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John Dolva

Nuclear power and Japan.

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''Japan's nuclear history in perspective: Eisenhower and atoms for war and peace

By Peter Kuznick | 13 April 2011

Article Highlights

* The United States heavily promoted nuclear energy in Japan after World War II, and, despite an initially reluctant public, the industry eventually flourished.

* President Dwight Eisenhower's promises of peaceful nuclear energy applications masked a huge increase in the US arsenal, as well as an increased reliance on nuclear weapons in war planning.

* The catastrophe at Fukushima could lead to a reassessment of nuclear energy in Japan that leads the country to reject the perceived necessity of the US nuclear umbrella.

It is tragic that Japan, the most fiercely antinuclear country on the planet, with its Peace Constitution, three non-nuclear principles, and commitment to nuclear disarmament, is being hit with the most dangerous and prolonged nuclear crisis in the past quarter-century -- one whose damage might still exceed that of Chernobyl 25 years ago. But Japan's antinuclearism has always rested upon a Faustian bargain, marked by dependence on the United States, which has been the most unabashedly pro-nuclear country on the planet for the past 66 years. It is in the strange relationship between these two oddly matched allies that the roots and meaning of the Fukushima crisis lay buried.

Japan embarked on its nuclear energy program during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, a man now best remembered, ironically, for warning about the rise of the very military-industrial complex he did so much to create. Eisenhower is also the only US president to have criticized the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Fearing the bombings would destroy the prospects for friendly post-war relations with Russia, at one point he advocated international control of atomic energy and turning the existing US stockpile over to the United Nations for destruction.

Yet by the time he took office in 1953, Eisenhower's views on nuclear weapons had changed. Not wanting to see the United States "choke itself to death piling up military expenditures" and assuming that any war with the Soviet Union would quickly turn nuclear, he shifted emphasis from costly conventional military capabilities to massive nuclear retaliation by a fortified Strategic Air Command. Whereas President Harry Truman had considered nuclear arms to be weapons of last resort, Eisenhower's "New Look" made them the foundation of US defense strategy.

Just like a bullet? On occasion, Eisenhower spoke almost cavalierly about using nuclear weapons. In 1955, he told a reporter: "Yes of course they would be used. In any combat where these things can be used on strictly military targets and for strictly military purposes, I see no reason why they shouldn't be used just exactly as you would use a bullet or anything else." When Eisenhower suggested to Winston Churchill's emissary Jock Colville that "there was no distinction between 'conventional' weapons and atomic weapons: all weapons in due course become conventional," Colville recalled, horrified, "I could hardly believe my ears."

Eisenhower began transferring control of the atomic stockpile from the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to the military. Europeans were terrified that the United States would start a nuclear war, which Eisenhower threatened to do over Korea, over the Suez Canal, and twice over the Taiwan Strait islands of Quemoy and Matsu. European allies begged Eisenhower to show restraint.

Public revulsion at the normalization of nuclear war threatened to derail the Eisenhower administration's plans. The minutes of a March 1953 meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) stated: "the President and Secretary [John Foster] Dulles were in complete agreement that somehow or other the tabu [sic] which surrounds the use of atomic weapons would have to be destroyed. While Secretary Dulles admitted that in the present state of world opinion we could not use an A-bomb, we should make every effort now to dissipate this feeling."

Atoms for Peace buried in radioactive ash. Eisenhower decided that the best way to destroy that taboo was to shift the focus from military uses of nuclear energy to socially beneficial applications. Stefan Possony, Defense Department consultant to the Psychological Strategy Board, had argued: "the atomic bomb will be accepted far more readily if at the same time atomic energy is being used for constructive ends" (p. 156). On December 8, 1953, Eisenhower delivered his "Atoms for Peace" speech at the United Nations. He promised that the United States would devote "its entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death, but consecrated to his life." He pledged to spread the benefits of peaceful atomic power at home and abroad.

But the subsequent March 1954 Bravo test almost derailed those plans. Fallout from the US hydrogen-bomb test contaminated 236 Marshall Islanders and 23 Japanese fisherman aboard the Daigo Fukuryu Maru ("Lucky Dragon no. 5"), which was 85 miles away from the detonation and outside the designated danger zone. A panic ensued when irradiated tuna was sold in Japanese cities and eaten by scores of people.

The international community was appalled by the bomb test. Belgian diplomat Paul-Henri Spaak warned, "If something is not done to revive the idea of the President's speech -- the idea that America wants to use atomic energy for peaceful purposes -- America is going to be synonymous in Europe with barbarism and horror." Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru declared that US leaders were "dangerous self-centered lunatics" who would "blow up any people or country who came in the way of their policy."

Eisenhower told the NSC in May 1954, "Everybody seems to think that we are skunks, saber-rattlers, and warmongers." Dulles complained, "Comparisons are now being made between ours and Hitler's military machine."

Criticism was fiercest in Japan. In Tokyo's Suginami ward, housewives began circulating petitions to ban hydrogen bombs. The movement caught on across the country. By the next year, an astounding 32 million people, or one-third of Japan's population, had signed petitions against hydrogen bombs.

Long-suppressed rage over the 1945 atomic bombings, squelched by US occupation authorities' total ban on discussion of the bombings, had finally erupted. The Operations Coordinating Board of the NSC recommended that the United States contain the damage by waging a "vigorous offensive on the non-war uses of atomic energy" and even offer to build Japan an experimental nuclear reactor. AEC Commissioner Thomas Murray concurred, proclaiming, "Now, while the memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki remain so vivid, construction of such a power plant in a country like Japan would be a dramatic and Christian gesture which could lift all of us far above the recollection of the carnage of those cities."

Selling the peaceful atom in Japan. The Washington Post applauded Murray's idea as a way to "divert the mind of man from his present obsession with the armaments race." "Many Americans are now aware … that the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan was not necessary. … How better to make a contribution to amends than by offering Japan the means for the peaceful utilization of atomic energy. How better, indeed, to dispel the impression in Asia that the United States regards Orientals merely as nuclear cannon fodder!"

Murray and Rep. Sidney Yates (Democrat of Illinois) suggested locating the first electricity-producing nuclear power plant in Hiroshima. In early 1955, Yates introduced legislation to build a 60,000-kilowatt generating plant there that would "make the atom an instrument for kilowatts rather than killing." By June, the United States and Japan had signed an agreement to work together on research and development of atomic energy.

But selling this idea to the Japanese people would not be so easy. When the US Embassy, US Information Service (USIS), and CIA launched their vigorous campaign to promote nuclear energy in Japan, they turned to Matsutaro Shoriki, the father of Japanese baseball, who ran the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and the Nippon Television Network. After two years' imprisonment as a Class-A war criminal, Shoriki had been released without trial; his virulent anti-communism helped redeem him in American eyes (see Tetsuo Arima, "Shoriki's Campaign to Promote Nuclear Power in Japan and CIA Psychological Warfare," unpublished paper presented at Tokyo University of Economics, November 25, 2006). Shoriki's newspaper agreed to co-sponsor the much-hyped US exhibit welcoming the atom back to Japan on November 1, 1955 with a Shinto purification ceremony in Tokyo. The US ambassador read a message from Eisenhower declaring the exhibit "a symbol of our countries' mutual determination that the great power of the atom shall henceforward be dedicated to the arts of peace."

After six weeks in Tokyo, the exhibit traveled to Hiroshima and six other cities. It highlighted the peaceful applications of nuclear energy for generating electricity, treating cancer, preserving food, controlling insects, and advancing scientific research. Military applications were scrupulously avoided. The nuclear future looked safe, abundant, exciting, and peaceful. The turnout exceeded expectations. In Kyoto, the USIS reported, 155,000 people braved snow and rain to attend (p. 176).

The steady spate of films, lectures, and articles proved enormously successful.

Officials reported, "The change in opinion on atomic energy from 1954 to 1955 was spectacular … atom hysteria was almost eliminated and by the beginning of 1956, Japanese opinion was brought to popular acceptance of the peaceful uses of atomic energy" (p. 179).

Such exultation proved premature. Antinuclear organizing by left-wing political parties and trade unions resonated with the public. An April 1956 USIS survey found that 60 percent of Japanese believed nuclear energy would prove "more of a curse than a boon to mankind" and only 25 percent thought the United States was "making sincere efforts" at nuclear disarmament. The Mainichi newspaper blasted the campaign: "First, baptism with radioactive rain, then a surge of shrewd commercialism in the guise of 'atoms for peace' from abroad." The newspaper called on the Japanese people to "calmly scrutinize what is behind the atomic energy race now being staged by the 'white hands' in Japan."

But intensified USIS activities over the coming years began to bear fruit. A classified report on the US propaganda campaign showed that in 1956, 70 percent of Japanese equated "atom" with "harmful," but by 1958, the number had dropped to 30 percent. Wanting their country to be a modern scientific-industrial power and knowing Japan lacked energy resources, the public allowed itself to be convinced that nuclear power was safe and clean. It had forgotten the lessons of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

In 1954, the Japanese government began funding a nuclear research program. In December 1955, it passed the Atomic Energy Basic Law, establishing the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC). Shoriki became minister of state for atomic energy and first chair of the JAEC. Japan purchased its first commercial reactor from Britain but quickly switched to US-designed light water reactors. By mid-1957, the government had contracted to buy 20 additional reactors.

In the United States, the AEC aggressively marketed nuclear power as a magic elixir that would power vehicles, feed the hungry, light the cities, heal the sick, and excavate the planet. Eisenhower unveiled plans for an atomic-powered merchant ship and an atomic airplane. In July 1955, the United States generated its first commercial nuclear power. In October 1956, Eisenhower informed the United Nations that the United States had agreements with 37 nations to build atomic reactors and was negotiating with 14 more.

By 1958, the United States was becoming almost giddy with the prospect of planetary excavation under the AEC's Project Plowshare, which proposed to use peaceful nuclear blasts to build harbors, free inaccessible oil deposits, create huge underground reservoirs, and construct a bigger and better Panama Canal. Some wanted to alter weather patterns by exploding a 20-megaton bomb alongside the eye of a hurricane. One Weather Bureau scientist proposed a plan to accelerate melting of the polar icecaps by detonating 10-megaton bombs. Only Eisenhower's reluctance to unilaterally break a Soviet-initiated nuclear test moratorium halted this sheer folly.

Still, Project Plowshare achieved its goals. Lewis Strauss, chairman of the AEC, admitted that Plowshare was intended to "highlight the peaceful applications of nuclear explosive devices and thereby create a climate of world opinion that is more favorable to weapons development and tests."

Atoms for Peace masks nuclear weapons buildup. Under the cover of the peaceful atom, Eisenhower pursued the most rapid and reckless nuclear escalation in history. The US arsenal went from a little more than 1,000 nuclear weapons when he took office to approximately 22,000 when he left. But even that figure is misleading. Procurements authorized by Eisenhower continued into the 1960s, making him responsible for the levels reached during the Kennedy administration -- more than 30,000 nuclear weapons. In terms of pure megatonnage, the United States amassed the equivalent of 1,360,000 Hiroshima bombs in 1961.

Few know that Eisenhower had delegated to theater commanders and other specified commanders the authority to launch a nuclear attack if they believed it mandated by circumstances and were out of communication with the president or if the president had been incapacitated. With Eisenhower's approval, some of these theater commanders had in turn delegated similar authority to lower commanders (I am grateful to Dan Ellsberg for this information). And given the fact that there were then no locks on nuclear weapons, many more people had the actual power, if not the authority, to launch a nuclear attack, including pilots, squadron leaders, base commanders, and carrier commanders.

In 1960, Eisenhower approved the first Single Integrated Operational Plan, which stipulated deploying US strategic nuclear forces in a simultaneous strike against the Sino-Soviet bloc within the first 24 hours of a war. The Joint Chiefs were subsequently asked to estimate the death toll from such an attack. The numbers were shocking: 325 million dead in the Soviet Union and China, another 100 million in Eastern Europe, 100 million from fallout in Western Europe, and up to another 100 million from fallout in countries bordering the Soviet Union -- more than 600 million in total.

The price of denial. While Americans were preparing for nuclear annihilation, the Japanese were living in their own form of denial. From its shaky beginnings in the 1950s, the Japanese nuclear power industry flourished in the 1960s and 1970s and continued to grow thereafter. Prior to the tsunami-precipitated Fukushima accident last month, Japan had 54 functioning nuclear power reactors that generated 30 percent of its electricity; some projected it would not be long before Japan reached 50 percent. But the terrible nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima has forced the Japanese to deal for a third time with the nightmarish side of the nuclear age and the fact that their nuclear program was born not only in the fantasy of clean, safe power, but also in the willful forgetting of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the buildup of the US nuclear arsenal.

A reckoning with Japan's nuclear legacy is now taking place. Hopefully, the Japanese will move forward from this tragedy to set a path toward both green energy and repudiation of deterrence under the US nuclear umbrella, much as they blazed a path with their Peace Constitution and antinuclearism following the horrors of World War II.''

http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/japans-nuclear-history-perspective-eisenhower-and-atoms-war-and-peace

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Apr. 16, 2011 8:17 AM ET

Radioactivity rises in sea off Japan nuclear plant

MARI YAMAGUCHIMARI YAMAGUCHI, Associated Press

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS STATEMENT OF NEWS VALUES AND PRINCIPLES

(ralated)

Japanese police officers carry a body during a search and recovery operation for missing victims in the area devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Friday, April 15, 2011. In the background is part of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

Japanese police officers carry a body during a search and recovery operation for missing victims in the area devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan, Friday, April 15, 2011. In the background is part of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.(AP Photo/Hiro Komae)

A Japanese worker gets on his earthmover in the area devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in the town of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, Friday, April 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

A member of Japan Self-Defense Force stands in the area devastated by March 11 earthquake and tsunami in the town of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, Saturday, April 16, 2011. (AP Photo/Sergey Ponomarev)

Protesters march in a street during an anti-nuclear power plant demonstration in Tokyo, Saturday, April 16, ,2011. More than 1,000 people took to the street for the rally. After the March 11 tsunami swamped Fukushima Dai-ichi knocked out emergency generators meant to power cooling systems. Since then, explosions, fires and other malfunctions have compounded efforts by TEPCO to repair the plant and stem radiation leaks. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

A protester performs in front of a showroom of Tokyo Electric Power Co., (TEPCO) during an anti-nuclear plant demonstration in Tokyo, Saturday, April 16, 2011. More than 1,000 people took to the street for the rally. After the March 11 tsunami swamped Fukushima Dai-ichi knocked out emergency generators meant to power cooling systems. Since then, explosions, fires and other malfunctions have compounded efforts by TEPCO to repair the plant and stem radiation leaks. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

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''TOKYO (AP) — Levels of radioactivity have risen sharply in seawater near a tsunami-crippled nuclear plant in northern Japan, possibly signaling new leaks at the facility, the government said Saturday.

The announcement came after a magnitude-5.9 earthquake jolted Japan on Saturday morning, hours after the country's nuclear safety agency ordered plant operators to beef up their quake preparedness systems to prevent a recurrence of the nuclear crisis.

There were no immediate reports of damage from the earthquake, and there was no risk of a tsunami similar to the one last month that crippled the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, causing Japan's worst-ever nuclear plant disaster. Japan has been hit by a string of smaller quakes since the magnitude-9.0 earthquake hit the country March 11.

Since the tsunami flooded the Fukushima plant and knocked out cooling systems, workers have been spraying massive amounts of water to cool the overheated reactors. Some of that water, contaminated with radiation, had leaked into the Pacific. Plant officials said they plugged that leak on April 5 and radiation levels in the sea dropped.

But the government said Saturday that radioactivity in the seawater has risen again in recent days. The level of radioactive iodine-131 spiked to 6,500 times the legal limit, according to samples taken Friday, up from 1,100 times the limit in samples taken the day before. Levels of cesium-134 and cesium-137 rose nearly fourfold. The increased levels are still far below those recorded earlier this month before the initial leak was plugged.

The new rise in radioactivity could have been caused by the installation Friday of steel panels intended to contain radiation which may have temporarily stirred up stagnant waste in the area, Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told reporters. However, the increase in iodine-131, which has a relatively short eight-day half life, could signal the possibility of a new leak, he said.

"We want to determine the origin and contain the leak, but I must admit that tracking it down is difficult," he said.

Authorities have insisted the radioactivity will dissipate and poses no immediate threat to sea creatures or people who might eat them. Most experts agree.

Regardless, plant workers on Saturday began dumping sandbags filled with zeolite, a mineral that absorbs radioactive cesium, into the sea to combat the radiation leaks.

Meanwhile, the newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported, without citing its sources, that a secret plan to dismantle Tokyo Electric Power Co., which runs the radiation-leaking Fukushima plant, was circulating within the government. The proposal calls for putting TEPCO, the world's largest private electricity company, under close government supervision before putting it into bankruptcy and thoroughly restructuring its assets. Most government offices were closed Saturday, and the report could not be immediately confirmed.

In the wake of the nuclear crisis, the government ordered 13 nuclear plant operators to check and improve outside power links to avoid earthquake-related outages that could cause safety systems to fail as they did at the Fukushima plant, Nishiyama told reporters late Friday. The operators, including TEPCO, are to report back by May 16.

Power outages during a strong aftershock on April 7 drove home the need to ensure that plants are able to continue to operate crucial cooling systems and other equipment despite earthquakes, tsunamis and other disasters, Nishiyama said.

Utility companies were ordered to reinforce the quake resistance of power lines connected to each reactor or to rebuild them. They also must store all electrical equipment in watertight structures. Earlier, the nuclear agency ordered plant operators to store at least two emergency backup generators per reactor and to install fire pumps and power supply vehicles as further precautions.

The massive 46-foot (14-meter) wave that swamped Fukushima Dai-ichi last month knocked out emergency generators meant to power cooling systems. Since then, explosions, fires and other malfunctions have compounded efforts by TEPCO to repair the plant and stem radiation leaks.

TEPCO said Saturday it had moved power sources for some of the reactors at the stricken plant to higher ground by Friday evening in order to avoid another disastrous failure in the event of a tsunami.

Goshi Hosono, an adviser to the prime minister and member of the nuclear crisis management task force, said the damaged reactors were much more stable than they had been earlier in the crisis and TEPCO was preparing to unveil a plan for restoring cooling capacity to the ailing reactors "soon."

"Problems are still piled up and we are far from the end of crisis," he told a TV news program, citing radioactive water as one of the biggest headaches. "I expect there will be more mountains that we have to climb over."

The crisis at the Fukushima plant has forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate the area, while radiation leaks have contaminated crops and left fishermen unable to sell their catches, adding to the suffering of communities already devastated by earthquake and tsunami damage.

___

Associated Press writers Elaine Kurtenbach and Noriko Kitano in Tokyo contributed to this report.''

http://hosted2.ap.org/APDEFAULT/3d281c11a96b4ad082fe88aa0db04305/Article_2011-04-16-AS-Japan-Earthquake/id-44aa3c9872f44fcab4c711c8df122455?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=tel4rent

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''Japan confirms two reactors have melted down''

http://newstsar.com/video/tertiary/714

...................

''Where have all the nuclear power defenders gone...?''

''Where have all the environmentalists gone...?''

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Caldicott: Japan may spell end of nuclear industry worldwide

Posted On Tuesday, 15 Mar 2011 By admin. Under Environment, International Tags: ANSTO, Chernoby cover-up, Chernobyl, City University of New York, Dr Helen Caldicott, Dr. Michiko Kaku, International Atomic Energy Agency, Japan, Japan nuclear disaster, Naoto Kan, New York Academy of Sciences, nuclear industry, nuclear melt-downs, nuclear power, UK Telegraph, Ziggy Switkowski 20retweet Share1149

People all over the world are watching updates on the Japanese nuclear emergency in growing horror and disbelief. Despite soothing words from nuclear energy industry promoters, each update today has signalled fresh disaster and even more drastic warnings. Anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott says it could spell the end of the nuclear industry worldwide. David Donovan reports.

There appears to be massive divergence of opinion between experts about just how cataclysmic the Japanese situation could be.

Yesterday, Japan's nuclear agency attempted to calm fears by ranking the incident as a Category 4 nuclear accident, below the 1979 Three Mile Island partial meltdown in the US and well below the Chernobyl meltdown and explosion 25 years ago which rated top of the scale at seven. Chernobyl was the world's worst nuclear disaster to date, scattering a radioactive cloud over millions of people in Russia and Europe, causing massive loss of life.

Last night, the former head of Australia's Nuclear Science and Technology Association (ANSTO) and major promoter of an Australian nuclear power industry, Dr Ziggy Switkowski, spoke soothing words about the situation in Japan, saying it was well in hand and was not even Japan's most urgent priority.

I think the authorities have got much more urgent things to attend to than what the current nuclear challenge presents. Because I think the difficulties with the one, two or three reactors that are at the moment taking up all of the time will be progressively confronted and overcome I would think in the days ahead.

The Japanese authorities yesterday claimed that, despite the explosions, the 6 foot steel and iron containment vessel enclosing the reactors, which are designed to limit the loss of radiation into the atmosphere, had not been breached. After the 3rd explosion reported this morning, the Japanese authorities have since been notably quiet on this point.

As a sign of the increasing urgency, news reports at 1.03pm (AEDST) reported that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan had taken over personal control of the official response to the nuclear disaster.

Then, at 1.50pm today it was reported: "It is clear that radiation has been spewing out into the atmosphere".

The UK Telegraph has raised the spectre of a potential "nuclear nightmare" and is calling this the second worst nuclear disaster in history.

"The Fukushima crisis now rates as a more serious accident than the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979, and is second only to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, according to the French nuclear safety authority. After insisting for three days that the situation was under control, Japan urgently appealed to US and UN nuclear experts for technical help on preventing white-hot fuel rods melting."

Dr. Michiko Kaku, a theoretical physicist at the City University of New York, yesterday offered a dire worst case scenario.

"The worst-case scenario is a steam/hydrogen gas explosion which blows the reactor vessels apart, sending uranium dioxide fuel rods and radioactive debris into the air. This might happen if the core is fully exposed for a few hours, which is a distinct possibility. This is what happened at Chernobyl, when such an explosion blew about 25 per cent of the core's radioactive by-products into the air."

Despite the authorities pumping sea-water in to cool the cores, it appears as if they have been exposed for some time today. Depending on the winds, experts say Tokyo could be at risk. At 3.30pm higher than normal radiation levels were being reported in Tokyo, though apparently not enough to harm human health.

Confusingly, at 4.14pm, the Financial Times reported Shan Nair, the nuclear physicist who advised the European Commission on its response to the Chernobyl disaster, as saying that "It's a bad accident but it's not a Chernobyl".

It seems we have no alternative but to painfully wait and see just how severe this disaster will turn out to be.

Dr Helen Caldicott: 'The situation is very grim and not just for the Japanese people'

One person who is in no doubt about the seriousness of the incident is prominent anti-nuclear campaigner, Dr Helen Caldicott. Independent Australia spoke exclusively to Dr Caldicott yesterday as she was in transit to Canada to speak at a hearing into a proposal to build four new power plants in Darlington, Ontario.

caldicott-01.jpg

Dr. Helen Caldicott is perhaps the world's most influential environmental activist in the past 35 years.

She called the situation in Japan was an "absolute disaster" that could be many, many times worse than Chernobyl. Dr Helen Caldicott raised the possibility of cataclysmic loss of life and suggested the emergency could be far more severe than Chernobyl.

"The situation is very grim and not just for the Japanese people," said Dr Caldicott.

"If both reactors blow then the whole of the Northern Hemisphere may be affected," she said.

"Only one reactor blew at Chernobyl and it was only 3 months old, with new cores holding relatively little radiation; these ones have been operating for 40 years and would hold about 30 times more radiation than Chernobyl's."

Dr Caldicott cited a report from the New York Academy of Sciences, which said that over 1 million people have died as a direct result of the 1986 melt-down at Chernobyl, mostly from cancer. She said authorities had attempted to "hush up" the full scale of the Chernobyl disaster. The official 2005 figure from the International Atomic Energy Agency was just 4,000 fatalities.

The NYAS is a credible 200 year-old scientific institution. Their précis of the report is as follows:

This is a collection of papers translated from the Russian with some revised and updated contributions. Written by leading authorities from Eastern Europe, the volume outlines the history of the health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. According to the authors, official discussions from the International Atomic Energy Agency and associated United Nations' agencies (e.g. the Chernobyl Forum reports) have largely downplayed or ignored many of the findings reported in the Eastern European scientific literature and consequently have erred by not including these assessments.

When asked whether the disaster in Japan could be, say, 30 times worse than Chernobyl, Dr Caldicott said it could be even more catastrophic than that.

"It could be much, much, worse than that," said Dr Caldicott.

"This could be a diabolical catastrophe—we'll just have to wait and see."

Dr Caldicott said any fall-out was unlikely to affect Australia, though the death toll in the northern hemisphere could be severe.

"Australia is probably not going to be affected by fall-out because the northern and southern air masses don't mix."

"But in the northern hemisphere, many millions could get cancer".

Dr Caldicott said that, despite the best efforts of nuclear energy campaigners, the Japanese disaster is likely to spell the end of the industry not just in Australia but worldwide.

"We've had earthquakes in Australia before—no-one will want to risk this happening in this country."

"But I think the nuclear industry is finished worldwide."

"I have said before, unfortunately, the only thing that is capable of stopping this wicked industry is a major catastrophe, and it now looks like this may be it."

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You won't hear this on any mainstream news!!! (Nuclear Fallout)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMXvpWoHzeE&feature=player_embedded

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No to nuclear power: Nobel Peace Laureates to world leaders - Media Release

--Ottawa (April 21st, 2011)

On the eve of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster - and six weeks after the devastating nuclear disaster in Japan - nine Nobel Peace Laureates are calling upon world leaders to invest in safer forms of renewable energy. The six women Peace Laureates of the Nobel Women's Initiative, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Perez Esquivel, and Jose Ramos Horta have sent an open letter to 31 heads of state whose countries are currently heavily invested in nuclear power production, or are considering investing in nuclear power.

"It is time to recognize that nuclear power is not a clean, safe or affordable source of energy," they say. "We firmly believe that if the world phases out its current use of nuclear power, future generations of people everywhere--and the Japanese people who have already suffered too much--will live in greater peace and security."

The letter goes on to highlight the serious long-term impacts of nuclear power production, including the challenges of finding safe and secure storage for nuclear waste. The Laureates point out that while countries continue to produce this expensive and dangerous energy, other cheaper and more sustainable sources are very accessible.

"There are presently over 400 nuclear power plants in the world--many, in places at high risk for natural disaster or political upheaval. These plants provide less than 7% of the world's total energy supply. As world leaders, you can work together to replace this small amount of energy from other readily available, very safe and affordable sources of energy to move us towards a carbon-free and nuclear-free future."

The open letter follows below.

For more information:

Rachel Vincent, Nobel Women's Initiative

Mobile: +1.613.276.9030

or

Kimberley MacKenzie, Nobel Women's Initiative

Telephone: +1.613.569.8400 x 114 Mobile: +1.613.276.3178

OPEN LETTER

April 26, 2011

To: World Leaders

From: Nobel Peace Laureates

Choose Renewable Energy Over Nuclear Power: Nobel Peace Laureates to World Leaders

On the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine--and more than two months after the massive earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan--we the undersigned Nobel Peace Laureates ask you to invest in a safer and more peaceful future by committing to renewable energy sources. It is time to recognize that nuclear power is not a clean, safe or affordable source of energy.

We are deeply disturbed that the lives of people in Japan are being endangered by nuclear radiation in the air, in the water and in the food as a result of the breakdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant. We firmly believe that if the world phases out its current use of nuclear power, future generations of people everywhere--and the Japanese people who have already suffered too much--will live in greater peace and security.

"Twenty-five years after Chernobyl, some people claim things are getting better. I disagree," says Mykola Isaiev, a Chernobyl liquidator (a person who helped clean up the site). "Our children are sick from eating contaminated food and our economy is destroyed." Isaiev says he can relate to the liquidators now working in Japan. Like him, they probably did not question much the safety of nuclear power.

Consider the words of a shopkeeper in Kesennuma, one of the towns that bore the full force of the tsunami along the northeast coast: "That radiation thing is extremely scary. It is beyond a tsunami. A tsunami you can see. But this you cannot see."

The sad reality is that the nuclear radiation crisis in Japan can happen again in other countries, as it already has in Chernobyl in the former Ukraine SSR (1986), Three Mile Island in the United States (1979) and Windscale/Sellafield in the United Kingdom (1957). Nuclear accidents can and do result from natural disasters--such as earthquakes and tsunamis--and also from human error and negligence. People around the globe also fear the possibility of terrorist attacks on nuclear power plants.

But radiation is not just a concern in a nuclear accident. Each link in the nuclear fuel chain releases radiation, starting with drilling for uranium; it then continues for generations because nuclear waste includes plutonium that will remain toxic for thousands of years. Despite years of research, countries with nuclear energy programs such as the United States have failed to solve the challenge of finding safe and secure storage for "spent" nuclear fuel. Meanwhile, every day more spent fuel is being generated.

Nuclear power advocates must confront the fact that nuclear power programs provide the ingredients to build nuclear weapons. Indeed, this is the underlying concern with regards to Iran's nuclear program. While the nuclear industry prefers to ignore this huge threat in pursuing nuclear energy, it does not go away simply because it is downplayed or ignored.

We must also face the harsh economic truth of nuclear energy. Nuclear power does not compete on the open market against other energy sources, because it cannot. Nuclear power is an exorbitantly expensive energy option that is generally paid for by the taxpayer. The nuclear industry has received extensive government subsidies--taxpayer money--for underwriting of construction, liability caps and insurance for clean up and health costs. We can more responsibly invest this public money in new sources of energy.

There are presently over 400 nuclear power plants in the world--many, in places at high risk for natural disaster or political upheaval. These plants provide less than 7% of the world's total energy supply. As world leaders, you can work together to replace this small amount of energy from other readily available, very safe and affordable sources of energy to move us towards a carbon-free and nuclear-free future.

We can't stop natural disasters such as those that just occurred in Japan, but together we can make better choices about our energy sources.

We can phase out fossil fuels and nuclear power and invest in a clean energy revolution. It's already underway. Globally in the last five years there has been more new energy coming from wind and solar power than from nuclear power plants. Global revenue from solar, wind and other renewable energy sources surged 35% in 2010. Investing in these renewable energy sources will also create jobs.

Renewable energy sources are one of the powerful keys to a peaceful future. That's why so many people around the world--especially young people--are not waiting for governments to make the switch, but are already taking steps in that direction on their own.

Committing to a low-carbon, nuclear-free future will enable countries to partner with and expand the growing and increasingly influential global citizen's movement that rejects nuclear proliferation and supports renewable sources of energy. We ask you to join them and create a powerful legacy that will protect and sustain not only future generations but also our planet itself.

Sincerely,

Betty Williams, Ireland (1976)

Mairead Maguire, Ireland (1976)

Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Guatemala (1992)

Jody Williams, USA (1997)

Shirin Ebadi, Iran (2003)

Wangari Maathai, Kenya (2004)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, South Africa (1984)

Adolfo Perez Esquivel, Argentina (1980)

President Jose Ramos Horta, East Timor (1996

________________________

A personal observation :

Nuclear power stations make nuclear wepons redundant.

As the world becomes more economically fragile, leading to more regional strife, conventional wepons can devastate a nation with nuclear power stations. It is not just natural disasters that can cause nuclear reactors to fail.

I think this is worthy of consideration.

We must all back down from this madness and one day look back on it as a gross mistake in human history.

further : personally I am disgusted by the fourth international in its silence on this issue, at least here in oz. I hope the comference in Sydney takes heed and takes a vanguard positon.

If it does not it deserves to go, in the words of Trotsky, into the dustbin of history.

Edit add : Don't do a Peter Garret.

Edited by John Dolva

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#Japan: #Fukushima Nuclear Plant Update - Dr. Kaku #TEPCO "Guinea Pigs"

"My family is already leaving Tokyo because they don’t believe the statements of the Japanese utility because they have consistently low-balled the dangers, as has everyone else." - Dr. Kaku

As cloud of radioactivity continues to cover the United States, Emergency and Public Safety agencies appear to be in complete denial or Downplaying this incident because they feel impotent unable to assist in any way!

The Government of Japan of Japan has been proven completly inept and desingenious in face of this disaster, and is criminal in it's behavior allowing the profit driven Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) to put the whole earth in peril as 4300 tons of the most toxic materials known to man continue to burn.

Dr. Michio Kaku concurs calling the Human Race TEPCO "Guinea Pigs"

“Radiation is continuing to leak out of the reactors, the situation is not stable at all, radiation continues to leak,”

“We are looking at a ticking timebomb. It appears stable but the slightest disturbance, a secondary earthquake, a pipe break, evacuation of the crew at Fukishima could set off a full scale melt down at three nuclear power stations, "far beyond what we saw at Chernobyl.”

says Dr. Michio Kaku, professor of theoretical physics at the City University of New York and top graduate of Harvard.

Dr. Michio Kaku, Theoretical Physicist: Fukishima Daiichi Nuclear Facility is a "Ticking Time Bomb"

CalFireNews‎

''censorship measures include erasing any information from internet sites that the authorities deem harmful to public order''

ie. (imo) any pro nuclear information that bolsters the nuclear industry should be considered as the core harm leading to public dis-ease.

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... GENERAL NEWS BLACKOUT ...

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Where is all that Fukushima radiation going, and why does it matter?

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Democracy Now!

http://www.democracynow.org/tags/japan_disaster

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http://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/japan-after-earthquake-why-we-must-shut-down-nuclear-reactors

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Support our work in Japan

Greenpeace

http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/

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Globalresearch

ukushima Reactors Catastrophe: Radiation Exposure, Lies and Cover-up

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23973

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http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/05/04/2011050401113.html

High-Level Radiation Found on Seabed Near Japan's Crippled Nuclear Plant

Japanese officials say radiation readings are 100 to 1,000 times the normal level on the Pacific seabed near the Fukushima nuclear power plant that was damaged in a natural disaster in March.

Local news media Tuesday quoted the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, as saying that high levels of radioactive materials were found in samples taken from the seabed at points 20 to 30 meters deep.

The utility company also said workers began installing air filters inside the crippled plant on Monday, to reduce contamination and enable workers to get in to repair the cooling system.

Japan's government has been struggling to contain radioactive leakage from the plant after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out the cooling systems at the plant.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company Tuesday began releasing findings on radiation leakage from the Fukushima nuclear accident. The information had been withheld for fear of causing mass panic. Some of the data was posted Tuesday on the company's websites.

The head of a task force dealing with the crisis at the Fukushima plant, Goshi Hosono, said Monday the government has made about 5,000 measurements through a computer system designed to project radiation patterns in the event of various scenarios. He said the government now believes that, even if the information is shocking, panic can be avoided with proper explanations.

Japanese police say more than 14,700 people are now confirmed dead from the disaster, and another 10,800 people remain unaccounted for. About 126,000 still are living in temporary shelters.

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Japan's nuclear energy debate: some see spur for a renewable revolution

Though Japan appears to be set on a short-term course that includes a significant role for nuclear power, the future is geared toward a revolution in renewables, say advocates.

*

A protester holds a placard during an antinuclear rally in Tokyo on March 27 weeks after Japan's worst nuclear crisis began to unfold at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the northeast. The sign reads: "Don't spread radioactive substance."

Itsuo Inouye, AP

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By Justin McCurry, Correspondent / May 3, 2011

Tokyo

The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has spawned antinuclear protests in Tokyo on a scale not seen for decades, raising hopes among activists that Japan's future is geared toward a revolution in renewable energy. Japanese media estimated that 15,000 people calling for immediate closure of all the country's nuclear plants marched through Tokyo's Koenji neighborhood on April 10, and more are expected for a similar demonstration this Saturday.

Skip to next paragraph

Related Stories

* Was Chernobyl really worse than Fukushima?

* 25 years after Chernobyl, Europe debates nuclear power's future

* Chernobyl disaster: four ways it continues to have an impact

Although Japan's nuclear crisis has forced several countries to rethink nuclear energy, in Japan, where the industry has long wielded influence over energy policy, the emphasis for now is on improving safety, rather than abolition.

But a growing number of Japanese are concerned about the cost of continued investment in nuclear power and are attempting to push Japan toward replacing nuclear energy with renewables.

RELATED Earthquake prone Japan sees green in new nuclear power plant

Tetsunari Iida, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, says the traditionally close ties between the nuclear industry, politicians, and safety agencies – what he calls the Japanese “nuclear village” – have hidden the true financial and other costs of atomic power plants.

“On the outside we are told it’s very safe and cheap, but inside it’s rubbish,” he says. “That’s the nature of the Japanese nuclear community.”

The case for renewable energy

Japan’s nuclear program, he said, comprises aging plants and the perennial problem of how to safely dispose of spent fuel. Fukushima Daiichi has been in operation for 41 years, for instance, compared with an international average of 21 years.

Renewables, by their nature, don't cause a waste-disposal problem. Mr. Iida and antinuclear campaigners in Japan say it's feasible that clean energy and energy saving could combine to render the large-scale supply of power to the grid unnecessary.

Last year, power generation from renewable sources, such as wind, wave, and solar, overtook that produced by nuclear power worldwide, according to the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2010-2011 issued by Worldwatch Institute – a trend that is expected to continue.

“Even if in Japan, solar and wind power are more expensive, nuclear needs higher safety standards and much higher liability coverage,” says Iida. “And we have yet to come up with an answer about where to store waste.”

Activists point to the recent success of energy-saving measures by businesses and households in Tokyo, which prompted utilities to lower the peak power-cut targets for this summer from up to 25 percent to 15 percent.

Iida's group proposes that nuclear power be eliminated by 2020, or reduced to just 10 percent of current levels by the same date. “In the long run, say by the middle of the century, all power needs could be met by a combination of renewables and energy conservation,” he says.

RELATED 10 most nuclear-dependent nations

http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2011/0503/Japan-s-nuclear-energy-debate-some-see-spur-for-a-renewable-revolution

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An apparent partial victory for sanity:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/11/world/asia/11japan.html?smid=tw-nytimes&seid=auto

"Japan Scraps Plan for New Nuclear Plants

By MARTIN FACKLER

Published: May 10, 2011

TOKYO — Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday that Japan would abandon plans to build new nuclear reactors, saying his country needed to “start from scratch” in creating a new energy policy.

Mr. Kan’s announcement came as Japan allowed residents of evacuated areas around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to briefly revisit their homes for the first time since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March caused the nuclear accident.

Tuesday’s decision will abandon a plan that the Kan government released last year to build 14 more nuclear reactors by 2030 and increase the share of nuclear power in Japan’s electricity supply to 50 percent. Japan currently has 54 reactors that before the earthquake produced 30 percent of its electricity.

The cancellation of the planned nuclear plants is the second time that Mr. Kan has suddenly announced big changes in Japanese nuclear policy without the usual endless committee meetings and media leaks that characterize the country’s consensus-driven decision making. Mr. Kan appears to be seeking a stronger leadership role after criticism of his government’s sometimes slow and indecisive handling of the Fukushima accident.

Last week, Mr. Kan asked a utility company to suspend operations at the Hamaoka nuclear plant, which sits atop an active earthquake fault line, about 120 miles southwest of Tokyo. After three days of delays, the company, Chubu Electric Power, finally agreed on Monday to shut down the plant until a new wave wall was built and other measures could be taken to strengthen it against earthquakes and tsunamis.

Mr. Kan said Japan would retain nuclear and fossil fuels as energy sources, but vowed to add two new pillars to Japan’s energy policy: renewable energy and conservation. While Japan has been a global leader in energy conservation, it lags behind the United States and Europe in adopting solar and wind power, and other new energy sources.

“We need to start from scratch,” Mr. Kan told reporters. “We need to make nuclear energy safer and do more to promote renewable energy.”

Mr. Kan had also previously called for Japan to sell its nuclear technology to emerging nations as a new source of export income. However, the Fukushima accident has prompted a global rethinking of nuclear energy and may drive customers away from Japanese suppliers to rivals in places like South Korea.

Mr. Kan also appeared to pull back from his earlier vows to remain committed to nuclear power. His apparent about-face may be driven partly by public opinion, which has soured on nuclear power since the Fukushima accident.

On Tuesday, Japan was reminded of the human costs of the disaster, when the first group of 92 people paid two-hour visits to their homes in the town of Kawauchi, within the 12-mile zone around the plant that was evacuated after the nuclear crisis.

The residents wore white anti-radiation clothing and traveled in buses under tight supervision by nuclear officials. They retrieved belongings such as photo albums and the small tablets traditionally used in Japan to honor dead relatives in household Buddhist shrines, according to local media reports.

The Kan government appeared to agonize for weeks over whether to allow even such brief trips. Officials were concerned about whether civilians could be kept safe from exposure to potentially high radiation doses around the plant.

Complicating their decision was the lack of scientific knowledge on the health effects of the radiation doses now seen in many of the evacuated areas. Some scientists say radiation levels even in many evacuated areas are too low to cause immediate illness while others worry that incidence of cancer could rise over the long term.

Last week, the government staged a trial run, in which officials played the role of returning residents, to see if the trips could be made safely, and within the time allotted. Screened for radiation on their return, those participating were found to have been exposed to a dose of up to 25 microsieverts during the two-hour visit.

That is well above the 3.8 microsieverts per hour that Japan has used in some cases as a threshold for deciding such safety issues as whether to allow children to play outside while at school."

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http://www.panorientnews.com/en/news.php?k=946

Environment

Greenpeace Welcomes Kan’s Scrapping Plans for New Nuclear Reactor Builds

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Greenpeace welcomed today Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s "ambitious" proposal to scrap the construction of 14 new nuclear reactors. A statement by Junichi Sato, Greenpeace Japan Executive Director, said that “this announcement could put Japan’s energy policy on a new path of clean, renewable technologies, what we need now is the will and commitment to see it through.”

“To ensure that the health and safety of the Japanese people is put first, and strong action on countering climate change is taken, the Japanese government must now phase out all existing nuclear plants and pursue Prime Minister Kan’s promise of a clean, renewable, and energy efficient future for Japan,” according to the statement.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a news conference on Tuesday that Japan needs to scrap its existing basic plan on energy and design a new one from scratch, in light of the worst nuclear crisis in the country.

The basic plan calls for the establishment of at least 14 nuclear power reactors to help Japan double the proportion of non-carbon-dioxide-emitting electric power sources to 70 pct by 2030.

Indicating a willingness to shift the focus away from atomic energy, Kan said emphasis should be placed on energy conservation and alternative energy sources such as wind and solar power.

Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International Executive Director, commenting on the international effect of Japan’s decision, called on governments around the world to "follow Japan’s lead, and adopt energy policies based on clean and renewable energy sources, instead of waiting for disaster to strike.”

PanOrient News

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http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20110511p2a00m0na018000c.html

Radiation in soil near troubled Japan nuclear plant exceeds Chernobyl evacuation level

20110320p2g00m0dm015000p_size5.jpg

In this Friday, March 18, 2011 satellite image released by DigitalGlobe, the Fukushima Dai-ichi is shown. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe) The levels of radiation accumulated in soil near the crippled nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan far exceeded the level of radiation the then-Soviet Union had used as a criterion for urging people to evacuate at the time of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, threatening to plague local residents for a lengthy period.

Using aircraft, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology checked the cesium-137 (half life of about 30 years) and cesium-134 (half life of about two years) accumulated in soil in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy in April.

Cesium-137 that has longer effects, ranging from 3 million to 14.7 million becquerels per square meter, was detected in Namie, Futaba, Minamisoma, Iitate and Katsurao, northwest of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, in Fukushima Prefecture. The levels far exceeded 550,000 bacquerels per square meter, the level the then-Soviet Union had used as a criterion for urging people to evacuate at the time of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Based on recommendations from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the Japanese government used 20 millisieverts per year of radiation in the atmosphere as the criterion to designate evacuation areas in the wake of the nuclear accident in Fukushima. Therefore, there are areas that have not been designated as evacuation zones although they have larger amounts of accumulated radiation.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology says, "Radioactive substances in soil do not enter human bodies immediately." On the other hand, when authorities try to decide whether to allow local residents to return to their homes or resume farming, levels of soil contamination could be one of the hot topics of debate.

20110316p2g00m0dm016000p_size5.jpg

This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility in Japan on Monday, March 14, 2011. Authorities are strugging to prevent the catastrophic release of radiation in the area devastated by a tsunami. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe) Hiromi Yamazawa, professor of environmental radiology at Nagoya University, said, "The problem with soil contamination is external exposure through gamma rays emitted from cesium adhered to soil." He said that replacing soil with non-contaminated soil is an effective way of reducing the concentration of radiation. He also said, "Replacing soil in lower layers with that from upper layers is also effective."

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(Mainichi Japan) May 11, 2011

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http://mdn.mainichi....0na018000c.html

Radiation in soil near troubled Japan nuclear plant exceeds Chernobyl evacuation level

In this Friday, March 18, 2011 satellite image released by DigitalGlobe, the Fukushima Dai-ichi is shown. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe) The levels of radiation accumulated in soil near the crippled nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan far exceeded the level of radiation the then-Soviet Union had used as a criterion for urging people to evacuate at the time of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, threatening to plague local residents for a lengthy period.

Using aircraft, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology checked the cesium-137 (half life of about 30 years) and cesium-134 (half life of about two years) accumulated in soil in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy in April.

Cesium-137 that has longer effects, ranging from 3 million to 14.7 million becquerels per square meter, was detected in Namie, Futaba, Minamisoma, Iitate and Katsurao, northwest of the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, in Fukushima Prefecture. The levels far exceeded 550,000 bacquerels per square meter, the level the then-Soviet Union had used as a criterion for urging people to evacuate at the time of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Based on recommendations from the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the Japanese government used 20 millisieverts per year of radiation in the atmosphere as the criterion to designate evacuation areas in the wake of the nuclear accident in Fukushima. Therefore, there are areas that have not been designated as evacuation zones although they have larger amounts of accumulated radiation.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology says, "Radioactive substances in soil do not enter human bodies immediately." On the other hand, when authorities try to decide whether to allow local residents to return to their homes or resume farming, levels of soil contamination could be one of the hot topics of debate.

This satellite image provided by DigitalGlobe shows the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility in Japan on Monday, March 14, 2011. Authorities are strugging to prevent the catastrophic release of radiation in the area devastated by a tsunami. (AP Photo/DigitalGlobe) Hiromi Yamazawa, professor of environmental radiology at Nagoya University, said, "The problem with soil contamination is external exposure through gamma rays emitted from cesium adhered to soil." He said that replacing soil with non-contaminated soil is an effective way of reducing the concentration of radiation. He also said, "Replacing soil in lower layers with that from upper layers is also effective."

Related articles

(Mainichi Japan) May 11, 2011

There also seems to be elements of sanity in Germany, even England, and hopefully in Italy as well.

The anti nuclear lobby appears to be gathering in strength.

http://www.guardian....many?CMP=twt_gu

Nuclear power: If Japan and Germany don't need it, why does anyone?

The world's third and fourth biggest economies have abandoned plans for new reactors, believing renewables and efficiency can fill the gap

Fukushima-nuclear-power-p-006.jpg

Protesters march during a large anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo, Japan, 7 May 2011. Photograph: Franck Robichon/EPA If the third and fourth biggest economies in the world believe they can cut their carbon emissions and keep the lights on without building nuclear power stations, then why can't the sixth? That's the question I am asking after Japan (3rd) yesterday followed Germany (4th) in

abandoning their plans for a new generation of nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the catastrophe at Fukushima. In contrast, the UK (6th) remains committed to building a new fleet of reactors.

The question may soon become even more stark if a referendum in Italy (7th) next month also cancels their future nuclear programme.

These are not small statements by Japan and Germany. About 30% of Japan's electricity comes from nuclear and a rise to 50% was projected by 2030. In Germany, up to 25% of electricity came from nuclear. Currently, the UK gets just 16% or so from nuclear and government plans only to replace - not expand - existing capacity.

Adding fuel to the fiery debate is Monday's report stating that 80% of the world's energy (not just electricity) can be provided from renewable from sources by 2050. The report, from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, was signed off by all the world's governments. It's worth noting the pie chart in the report showing that in 2008 just 2% of global energy came from nuclear power, with renewables (largely biomass) accounting for 12%. And don't forget improving energy efficiency, mentioned specifically by the already efficient Japanese as a way to compensate for lost nuclear power.

A different conclusion came, also on Monday, from the UK government's advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, who said that nuclear power could provide 40% of the UK's electricity by 2030. In particular, it says: "Nuclear generation appears likely to be the most cost-effective form of low-carbon power generation in the 2020s (i.e. before costs of other technologies have fallen), justifying significant investment if safety concerns can be addressed."

As regular readers will know, I have travelled in the opposite direction to my colleague George Monbiot, in moving from supporting nuclear power to opposing it, based on five key questions I drew up.

I believe there is a low-carbon, affordable and secure energy future without new nuclear power. But don't just listen to me, listen to prime minister Naoto Kan and chancellor Angela Merkel, the current stewards of two of the most successful economies on Earth.

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World Socialist Web Site

wsws.org

Published by the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI)

Meltdown of Japanese nuclear reactor confirmed

By Peter Symonds

13 May 2011

Despite the lack of coverage in the international media, the situation at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan remains, in the words of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s weekly bulletin, “very serious”.

The continuing crisis was underscored yesterday when the plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), reported that the reactor 1 had been far more seriously damaged than believed and its fuel rods had undergone a meltdown.

Workers entered the reactor building last week, for the first time in two months, in order to restore ventilation and reduce the ongoing high levels of radiation inside the structure. Having achieved those initial steps, engineers repaired an important gauge used to measure water levels inside the reactor’s pressure vessel.

Previous readings had shown the water level at 1.6 metres below the top of the fuel rods in the reactor core. As it turned out, these measurements were false. The actual water level was five metres below the top of the fuel rods, leaving them fully exposed.

At the same time, temperature readings inside the pressure vessel have stabilised at between 100 and 120 degrees centigrade. If the fuel rods were still largely in place, the temperature would be far higher. As a result, TEPCO engineers now believe that at the height of the crisis, when the reactor’s cooling systems failed, molten fuel fell to the bottom of the pressure vessel.

TEPCO has been pumping water into the pressure vessels of reactors 1, 2 and 3 for weeks in a bid to lower temperatures. The low level of water in reactor 1 indicates that the molten fuel might have created a hole in the bottom of the steel pressure vessel.

TEPCO general manager Junichi Matsumoto told a press conference yesterday: “There must be a large leak... The fuel pellets likely melted and fell, and in the process may have damaged... the pressure vessel itself and created a hole.”

TEPCO and the Japanese government attempted to put the best possible face on the news, pointing out that the new readings did not change the apparently stable state of reactor 1. However, the discovery that the pressure vessel is leaking certainly complicates efforts to permanently stabilise the reactor and prevent the further spread of radiation.

TEPCO spokesman Matsumoto acknowledged: “We will have to revise our plans”. Under pressure from the government, TEPCO had announced plans last month to bring the three damaged reactors to cold shutdown in six to nine months. Almost certainly there will now be further lengthy delays.

The situation could be far worse if some of the molten fuel has fallen through the pressure vessel into the base of the reactor’s primary containment vessel—a thick concrete structure that surrounds the steel pressure vessel.

US nuclear expert Gene Corley told Reuters: “If it is assumed the fuel did melt through the reactor, then the most likely solution is to encapsulate the entire unit. This may include constructing a concrete wall around the unit and building a protective cover over it. Because of the high radiation that would be present if this has happened, the construction will take many months and may stretch into years.”

In comments to Bloomberg.com, American physicist Paul Padley said: “What this means is this is probably going to be a much more difficult cleanup than they originally planned for.” He was scathing in his assessment of TEPCO and the Japanese government, saying they “have consistently appeared to be underestimating the severity of the situation”.

The discovery of the faulty water gauge highlights the fact that engineers working to stabilise the reactors at the Fukushima plant still do not know the full scale of the disaster. The extent of the damage to the core of reactor 1, where the melted fuel is located, and the state of the pressure vessel and primary containment vessel are all the subject of educated guesswork based on limited, and possibly misleading data.

Late last month, TEPCO revised its estimates of the damage to the reactor cores as follows: for reactor 1, it was lowered from 70 to 55 percent; for reactor 2, it was raised from 30 to 35 percent; and for reactor 3, from 25 to 30 percent. In light of the latest information, the figure for unit 1 will have to be lifted sharply, and the estimates for the other two reactors are just as dubious.

Workers have yet to enter reactors 2 and 3, where extensive damage has also taken place. Last month TEPCO was compelled to take emergency measures to prevent highly radioactive water in a maintenance trench associated with reactor 2 from spilling into the sea. The source is still not known.

On Wednesday, TEPCO announced that it had sealed a new leak, near a seawater intake, of highly contaminated water found in a pit associated with reactor 3. It was not clear where the water had come from or if it had been leaking into the sea.

For thousands of residents near the Fukushima plant who have been forced to evacuate, the latest news will only further delay the cold shutdown of the plant, the clean-up of the surrounding areas and any return to their homes and businesses. Outside the 20-kilometre exclusion zone, a deadline will shortly expire for thousands more residents to leave five towns where dangerous levels of radioactivity have been detected.

The media downplaying of the continuing Fukushima disaster serves definite interests. In response to the latest news, TEPCO shares plunged another 8.8 percent yesterday, making the total loss 77 percent since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. On Tuesday, the giant energy corporation appealed to the government for financial aid so that it could pay compensation, sustain electricity production and stabilise the Fukushima plant.

Even before the quake, Prime Minister Naoto Kan and his government were in political crisis, with opinion polling at rock bottom. Facing widespread popular distrust and hostility, Kan has been compelled to announce that the government will set up an inquiry into the nuclear catastrophe and re-examine plans to increase the country’s dependence on nuclear power for electricity production.

Nevertheless, Kan has left TEPCO, which is notorious for safety breaches and cover-up, in charge of operations at the crippled Fukushima plant. In what amounts to a symbiotic relationship, the company and the government both want to downplay the nuclear catastrophe and to get it out of the media as quickly as possible.

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"Japan's nuclear love affair turns sour

Prime Minister Naoto Kan is steering the country away from nuclear power, but how far is he prepared to go?

Justin McCurry May 14, 2011 08:21

2011 05 13

A teddy bear and a doll found in the debris sit at the side of a road in the tsunami-devastated city of Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture on May 7, 2011. (Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images)

TOKYO, Japan — Given recent events in Fukushima, it should come as no surprise that Japan's love affair with nuclear power has turned sour.

Yet even as work continued to stabilize the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant weeks after the country's northeast coast was hit by a tsunami, the official emphasis was on safety improvements, not abandonment.

That was until Japan's beleaguered prime minister, Naoto Kan, announced two major policy shifts that, while not spelling the end of nuclear power, will dramatically reduce its role in providing energy to the world's third-biggest economy.

Japan's 54 reactors provide 30 percent of its electricity, and there were plans to increase that number to 50 percent by 2030. Policymakers now accept that goal is impossible in light of the Fukushima crisis, the world's most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Instead, plans for 14 new plants, which would have taken Japan's reliance on nuclear to over 50 percent, have been effectively scrapped.

"We need to start from scratch," Kan said. "We need to make nuclear energy safer and do more to promote renewable energy."

“Renewables are becoming the reality. Even if solar and wind are more expensive, nuclear needs higher safety standards and liability coverage.”

~Tetsunari Iida, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy

But Kan's nuclear disaffection only goes so far. He has made it clear that nuclear should be a part of Japan's energy mix, accompanied by safety improvements and more investment in renewable and natural energy.

At Fukushima Dai-ichi, there are causes for optimism and concern. Workers this week re-entered the plant's No. 1 reactor after radiation levels dropped, but adjustments to water gauges revealed worrying news about the state of the unit's fuel rods.

The plant's operator, TEPCO, said the rods had sustained more damage than previously thought, adding to concerns that the nuclear crisis could drag on for more than the six to nine months the firm said it needed to bring it under control.

The utility said that melted nuclear fuel had created holes at the bottom of the No. 1 reactor's pressure vessel, after confirming that water levels inside the troubled reactor were not high enough to cover the fuel rods.

But it added that the fuel, which is thought to have been fully exposed after the March 11 disaster, was being kept cool by water being injected into the water pressure vessel from outside.

As workers continue to surmise the damage done to fuel assemblies in three of Fukushima Dai-ichi's six reactors, Japan has been set on a new energy course that, for the first time in its postwar history, sees a reduced role for nuclear power.

That policy shift came after the government ordered the temporary closure of the Hamaoka nuclear plant, considered the country's most vulnerable nuclear facility because it sits directly above an active seismic fault line in a region where seismologists say there is an 87 percent chance of a powerful earthquake striking in the next 30 years.

The facility will remain shut while a 50-foot wall is built to protect it from a massive tsunami of the kind that knocked out vital cooling systems in Fukushima Dai-ichi's reactors — a job that could take up to three years.

Some experts believe the crisis has exposed the administrative malaise at the heart of Japan's nuclear industry, quite apart from its obvious threats to the health of those living near atomic complexes.

Tetsunari Iida, executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy, says the traditionally close ties between the nuclear industry, politicians and safety agencies — what he calls Japan's "nuclear village" — have hidden the true costs of atomic power plants.

"On the outside we are told it's very safe and cheap, but inside it's rubbish," he said. "That's the nature of the Japanese nuclear community."

The reality of Japan's nuclear program, according to Iida, comprises aging plants and the perennial problem of how to safely dispose of spent fuel.

"Renewables are becoming the reality," he said. "Even if in Japan solar and wind power are more expensive, nuclear needs higher safety standards and much higher liability coverage. And we have yet to come up with an answer to the question of where to store waste."

But Keiji Miyazaki, professor emeritus at Osaka University and a specialist in the study of severe accidents, said renewables did not represent an energy panacea.

"Nuclear power is indispensable for Japanese industry and for solving the energy growth and environmental protection," he said.

The Japanese public is divided. According to a recent poll, 40 percent of respondents said that the nation's dependence on nuclear power was unavoidable, while 41 percent supported a cut in the number of plants. Only 13 percent said the industry should be shut down altogether.

The Asahi Shimbun captured the public mood when it said: "The nuclear disaster triggered [by the earthquake] has completely destroyed public confidence in both the safety and cost effectiveness of nuclear power generation."

The newspaper welcomed attempts "to curb the predicted growth in electricity consumption that was used by the government as the main reason for promoting nuclear power generation. Saving electricity is an effective way to reduce Japan's dependence on nuclear power."

Even if TEPCO achieves cold shutdown by early next year, it could be years before the 41-year-old Fukushima Dai-ichi plant is decommissioned. Before then, the firm must also decide how to safely dispose of tons of contaminated water used to cool overheating reactors.

While deaths from radiation exposure have so far been avoided, the human cost of the crisis is weighing heavy on TEPCO and the government. About 80,000 people living within a 12-mile radius have been forced to evacuate their homes and have yet to be given an indication of when they can return permanently.

Farmers and fishermen who have seen their businesses ruined say TEPCO and the government are not doing enough to help them.

For its role at the center of the crisis, TEPCO has encountered widespread opprobrium and now faces a compensation bill that could run into tens of billions of dollars.

On Friday, the government approved a compensation plan that involves the issuance of special-purpose bonds by the state, annual premiums from TEPCO and contributions by other electric utilities that operate nuclear plants.

Controversially, the government's top spokesman, Yukio Edano, called on TEPCO's lenders to waive debts to give the utility a fighting chance of meeting its compensation targets.

In return the utility, which has seen its market value plummet 77 percent since the disaster, has accepted there will be no upper limit on damages. It must also cut costs and open its management up to greater scrutiny.

The compensation plan may have secured TEPCO's survival as a listed company, the future of Japan's energy policy rests on a continuation of the power frugality of recent weeks as well as more diverse energy sources.

The key, say observers, lies in promoting clever energy use, not just in diversifying energy sources. They point to the recent success of energy-saving measures by businesses and households in Tokyo — moves as simple as switching off escalators and revolving doors — which have enabled utilities to lower the peak-time cut in power usage this summer from up to 25 percent to 15 percent below normal demand.

The months ahead, when most of the country is blanketed in stultifying humidity and air conditioners are left on to work their magic, should prove whether or not Japan is up to the job."

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/japan/110513/japan-tsunami-earthquake-fukushima-nuclear-power?page=full

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