The New York Times, in an article entitled "In Japan Reactor Failings, Danger Signs for the U.S.," has reported that the hardened vent retrofits on the Unit 1, Unit 2, and Unit 3 General Electric Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors failed to reduce pressure (by releasing radioactive steam to the environment) due to the lack of electricity from earthquake and tsunami damage. This led to hydrogen gas build up, and then massive explosions that damaged or utterly destroyed the three reactor buildings. On April 13th, Beyond Nuclear filed an emergency enforcement petition calling upon NRC to immediately suspend the operating licenses at 21 U.S. GE BWR Mark 1s.
Michael Leonardi, an ally of Beyond Nuclear in environmental coalition efforts to block the 20 year license extension at Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Ohio (see the Counterpunch article from last month), has reported at Counterpunch that Italian PM Berlusconi is attempting to postpone a national referendum set for June 12th and 13th that would end his proposed nuclear relapse in Italy. The anti-nuclear referendum drive required the gathering of 500,000 petition signatures. Berlusconi privately owns and/or controls much of the media in Italy, and has effectively censored any efforts by the anti-nuclear movement to spread the word about the referendum. Michael Leonardi reports about a moment of deep cynicism, when Berlusconi and French President Nicholas Sarkozy stood together in Rome to promote building new French reactors in Italy on Chernobyl's 25th anniversary on April 26th. Berlusconi said to the assembled press that the Italian voters had been scared by Fukushima, just as they had been by "leftists and ecologists" after Chernobyl, so a year-long calm down period before the referendum should take place. Leonardi quoted Angelo Bonelli, President of the Italian Green Party, as saying: "The referendums will be voted on anyway, despite the fact that the thieves of democracy have returned to action. The attempts of the government to steal the democratic rights of the Italian people to vote against nuclear energy and the privatization of water will not succeed."
And see video of the Greenpeace action posted earlier on the Italy page.
Reuters: A government body conducted analyses on the damage tsunamis of various scale would inflict on a nuclear power plant, according to documents made public yesterday, adding to allegations that Japan and its largest utility failed to heed warnings.
The latest revelation, reported by the Mainichi daily, emerged as the government prepares to help the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) compensate victims of the crisis at the tsunami-crippled nuclear Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.
The government and TEPCO have repeatedly described the combination of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and the ensuing 15m tsunami as beyond expectations. Read more.
"The German government is combining its push for renewables with a rapid retreat from its existing nuclear assets", write Arne Jungjohann of the Heinrich Böll Foundation and Wilson Rockerson, CEO of Mesiter Consultants Group. "Following the Fukushima disaster, the German government announced a three-month shutdown of seven of its seventeen nuclear power plants and a review of its nuclear strategy. No blackout followed and national energy supply has remained stable. Germany, in particular, is pursuing a path forward that represents a significant departure from business-as-usual in the US and other countries. Rather than developing nuclear power, Germany is aggressively pursuing renewable energy in combination with innovative new electricity grid management strategies. Interestingly, Germany used to depend much more on nuclear electricity (~30% of national supply in 1999) than the U.S. currently does (~20%)."