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.
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.
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.
"They scoop up soil from their gardens and dump it in holes dug out in parks and nearby forests, scrub their roofs with soap and refuse to let their children play outside.
"More than three months after a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear meltdown at a nearby power plant, Fukushima residents are scrambling to cope with contamination on their own in the absence of a long-term plan from the government.
" 'Everything and everyone here is paralysed and we feel left on our own, unsure whether it's actually safe for us to stay in the city,' said Akiko Itoh, 42, with her four-year old son in her lap." Reuters
"The plant has been leaking radioactive substances since it was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake and resulting tsunami on March 11.
About 45 per cent of children in Fukushima prefecture experienced thyroid exposure to radiation after the nuclear power there was damaged in March, officials said Tuesday." The Hindu