Hokkaido Cancer Center director Nishio Masamichi, a radiation treatment specialist, has published a very hard hitting critique of the Japanese government and nuclear power industry's performance regarding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. The Asia-Pacific Journal's Japan Focus has published a review. Masamichi expresses grave concerns for the health of residents downwind and downstream of the catastrophic radioactivity releases, and offers suggestions of critical changes that need to be made to thus far incompetent and confused emergency response.
As reported by the Las Vegas Review Journal, U.S. Senator Harry Reid (Democrat-Nevada), Majority Leader, called today's decision by the Federal Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit regarding the Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste dump "an important win in the long battle to put the ill-conceived Yucca Mountain project permanently to rest." The three-judge federal appeals panel ruled against a lawsuit filed by the States of Washington and South Carolina, Aiken County (South Carolina), and three private (nuclear industry affiliated) businessmen in Washington State seeking to block the Obama administration's cancellation of the Yucca dump.
July seems to be the month for major Yucca decisions. On July 9, 2002, the U.S. Senate voted 60 to 39 to allow the U.S. Department of Energy to proceed with a construction and operations license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which George W. Bush signed into law two weeks later. Then, on July 9, 2004, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals (although comprised of a different three judge panel) ruled in favor of the State of Nevada and an environmental coalition, ordering the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency back to the drawing board on its Yucca regulations (EPA had wanted to cut off regulations at 10,000 years, long before Yucca's worst radiation releases downstream; under court order, EPA acknowledged in 2008 that high-level radioactive waste at Yucca would remain hazardous for a million years!).
Although a major battle victory, today's ruling does not end this 25+ year long war over the Yucca dump. Under law, the NRC has until later this year (with the possibility for a one year extension) to issue a final "yea or nay" on DOE's 2008 Yucca application. In March 2010, Obama Energy Secretary Steven Chu moved to withdraw the application, but in late June 2010 a panel of three administrative law judges at NRC (the Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board, or ASLB) rejected the motion. The five NRC Commissioners have yet to sustain or overrule the ASLB ruling.
Reflecting the national significance of this court ruling is the widespread media coverage: Associated Press; The Hill (times two!); Hanford News and Tri-City Herald (Washington State); Augusta Chronicle (Georgia). The coverage is likely to expand as word spreads.
Aileen Mioko Smith, director of Green Action Japan, has just announced an opportunity for individuals and organizations across the world to sign a petition demanding increased protection for the children of Fukushima against the clear and present danger from the Daiichi nuclear power plant's ongoing releases of hazardous radioactivity. To read and sign the petition, go to the Green Action Fukushima Updates website.
"Trace amounts of radioactive substances were found in urine samples of all of 10 surveyed children from Fukushima Prefecture in May, where a crippled nuclear power plant is located, a local citizens group and a French nongovernmental organization said Thursday." The Manichi Daily News
Such contamination suggests the children have been contaminated with radioactive substances internally, something Beyond Nuclear and other groups have been concerned about since releases from the accident were first reported.
An astronaut on the International Space Station, 235 miles up, has photographed the smoke blowing downwind from raging wildfires bearing down on the Los Alamos National Lab (at left). Although federal authorities assure that radioactive wastes, including plutonium, are safe and secure, scores of air monitors have been set up to check for radiation contamination in air, as ABC News reports in a report subtitled "Radioactive Plume Feared." The wildfires are burning within a couple miles of a radioactive waste storage depot containing tens of thousands of 55 gallon drums filled with plutonium-contaminated byproducts of nuclear weapons research and production. A former top security official at Los Alamos National Lab, Glen Walp, said."It's not contained within a concrete, brick-and-mortar-type building, but rather in a sort of fabric-type building that a fire could easily consume... Potential is high for a major calamity if the fire would reach these areas." Walp is the author of the 2010 book Implosion at Los Alamos: How Crime, Corruption, and Cover-ups Jeopardize America's Nuclear Weapons Secrets.