' mails fake / Probe shows utility encouraged employees to send comments (Jul.12)
Evacuation shelters plagued by heat, stench (Jul.12)
Difficult choices for evacuation call (Jul.12)
IN THE NEWS / High school girl gets U.S. pilot's license (Jul.12)
New revelations from Kyushu Electric (Jul.10)
Excessive cesium found in 11 cows (Jul.10)
Shutdown of cattle shipments? / Drastic measure mulled by Fukushima govt after cesium scare (Jul.10)
Posted 01 August 2011 - 01:07 PM
Solar Energy Sales Soar Among Homeowners
By Emma Birchley, East of England correspondent | Sky News – Fri, Jul 29, 2011
The number of homeowners investing in solar panels has soared since the Government introduced a cash-back scheme to pay for the electricity they generate.
Under the Feed in Tariff, introduced in April last year, 43p per unit is paid per unit of energy pumped back into the National Grid by domestic systems.
For Mike Law, from Saxmundham in Suffolk, it was a sensible investment for a lump sum he received as part of his pension.
"The main thing for me was saving the planet's resources but the Feed in Tariff was a big bonus as well. It was the incentive to go and do something rather than just thinking about it."
And with energy prices increasing in some cases by close to 20%, he is not alone.
Installations rocketed from 2,685 between April and the end of June 2010 to 14,285 in the same period this year - a rise of 432%.
Robbie Gawthrop's company East Green Energy is seeing inquiries growing weekly.
"It's a complete cross-section of people, people who are worried about increasing energy bills, and this is a way of genuinely reducing your electricity bill but also the Feed in Tariffs are guaranteed for 25 years.
"They are index-linked against inflation which means the payments will keep coming and rise with inflation."
Nearly 50,000 homes have had solar PV installed since the scheme was introduced.
Growing demand means the price is coming down. The panels are 10% cheaper than they were in January.
It can cost more than £10,000 to install the kit needed for an average home, so some serious calculations are needed to work out if the investment is worth it.
Ian Galloway spent £15,500 on his system and thinks it will pay for itself within 10 years.
"The early indications from the last quarter are that our energy bill for electricty is falling by over 50%."
From the beginning of August incentives are being introduced to encourage eligible homeowners to generate their own heat under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme.
Run by the Energy Saving Trust, it will offer grants of as much as £1,250 for systems such as solar thermal panels that create hot water.
Posted 02 August 2011 - 02:25 AM
Solar power scheme axed to kill rush
GARETH PARKER, The West Australian August 2, 2011, 2:15 am 9 Comments
A day after saying the feed-in- tariff scheme, which pays households for electricity from rooftop solar panels fed into the energy grid, was "being monitored", Energy Minister Peter Collier suspended it.
The West Australian reported yesterday that the scheme would soon hit the Government's 150MW capacity cap, imposed to prevent the cost getting out of control.
The industry believed the cap would be hit within weeks but Mr Collier, after discussing the issue with Mr Barnett yesterday, suspended it immediately.
"The decision had to be made," Mr Barnett said. "It was on the front page of The West Australian.
"Once that appeared we had to act, otherwise there would have been a run on the scheme."
The scheme has been slashed twice before and the industry and Opposition said ending it would cost hundreds of jobs. Mr Barnett conceded the Government could not say how much capacity had been approved for the scheme before yesterday, but he believed it had just about reached the cap.
Despite being forced to cancel new applications just 11 months after the scheme began, Mr Collier continued to insist it had been "phenomenally successful".
Shadow energy minister Kate Doust said the decision made no sense and the Government had no credibility on the environment.
"It's going to put further pressure on families who wanted to cut back on their power bills," she said.
Sustainable Energy Association chief Ray Wills said the scheme was axed without warning and would likely have significant short-term negative effects on the solar installation industry.
He said the Government failed to consult the industry and this made it difficult to plan.
Professor Wills said the renewable energy industry was plagued by government decisions that caused boom and bust cycles that did not let it grow sustainably.
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Posted 10 March 2012 - 05:43 AM
FIDEL WITH MEMBERS OF THE PEACE BOAT DELEGATION
"We are obliged to win the battle for survival"
Arleen Rodríguez Derivet and Rosa Míriam Elizalde
IT will be difficult to forget the image which closed the meeting. Fidel standing, with a kimono over his sports jacket, very serious and surrounded by 10 hibakusha, as survivors of the atomic bombs dropped by the United States on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are called in Japan. Each individual greeted him with courteous reverence and the only woman, Ritsoku Ishikawa, not only bowed, but kissed the Comandante’s hand
Havana’s International Convention Center has probably never had so many news cameras per square meter, but at that moment, not even the flashes were noted. It was emotion which immobilized the image for the small group of Cubans and the 770 Japanese who arrived March 1 to the Port of Havana aboard the Peace Boat, a cruise ship which tours the world every year with activists against nuclear and environmental threats.
For the second successive year they met in this building with the historic leader of the Cuban Revolution and, for the second time, it was no less shocking to hear testimonies of the pain suffered by millions of people, victims of the effects of nuclear radiation. However, this was not a courtesy visit, but the principal session of the Global Forum for a World Free of Nuclear weapons, an event agreed at the first meeting and whose organizers decided to hold it in Havana.
Speeches from participants contained a wealth of detail and included one from a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, a professor at the University of Fukushima, the city in which the earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan in 2011 provoked a nuclear accident; a contribution from the president of the Morurua and Tatou Nuclear Victims Association of Tahiti; and a Cuban doctor who spoke of the island’s experiences in the treatment of children affected by the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. "The descriptions you give would break anyone’s heart," observed Fidel, visibly moved by what was said.
THREE DAYS IN HELL
In the first row on March 1, 2012, hibakusha members of the Peace Boat. From right to left: Tadayoshi Ogawa, Mitoshi Nagashima, Ritsuko Ishikawa and Masakazu Masukawa.
The auditorium was overwhelmed. Not only by the 700-plus people present, not only because they are pacifists and the declared enemies of all weapons, but because they suffered in the flesh or in that of their forebearers the inferno of a nuclear bombing. Some of the passengers aboard the Peace Boat were one, four, 13 or 16 years of age in the 1945 attack on the Japanese cities in which they lived took place. They are now between 67 and 83 years of age and were honored with seats in the first row of the auditorium. If their histories were more or better known, maybe the world would not be the place of fear that nuclear weapons have made it.
Hiroshi Nakamura is now 80 years of age, slight in figure and with a respectful bearing like the serene nature of his land. But his testimony is as terrifying as an earthquake or tsunami. However, the comparison is not a fitting one, because his suffering is not the consequence of a natural phenomenon, but a deliberately act of barbarity.
He lived eight kilometers from the epicenter of one of the tragedies inflicted by the United States in that August of 1945. "I felt a deafening sound and saw a huge ray of light which dazzled me and then I didn’t know what to do…," he recounted and his account was like something out of a science fiction film: everything burning around a 13-year-old child who, fleeing from the fire, comes across specters of human beings with no hair, their faces blackened and their clothes in shreds. "Some of them were running completely naked, with their arms folded across their bodies in an attempt to cover their chests. It was impossible to tell if they were men or women because they were so deformed…"
Nakamura spent three days helping to move corpses. He had to take them by the ankles and at initially, he couldn’t get hold of them because they slid away from him or the flesh was hanging off. Someone yelled at him to get his hands around the bones, "but I was just a boy of 13 years and my body was paralyzed. ‘Are you not a Japanese man?’ they shouted. So I had to resign myself and put my fingers into decomposed flesh and grab strongly… I carried about 30 corpses to the trucks and we took them to a large pit outside the city and left them there… It was three days in hell."
To compound the horror, Nakamura’s tragedy, which is that of thousands of citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, did not end with World War II. Throughout his life, the inferno has remained, with constant illnesses, beginning with his total hair loss a few days after the attack, bleeding gums, abrupt weight loss, hormonal abnormalities, five operations for cancer… "The damage inflicted by radiation has made me suffer all my life…" Just today, as he was arriving in Havana, his sister, another hibakusha and a Hiroshima survivor, died in Japan.
"This could be the last time that I recount my experiences," affirmed the man who, despite his suffering, considers it an honor to have lived as long as he has and have been able to tell the world of the profound physical and psychological damage provoked by human contact with nuclear energy. And he quoted a person close to him, whose thinking he shares, "Nuclear energy and humanity should not coexist…" Then, in the name of the hibakusha, he asked Fidel to lead a movement to promote denuclearized zones throughout the world and to call on the world’s mayors to work for peace by promoting the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
"THE DISASTER THAT ROBBED US OF NATURE"
Fuminori Tamba, a professor at the University of Fukushima, presented data on the disaster at his city’s nuclear plant as a result of last year’s earthquake and tsunami, information which he stated was concealed by Japanese authorities.
"This disaster has robbed us of the region’s natural beauty and has forced tens of thousands of people to abandon their homes."
The expert described the tragedy as a huge radiation leak which has contaminated land and waters, damaging all agricultural and fishing activities. "The largest problem is that the government did not inform people in time and many people were unnecessarily exposed to radiation." The information was immediately passed on to the U.S. army but not to persons exposed. The government only admitted the fusion of the reactors two months after the accident.
The data is overwhelming and more than 100,000 children remain in temporary shelters. Those who have not been evacuated are living in contaminated areas, unable to leave classrooms due to intense heat, in alarming conditions in terms of their growth and health.
According to a University survey of 30,000 people, there are families who have moved up to 10 times within a few months, homes divided up into provisional facilities. Unemployment and underemployment is in excess of 50% of the population of working age. Close to half of evacuees aged less than 35 years have no interest in returning to their place of birth.
Tamba’s grandmother is a Hiroshima survivor. "Just now, someone asked me in the street if I was Japanese; when I said yes, he said, ‘Fukushima,’" he commented, moved by the solidarity of the Cubans, whom he asked to accompany the peace activists in the struggle for medical treatment for the survivors and a denuclearized world.
At the end of his speech he presented Fidel with a stamp depicting children’s hands holding a dove.
Dr Julio Medina, director of the Cuban medical program for child victims of the Chernobyl disaster, which has treated more than 26,000 people in the country over 21 years, also spoke of his experiences.
OUR DUTY IS TO DISSEMINATE THIS TESTIMONY
After listening to Forum participants, Fidel began by saying, "The Japanese brothers and sisters have added a new problem, which is related not only to the utilization of the atomic bomb or the Chernobyl accident, but to natural or unnatural accidents which unleash the unconxxxxxed use of nuclear energy.
"It is highly valuable to assess what took place in 1945 and what came later with the use of this energy in Chernobyl, a plant without much security, which led to a serious accident… If we were to investigate further, we could find out in more detail the consequences of tests carried out in the South Pacific, among them those which provoked radioactive rain. Now we have more news, in the wake of the Fukushima accident. For example, Germany has announced that it will close all its nuclear plants," he noted.
"Hardly anyone has reflected much on the fact that today, nuclear energy is less protected than ever. A small aircraft could provoke a disaster much greater than that of Chernobyl. And what damage could be provoked by an insane person, or a suicidal person? – and they exist. An even worse one could be created by a man with a nuclear button. In the Hiroshima and Nagasaki era nobody had that button. Only two bombs had been produced and they were deliberately dropped… nobody had a nuclear button then, nor was it needed," Fidel added.
That situation has dramatically changed and humanity is a thousand times more vulnerable. Fidel explained, "The world has 25,000 nuclear weapons and potential responses are constantly more automatic, as people do not have time to make decisions."
The leader of the Revolution recalled that Cuba knows very well what a nuclear crisis is. "It befell us to experience the one of October 1962 and we know how close the world came to disaster. Now, it will be worse: there are bombs of various megatons and much more precise. Tests have been carried out with bombs reaching dozens of times the power of those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which barely exceeded a few dozen kilotons. Nobody knows what the effects of acid rain were after those tests [in the Pacific]."
For that reason, Fidel affirmed, "Our duty – and the best way of supporting the efforts of victims of that barbaric and brutal attack on Hiroshima and Nagasaki – is to disseminate all this information." He urged Forum organizers to write a book narrating the histories and including analyses shared in the meeting. "It should be published in a clear language, in favor of peace, the elimination of these weapons, persuading the world. It is a great battle of ideas and knowledge is fundamental."
And he concluded, "The world has to defend the most important cause of all: the survival of humanity."
AN ACT OF NUCLEAR RACISM
After a profound acknowledgement of the Fidel’s leadership and the Cuban people’s resistance of the U.S. blockade for more than 50 years, Roland Oldham, president of the Victims of Nuclear Weapons Association of Tahiti, made a resounding condemnation of France for having conducted nuclear tests first in Algeria and, after that country’s independence, in so-called French Polynesia.
Over more than 30 years, from 1960 through 1996, 133 bombs were exploded in this small Pacific territory, the greatest concentration of nuclear tests in one area of the world.
The Americans, British and French have all utilized the Pacific for their nuclear tests. Some Pacific islands, such as the Mururoa Atoll, are still being used to store nuclear waste. More than 100 underground tests have been carried out there, and the atoll is at the point of breaking up and pulverizing. If it collapses this could provoke a tsunami, causing a major disaster not only for the Pacific but for the world, given the huge volume of radioactive and chemical materials that would contaminate marine life.
"What the French have done in my country is an act of aggression against the minority that we are. It is an act of racism which I call nuclear racism."
Oldham was particularly acute in his analysis of twofaced Western policy which, while allegedly one of peace, is committing major crimes one after another. "They have blood on their hands," he stated, adding, "Peace cannot be attained through the use of nuclear weapons. It cannot be attained when one country tries to attack and dominate others."
A WORLD WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS CANNOT EXIST
After listening to the words of Tahitian Roland Oldham, Fidel followed his previously outlined ideas. "What to do? How to help in this extremely grave problem that humanity is facing?" For the leader of the Revolution the fundamental issue is, "To acknowledge that a world with nuclear weapons cannot exist. Peace is not compatible with nuclear weapons, this is a fact which can be confirmed by anyone."
The great paradox of today is that human beings are more threatened than ever and, at the same time, it is a fact that never has science advanced at such a fabulous rate, Fidel noted. "Cuba is an example of how much we have benefited from it, particularly medical science, something the country has shared with dozens of countries without any publicity whatsoever and since the early years of the Revolution, when a medical team from the island treated Algerian victims of the war against the French invasion. There are facts which demonstrate our countries’ real possibilities, even though we are not rich." He added, "In battling with these problems, science is capable of saving many lives."However, Fidel’s first and major concern – an issue he returned to more than once in addressing the Forum – is what to do to ensure humanity’s survival. There were memorable reflections around this idea. To quote one, which maybe explains why the 10 hibakusha paid their emotive tribute to Fidel, "Nobody can take from us the freedom to influence others, by making the truth known, which is the only way of changing events… it is a battle which we are obliged to win and we will have to do everything possible to win the right to continue existing."
Posted 10 March 2012 - 05:45 AM
Fukushima residents plagued by health fears of nuclear threat in their midst
A year after the power plant's triple meltdown, conflicting official information leaves families confused and fearful for their future.
Fukushima's nursery schoolchildren enjoy a Red Cross-organised play facility. Photograph: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert for the Guardian The noise levels soar inside Fukushima city's youth centre gymnasium as dozens of nursery school children are let loose on bouncy castles and pits filled with plastic balls.
The handful of teachers and volunteers on duty are in forgiving mood: for the past year, the Fukushima nuclear accident has robbed these children of the simple freedom to run around.
Instead, anxious parents and teachers have confined them to their homes and classrooms, while scientists debate the possible effects of prolonged exposure to low-level radiation on their health.
"Many parents won't let their children play outside, even in places where the radiation isn't that high," said Koji Nomi of the Fukushima chapter of the Japanese Red Cross, which organised the event. "Unless they have the opportunity to run around, their physical strength is at risk of deteriorating.
"That in turn puts them at risk of succumbing to stress. Some are allowed to play outside for short periods every day, but that's not enough."
Hundreds of thousands of children in the area have been living with similar restrictions since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant's triple meltdown last March, sending radioactive particles over a wide area.
The immediate threat of a catastrophic release has passed, but residents of several towns, including those outside the 12-mile (20km) exclusion zone, say they live in fear of the invisible threat in their midst. Kumiko Abe and her family evacuated from Iitate, 39km from the power plant, weeks after the accident after a study by Tetsuji Imanaka, an associate professor of nuclear engineering at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute, found unusually high pockets of radiation in the village.
They now live in private accommodation in Fukushima city, but Abe says she continues to take precautions to protect her nine-year-old daughter, Momoe.
"We have stopped eating rice grown by my husband's parents, and I never buy locally grown vegetables," Abe, 46, said. "I started buying imported meat, and we drink only bottled water. I try not to hang out laundry on windy days ... I'd like to be able to air our futons, but I can't."
Her concerns centre on her daughter, who has a tiny lump on her thyroid gland. Doctors have assured her it is benign. "Even though they say there's nothing to worry about I'd like her to have more frequent tests," Abe said.
Her anxiety is compounded by conflicting messages from experts about the risk of exposure to low-level radiation.
Shunichi Yamaxxxxa, a professor at Fukushima Medical University who acts as an adviser on radiation risk management to the local government, angered parents when he said exposure to 100 millisieverts a year – the level recommended for nuclear plant workers in an emergency – was safe, even for children. He has since claimed that his comments were taken out of context.
A cumulative dosage of 100 millisieverts a year over a person's lifetime increases the risk of dying from cancer by 0.5%, according to the International Commission of Radiological Protection.
No study has linked cancer development to exposure at below that level, but there is agreement that the Fukushima case is unprecedented.
Much of the unease stems from the wildly varying levels of radiation recorded in the same areas: in parts of Fukushima outside the evacuation zone, readings vary from negligible to as high as 50 millisieverts a year. Normally, the Japanese are exposed to about 1 millisievert of background radiation a year.
The emergence of thyroid cancers in children living near Chernobyl is on many parents' minds, despite UN data showing that exposure to radioactive iodine, an established cause of the condition, was much lower in Fukushima.
Campaigners said this week that Japan's government had been too slow to providing health checks and information to residents.
"A year on, we are really not seeing basic health services being offered in an accessible way and we are not seeing accurate, consistent, non-contradictory information being disclosed to people on a regular basis," Jane Cohen, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, told Reuters.
"People have to at least be equipped with accurate information so that they are evaluating their situation based on real facts."
The government has tried to ease health concerns with the launch of a testing programme in Fukushima prefecture that will include 360,000 children aged up to 18. They will undergo thyroid checks every two years until they are 20, and every five years thereafter. In all, 2 million residents will be screened over the next 30 years, but so far only a fraction of those eligible have been tested.
"Our children have all been wearing glass badges [to measure radiation absorption], but only a few of them have been screened," said Mitsue Shiga, a teacher at a kindergarten in Fukushima city's Watari suburb. "We don't allow the children to play outside at all."
Medical professionals in the area say they lack the specialist equipment to quickly test and reassure residents. "We have just one whole body radiation counter, but we need three," said Tomoyoshi Oikawa, assistant director of Minamisoma municipal general hospital.
Anti-nuclear campaigners accused the authorities of putting children's health at risk by ignoring calls to help women and young people leave at-risk areas outside the evacuation zone. "We are finding that radioactive contamination is concentrating in many places, creating hot spots that pose serious threats to health and safety," said Jan van de Putte, Greenpeace's radiation expert.
"These spots are worryingly located in densely populated areas, but people do not have support or even the right to relocate, and decontamination work is patchy and inadequate at best."
According to preliminary estimates, the doses of radiation received by people living near the nuclear facility were probably too small to have much of an effect on health, even among those who were in the vicinity during the meltdowns.
But the relatively small doses measured so far could pose problems for long-term attempts to properly gauge the Fukushima effect.
"There is no opportunity for conducting epidemiological studies that have any chance of success," John Boice, the incoming president of the US national council on radiation protection and measurements, said recently. "The doses are just too low. If you were to do a proposal, it would not pass scientific review."
For a more comprehensive assessment of the accident's impact on health, Fukushima residents will have to wait for the UN scientific committee on the effects of atomic radiation to publish its findings in May 2013.
Iitate residents say the conflicting information has left them confused and fearful about the future. "Young children were living in the village for months after the meltdown," said Toru Anzai, a rice farmer who now lives in temporary housing on the outskirts of Fukushima city said: "We're being treated like lab rats. The authorities should have told us as soon as they knew the reactors had melted down and helped us leave immediately. That's why people here are so angry."
Anecdotal evidence suggests that fear of radiation, rather than contamination, is triggering stress-related problems among evacuees.
A handful of children from Iitate suffered nosebleeds, despite having no history of the condition, and blotches on their skin, according to Anzai, who says he has had stomach pains, pins and needles and hair loss since last spring.
Tadateru Konoe, president of the Japanese Red Cross, said parents from Fukushima were living in an "information vacuum".
Abe was dismissive of promises by Iitate's mayor that the village would be decontaminated and that some residents would be able to move back in the next few years: "I have a young child so I don't think I'll ever go back. There will always be some contamination left, especially in the mountains. It's no place to bring up a child."
Posted 10 March 2012 - 05:48 AM
How Fukushima is leading towards a nuclear-free Japan
Tokyo hopes to restart some reactors, but hardening public attitudes may rule out even modest return to nuclear power
guardian.co.uk, Friday 9 March 2012 15.56 GMT
A Japanese activist takes part in an anti-nuclear protest in Kobe. A recent poll shows that nearly 70% of the public want to reduce or end the use of nuclear power. Photograph: Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images The Fukushima accident will achieve in the next few months what has eluded campaigners for decades: the closure of every one of Japan's nuclear reactors.
The closures, prompted by the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant a year ago, have continued as more reactors are taken offline for inspections. All must pass recently introduced two-stage "stress tests" and win local approval before they can be restarted.
If, as expected, the last two working reactors are shut down for maintenance by the spring, Japan will be left without nuclear-generated power during the sweltering summer months, when electricity demand peaks.
The question is when, or if, the reactors will restart amid a hardening of public attitudes towards nuclear energy in the aftermath of Fukushima, and a new enthusiasm for investment in renewable energy.
Japan lost its most prominent anti-nuclear activist last summer with the resignation of Naoto Kan, the prime minister during the early days of the crisis, partly under pressure from other MPs angered by his green conversion in the wake of the Fukushima meltdown.
Kan's successor, Yoshihiko Noda, has said only that Japan needs to gradually reduce its dependence on nuclear energy and improve safety. Under pressure from industry leaders who say a power crunch could damage productivity, Noda is known to want some idle reactors to go back online as soon as their safety has been confirmed.
He has at least acknowledged that the government had been guilty of placing too much faith in the myth of safety surrounding nuclear power. "We can no longer make the excuse that what happened was unpredictable and outside our imagination," he told foreign journalists last week. "Crisis management requires us to imagine what may be outside our imagination."
Japan, the world's third-largest industrialised country, is paying a heavy economic price for the de facto phasing out of nuclear power. This is in the form of a dramatic rise in imports of oil and gas that not only threaten Japan's climate change goals but were behind 2011 trade deficit, its first in more than three decades.
If none of the closed reactors is restarted by early May, Japan's growing dependence on fossil fuels could add more than $30bn a year to its energy costs, according to the government.
Before the Fukushima accident, a third of the country's energy came from nuclear, and there were plans - abandoned after Fukushima – to boost its share to more than 50% by 2030 with the construction of new reactors.
But after the Fukushima accident passed its most critical phase, the government moved to address public criticism of the Tepco and industry regulators by announcing reforms to the utility's management structure and a new nuclear watchdog - separate from the trade industry - that will start work this spring.
"The first step towards more government involvement in the nuclear industry is turning steps required towards handling severe nuclear accidents into law and requiring utilities to adhere to them," the environment minister, Goshi Hosono, said last month.
"I don't think Japan will, or should, sacrifice the safety of nuclear power to ensure a stable source of electricity. Our stance needs to be that we will only allow the minimum number of nuclear reactors to operate under the extremely strict guidelines."
But many are sceptical of claims that the Fukushima accident was an aberration. A poll by the public broadcaster NHK showed that nearly 70% of Japanese wanted to reduce or end the use of nuclear power, although another survey by the Nikkei media group showed support for the restart of reactors to meet short-term needs at 48%.
Significantly, the Mainichi Shimbun this week became the first major newspaper to come out in favour of ditching nuclear power. "The illusion of nuclear power safety has been torn out by the root," it said. "The Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed the great waves of 11 March last year made sure of that."
Tomas Kaberger, a member of the Swedish energy agency who was appointed to lead a renewable energy foundation set up by the Softbank chief executive, Masayoshi Son, believes the Fukushima accident has ruled out even a modest a return to nuclear power.
"There is a lot of resistance in the existing power structures, but the combined desire for economic competitiveness and the public opposition to continue as before and in favour of more sustainable and efficient energy supply, I think, will win in the end," he said. "It is only a matter of time."
Japan proved it could continue to function during the energy-saving regime enforced in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima accident. If, as the environment minister Yukio Edano has suggested, it manages to last the summer without widespread disruption to the power, more people will be asking why the temporary nuclear shutdown can't be made permanent.
Posted 04 May 2012 - 04:55 PM
4 May 2012 Last updated at 00:48 GMT
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Japan facing uncertain nuclear future
The last of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors will be switched off at the weekend
With Japan's last operating nuclear reactor due to go offline for maintenance, the BBC's Roland Buerk looks at the ongoing debate in the country on its nuclear future.
The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant was built when Japan believed in a nuclear-powered future.
There are seven reactors stretched along a vast expanse of coastline feed electricity lines that run to Tokyo, far away on the other side of the country.
They can provide up to a fifth of the needs of the vast metropolis and the surrounding region.
Inside the visitor centre a certificate is on display from the Guinness Book of Records, confirming it as the biggest nuclear power station by generating capacity in the world.
But for now it is little more than a very expensive blot on the landscape.Big employer
In the main control room, under the clock, the electricity output display is showing zero.
The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station is offline - and the last of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors will be switched off at the weekend.
Before the 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami nuclear power provided 30% of Japan's electricity needs. Now imports of LNG and oil are being increased to compensate.
Trust is shattered after the accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant
The host city of Kashiwazaki now faces the same choice as other local communities in the shadows of nuclear plants - between the need for jobs and the fear of being blighted by a disaster, like those who lived around Fukushima.
The power station is a big employer - up to 10,000 people including contractors could be working on any given day.
There are limited employment opportunities in the surrounding area, which is the reason an earlier generation of city fathers wanted it here in the first place.
There is no other major industry and the main street is faded, apart from the new Tepco Plaza, named for the Tokyo Electric Power Company, the town's main benefactor.'Trust shattered'
"We have coexisted with the nuclear power plant and it was a given that it was safe," said Mayor Hiroshi Aida.
"But with the accident we found out it might not be. So we cannot take it for granted that the nuclear power plant is absolutely safe.
"We need to think of that as the citizens of this city. That's the biggest worry for us here. Our trust for the government and the people running the plant has been shattered."
Shiro Arai, deputy site manager at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, said safety issues were paramount.
"The purpose of the power plant is to generate electricity. But our company is responsible for the Fukushima power plant, where the accident happened," he said.
"Above all what is most important for nuclear power plants is safety. Safety comes first before anything, before operating a plant. We all feel the same way."
The government - mindful of the energy challenges facing the country - has been working hard to try to get trust back.
Nuclear reactors have been put through a series of stress tests, designed to check their resistance to natural disasters like earthquakes and tsunamis.
Ministers have been despatched to talk to officials from local governments about restarting operations.
But they have been unable to avoid what is happening this weekend, the last nuclear reactor, in Tomari in Hokkaido, going offline for routine maintenance before any have been restarted.
Japan will be entirely without nuclear power for the first time in more than 40 years.
Local governments do not have a veto under law but they have always been consulted in the past as a matter of courtesy.
The government wants to proceed now on the basis of consensus rather than compulsion - but the cost to Japan's economy is high.'Cheaper energy' needed
A dramatic increase in imports of gas and other fossil fuels helped push the country into its biggest ever trade deficit last year.
Seafarers say they have never seen the gas terminal on Tokyo Bay so busy.
It has enabled Japan to avoid black-outs but at a price - more expensive electricity for industry.
"The Japanese economy depends on huge and advanced manufacturing. The manufacturing sector needs cheaper energy," said Yu Nagatomi from the Institute of Energy Economics Japan.
"The industrial sector may be afraid that the situation makes it difficult to produce their materials in Japan, domestically. They may think it is a better way to keep their business to get out of Japan."
At Kashiwazaki-Kariwa they are constructing huge new sea walls - big enough, they say, to withstand any possible tsunami.
But the Japanese were told the Fukushima Daiichi power station was safe only to see to see it tipped into meltdowns.
Akihiro Harako, one of the workers at the Fukushima plant who struggled to control the crisis in the aftermath of the tsunami, said lessons had to be learned before public trust was restored.
"For 40 years, we've been running our nuclear power plant safely. We believe we've contributed to providing energy to the country.
"But there's been a regrettable accident. Operators inside Japan and outside need to learn from it to run power plants safely. As for the existence of nuclear energy in Japan, I think we need to discuss it widely in the future."
Convincing people now will not be easy.
Posted 27 November 2012 - 05:00 PM
Tokyo.- A study by the Japanese Environment Ministry showed the presence of fish with high levels of radioactive cesium in rivers and reservoirs in Fukushima, where a nuclear accident occurred, local media reported. The study reported a mountain trout with 11,400 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, over 100 times the limit established in Japan. The trout was captured in the Niida River, in the city of Minamisoma, a score of kilometers north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, on the border of the exclusion perimeter created after the accident.
The detection of contaminated rice and meat last year, after the nuclear disaster caused by a tsunami in 2011 forced the government to reduce the limit from 500 to 100 becquerels for fruit, vegetables, cereals, fish, seafood and meat.
It also reduced the limit from 200 to 50 becquerels of cesium for milk and children's fruit, and from 200 to 10 becquerels for water.
The research on fish and insects in rivers, lakes and the coast of Fukushima also found a sea bass containing 1,400 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram and a catfish with 3,000 becquerels per kilogram in the dam of Mano, in Iitate, 40 kilometers northwest of the plant, Kyodo news agency reported.
Posted 26 January 2013 - 04:33 PM
AFP January 18, 2013, 11:20 pm
AFP © Japanese fishermen unload their catch at the Hirakata fish market in Kitaibaraki, Ibaraki prefecture, close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on April 6, 2011. A fish contaminated with radiation levels more than 2,500 times the legal limit has been caught near the crippled nuclear plant, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).
TOKYO (AFP) - A fish contaminated with radiation levels more than 2,500 times the legal limit has been caught near Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, its operator said Friday.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said caesium equivalent to 254,000 becquerels per kilogramme -- or 2,540 times more than the government seafood limit -- was detected in a "murasoi" fish.
The fish, similar to rockfish, was caught at a port inside the Fukushima plant, a TEPCO spokesman said.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was battered by a towering tsunami following a huge earthquake on March 11, 2011, causing reactor meltdowns which spewed radioactive contamination into the atmosphere.
Fishing around Fukushima was halted and the government banned beef, milk, mushrooms and vegetables from being produced in surrounding areas.
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Posted 08 March 2013 - 03:49 PM
Question marks remain about the plant's safety, but the estimated $100bn, 40-year clean-up is now underway
Soon, a steel shield will be driven into the seabed to prevent contamination from the plant from leaking into the Pacific Ocean.
Fukushima Daiichi's manager, Takeshi Takahashi, conceded that decommissioning the plant could take 30 to 40 years..."It will take a long time to complete our work, especially on the three reactors that suffered meltdown,
Work to remove melted fuel won't begin until 2021,
On the ocean side of neighbouring reactor No 4, where a meltdown did not occur, Tepco recently measured radiation at 172 microsieverts/hour; but in the same area outside reactor No 3, levels soar to 1,710 microsieverts/hour. By comparison, a chest X-ray is equivalent to 50 microsieverts and a return flight between Tokyo and New York 200 microsieverts, according to the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.
The dangers associated with working in highly radioactive areas of Fukushima Daiichi prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to warn last week that one-third of the plant's workers face an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer, leukaemia and all solid cancers during their lifetimes.
irradiated water is increasing at such a pace that the utility is running out of space for the tanks it needs to store it.
victims, like the facility itself, are a long way from returning to any semblance of normality.
On the drive through the 20-kilometre evacuation zone to Fukushima Daiichi, visitors pass entire villages that remain frozen in time. Half a dozen cars sit abandoned in a supermarket car park, shops and restaurants lie deserted, and thousands of black bags filled with contaminated soil and grass cover fields once used to grow rice, while authorities decide how, and where, to dispose of them.
Takahashi apologised "to the world" for the "inconvenience"
Posted 04 August 2013 - 05:13 AM
Russia Today : http://rt.com/news/f...e-clean-up-003/
Spill-over threat: Fukushima radioactive groundwater rises above barrier level
Published time: August 03, 2013 17:05
[Covers are installed for a spent fuel removal operation at Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant's unit 4 reactor building © in the town of Okuma, Fukushima prefecture on June 12, 2013. (AFP Photo)]
Radioactive groundwater at the Japanese crippled nuclear plant has risen to levels above a barrier built to try and contain it – with risks of spilling over and reaching the ocean, Japanese media report.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), which is responsible for decommissioning the wrecked plant, estimated that contaminated groundwater could reach the surface within three weeks, the Asahi newspaper said.
One of the biggest challenges facing Tepco is to try and contain the radioactive water that cools the destroyed reactors as it mixes with 400 tonnes of fresh groundwater pouring into the plant every day.
The company has been attempting to inject a chemical into the ground to create a barrier to physically contain the groundwater, but the method is only effective 1.8 meters below the surface, whereas data from test wells shows that contaminated water has already risen to one meter below the surface.
A Tepco official said at the Friday meeting that equipment to pump out the water would only be in place at the end of August. According to local media reports, Tepco would need to pump out 100 tonnes of water daily to prevent leakage into the ocean.
But it is not clear where the contaminated water would be stored as more than 85% of Fukushima’s 380,000 tonne storage capacity is already full.
Workers have already built more than 1,000 tanks to store mixed water, which accumulates at the rate of an Olympic sized swimming pool every week.
The tanks were built in a hurry from parts of old containers brought to the site from closed down factories and then reassembled together with new parts and the steel bolts holding the tanks together will corrode in a few years.
[Reporters and Tokyo Electric Power Co workers look up the unit 4 reactor building during a media tour at TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in the town of Okuma, Fukushima prefecture in Japan on June 12, 2013. (AFP Photo)]
Tepco admits it has no idea how long the tanks will hold and estimates it will need to double capacity over the next three years if it is to contain all the water. After that it has no long term plan.
The decommissioning engineers also want to stem the flow of groundwater before it reaches the reactors by channeling it around the plant and into the sea. The plan is to capture the groundwater at the elevated end of the complex and divert it into a system of wells and pipes into the ocean.
Local fishermen are opposed to the idea and have rejected Tepco’s claims that radiation levels would be negligible.
Some of Tepco’s other efforts to stop radioactive water from leaking into the sea include sinking an 800-meter-long steel barrier along the coastline and even freezing the ground with technology used in subway-tunnel construction.
Experts from across the nuclear industry are not impressed and in January Tepco found fish contaminated with high levels of radiation inside a port at the plant.
As well as the problem of contaminated water Tepco has also not solved why the plant intermittently emits steam, if the repaired cooling system will hold and why groundwater is seeping into the basement.
Tepco admitted on Friday that an estimated 20 to 40 trillion Becquerel’s of tritium may have flowed into the Pacific Ocean since May 2011. Tritium has a half-life of twelve years. Tritium is only dangerous when it is inhaled, ingested via food or water or absorbed through the skin.
While in March a rat shorted a temporary switchboard and cut power used to cool spent uranium fuel rods for 29 hours.
Economic with the truth
Industry experts and analysts are concerned at Tepco’s inability to get to grips with the problems on the site and whether it can successfully decommission the Fukushima plant.
“They let people know about the good things and hide the bad things. This culture of cover-up hasn’t changed since the disaster,” Atusushi Kasai, a former researcher at the Japan Atomic Energy Institute, told Japan Today.
Japan’s nuclear energy watchdog expressed alarm at Tepco’s own admission last month that radioactive water was leaking into the ocean as it was in direct contradiction to what they had previously said.
“They had said it wouldn’t reach the ocean, that they didn’t have the data to show that it was going into the ocean,” said Masashi Goto, a former nuclear engineer who has worked at plants run by Tepco.
Dale Klein who chairs a third-party panel commissioned by Tepco to oversee the reform of its nuclear division believes they are incompetent rather than deliberately withholding information.
“The plant is in a difficult physical configuration. I have some sympathy. It’s not the fact that we’re having surprises – it’s the way they are handling them. That’s where my frustrations are,” he said.
Tepco’s handling of the clean-up has further complicated Japan’s attempts to restart its 50 nuclear power plants, almost all of which have been idle since the disaster, forcing the country to import expensive fossil fuels for its energy needs.
Edited by John Dolva, 04 August 2013 - 05:16 AM.
Posted 11 August 2013 - 06:48 AM
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