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Thursday
Jun022011

Nuclear largesse like a "drug addiction" for rural Japanese host communities, displacing fishing & farming

In an article entitled "In Japan, a Culture That Promotes Nuclear Dependency," the New York Times reports on well over a billion dollars per year paid out annually to local Japanese municipalities host to nuclear power plants, effectively buying their silence on safety risks. (A similar dynamic is far from unknown in certain places in the U.S., of course: often at a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission public meeting about an old reactor license extension or a proposed new reactor license application, a line of local public officials, business owners, etc. will go first at the microphone, singing the praises of nuclear power. An attempt by Entergy Nuclear to significantly decrease its local tax payments and increase electricity rates, however, led to anger and even lawsuits in southwest Michigan (Palisades) by Van Buren County and a coalition of industrial ratepayers. At Vermont Yankee, Entergy's refusal to add a penny to the decommissioning fund has angered not only locals, but the entire state and region.) As touched on in the article: when Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps visited Fukushima Daiichi and Daini last August as part of a national anti-MOX speaking tour organized by Green Action of Japan, the meeting with the mayors of those two towns took place in grand municipal buildings -- paid for by Tokyo Electric Power Company; but Tepco had not provided funds to maintain the buildings, and the small local governments struggled to keep them up. Those towns are now likely to remain ghost towns forevermore, of course, part of a "Dead Zone" of yet-undetermined size, given the large-scale radioactivity releases disgorged by the three meltdowns underway at Fukushima Daiichi. “In the end, we gave in for money” said Kazuyoshi Nakamura, an 84 year old former fisherman in Kashima, in the southwest of Japan's main island, Honshu. Kashima already "hosts" two atomic reactors at Chugoku Electric's Shimane nuclear plant, with a third currently under construction.

Thursday
Jun022011

" Japanese seniors volunteer for Fukushima 'suicide corps' "

CNN reports that over 250 Japanese seniors, 60 years of age or older, have volunteered for radioactively hazardous duty at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The Japanese federal government, at first averse to the idea, appears to be opening up to it now that finding enough workers to staff emergency efforts is becoming more challenging.

Wednesday
Jun012011

Check out - and download - our new ad!

Your local nuclear plant has a plan for your future....

It's called a meltdown.

So run the headlines on our new ad. Please click here to download it. Then send it to your members of congress; submit it to your organizational newsletter or local newspaper; link it to your Facebook page and email it to your friends. We don't have a big advertising budget - but we have all of you to help us place this piece as many places as possible. Thank you for helping! Together we can push for a moratorium on the operating licenses of all the US Mark I reactors that are carbon copies of the Fukushima reactors with the same small containments that can only be "saved" by venting radioactivity into the environment. We are also calling for a halt on all reactor license extensions and all subsidies and licenses for proposed new reactors. It's time to move to a Renewable Renaissance (like Germany!). Let your legislators know you won't support them if they support nuclear power.

 

Wednesday
Jun012011

NRC ACRS transcript on Fukushima review publicly available

On May 26th, Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear attended the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards Fukushima subcommittee meeting, held at NRC headquarters in Rockville, Maryland. The ACRS allowed representatives from the Nuclear Energy Institute and the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Nuclear Energy -- both nuclear power proponents -- to speak for an hour and a half each. Nuclear engineer Arnold Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, a skeptic of the industry, former whistleblower, and expert witness in environmental campaigns against dangerous old and proposed new reactors, was only granted five minutes (and was continually interrupted by extraneous noise on the ACRS phone system). However, the transcript is now available. The DOE presentation, from page 78 to 145, contains many revelations about the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe that have not yet been publicly reported. The DOE spokesman's 40 powerpoint slides are also included towards the end of the transcript, as is Arnold Gundersen's written testimony. During a very brief, previously unannounced opportunity for public comments at the end of the ACRS meeting, Kevin announced Beyond Nuclear's emergency enforcement petition to NRC -- supported by a growing number of anti-nuclear watchdog groups who live in the shadows of the 24 U.S. General Electric Boiling Water Reactor Mark 1s and their high-level radioactive waste storage pools, which are identical or very similar in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4. An NRC Petition Review Board will hear Beyond Nuclear's testimony, as well as that of its growing coalition of grassroots environmental allies, calling for the immediate suspension of GE BWR Mark 1 operating licenses, as well as for emergency back up power to be required on high-level radioactive waste storage pools, on June 8th.

Wednesday
Jun012011

Does NPR stand for Nuclear Powered Radio?

In its coverage yesterday of the German government's major decision to phase out nuclear power by 2022, National Public Radio (NPR) reporter Eric Westervelt made a couple very questionable statements skeptical of the fourth largest economy in the world's replacement of its atomic electricity with renewables and efficiency. It marks but the latest in a long series of questionable reports post-Fukushima. Westervelt stated that fossil fuels are "more polluting" than nuclear power, which seems to consider only greenhouse gas emissions, but disregards not only the potential for catastrophic accidents like Fukushima and Chernobyl, as well as the "routine" releases of radioactivity (and toxic chemicals) from atomic reactors and almost every step of the uranium fuel chain, from mining through final radioactive waste "disposal." Even more indefensibly, he asserted that Germany's decision is anomalous, that "the rest of Europe" is sticking with nuclear power. Of course, that ignores Austria's and Italy's decisions post-Chernobyl to phase out their own nuclear power programs, and to urge other neighboring countries to do the same. It ignores Ireland's campaign nearly a decade ago to send millions of postcards to British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the head of the Sellafield reprocessing facility to stop poisoning the Irish Sea with radioactivity. It also ignores Switzerland's steps just last week to disavow new reactors. Compare NPR's skeptical coverage of Germany's nuclear power phase out with the much more in depth coverage by Canadian broadcaster CTV (watch all four news clips), which examines with great interest the efficiency and renewable options not only in Germany, but also North America. Much of NPR's coverage of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe -- as by downplaying the severity of the disaster in the first days, and continuing to downplay the radioactivity risks to human health and the environment -- has raised many an alarm bell in the safe energy movement. When you hear slanted, pro-nuclear coverage on NPR, please consider contacting it, or your local NPR affiliate, to complain, and call for "fair and balanced" coverage as well as "fairness and accuracy in reporting," to borrow phrases (Beyond Nuclear's board member Karl Grossman, an investigative journalist, also serves on FAIR's board). However, a story by Louisa Lim on NPR's Morning Edition today asked many probing questions about the hazards of Fukushima's fallout for schoolchildren, a welcome change from much of NPR's coverage thus far. The story ironically pointed out the skepticism of one Fukushima mother, who has questioned not only the government's false assurances, but even the veracity of the Japanese media's coverage -- as the nuclear industry pays for a lot of advertizing on television and in the newspapers. The same, of course, can be said of NPR itself -- not only the Nuclear Energy Institute, but individual nuclear power utilities, have long been "underwriters" for NPR and its affiliates across the U.S.