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Monday
Jul182011

State of Vermont wins first round in legal battle to close down Vermont Yankee

As reported by Vermont Public Radio, in an 18 page ruling U.S. District Judge J. Garvan Murtha denied Entergy Nuclear's request for an injunction against the Vermont state law which would force the closure of Vermont Yankee atomic reactor at the end of its original 40 year license next March. Entergy Nuclear needs to refuel Vermont Yankee this fall if it is to operate the reactor beyond March 22, 2012, so sought an injunction against the state's mandated closure by July 23rd, in order to decide whether or not to order the replacement fuel. The judge clarified that his rejection of Entergy's request for an injunction does not indicate how he will rule on the overall case, in which Entergy seeks to nullify the Vermont state law via federal pre-emption over nuclear safety matters. Judge Murtha has announced he will hear that case beginning on September 12th. On legal grounds, Vermont has argued its decision to shut down Vermont Yankee has to do with economics and reliability, not health and safety, which are federally pre-empted. "From Fukushima to VT Yankee: The Vermont Nuclear Power Conference" will be held in Burlington on  Saturday, July 23rd, to build further momentum to shut Vermont Yankee.

Monday
Jul182011

Fukushima worker part of Japan's World Cup champions team

Japan's unlikely and heroic victory over a bigger and more powerful US team in the women's World Cup Final on Sunday buoyed spirits in a country devastated by the nuclear disaster, tsunami and earthquake. The albeit likely temporary respite was in part provided by a former Fukushima nuclear plant worker, Karina Maruyama, who propelled the team into the semifinals with the winning goal against Germany. In the final, Japan came back twice to tie the game in regular time and over-time, then won in a dramatic shootout. Prior to the Germany match, Japan's Coach Norio Sasaki showed the team video footage of the devastated Fukushima-Daiichi reactors, spurring their motivation. Said one fan who cheered for Japan: "After 9/11 we were all a little American, since Fukushima we are all a little Japanese." (Photo from the Bangkok Post).

Thursday
Jul142011

Japan PM accepts nuclear phase-out

Reports the Washington Post: Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a television address to the country Wednesday that Japan should decrease and eventually eliminate its reliance on nuclear energy. “We will aim to bring about a society that can exist without nuclear power,” he said. “Through my experience of the March 11 accident, I came to realize the risk of nuclear energy is too high,” Kan said. “It involves technology that cannot be controlled according to our conventional concept of safety.” At present, 35 of the country’s 54 reactors are offline, either damaged, halted by the earthquake and resulting tsunami, or down for routine repairs. As reactors come off line for maintenance  - and if they do not subsequently restart, Japan could be without nuclear energy entirely by April 2012.

Monday
Jul112011

More earthquakes in Japan prompt urgency for nuclear phase out

The 7-magnitude earthquake that just jolted northeastern Japan on July 10, 2011 forced another temporary evacuation of workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident site.  This latest earth shift underscored the urgency that is moving Japanese away from getting 30% of their electricity from increasingly dangerous nuclear power to safe energy like solar power and efficiency. Japanese officials announced that decommissioning the Fukushima catastrophe is likely to take decades. The harsh reality is that 24 miles of coastline now too radioactive for human habitation is likely never to recover from the extensive earthquake and tsunami damage.

The loss of support for nuclear power now sweeping Japan is so dramatic that all 54 reactors in the country could be shut down or governed at test levels by April 2012.  Only 17 units are currently operating and Japanese regulatory policy requires routine outages every 13 months for safety inspections.  As they shut down for the scheduled inspection whether or not they will ever restart is now in question.

Monday
Jul112011

Even France to prioritize renewable over nuclear energy

French ecology minister, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, has announced plans for France to step up its investments in renewable energy, throwing into doubt future nuclear power expansion in the country. France gets 80% of its electricity from its 58 reactors. "Our objective is to rebalance the energy mix in favour of renewables,” Kosciusko-Morizet told the Financial Times.  Regarding the future of nuclear, she told the FT: "We are investing in [nuclear] safety, not in growth objectives as we are doing in renewables." France is launching a bid for five new offshore wind farms.