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Wednesday
Jun082011

Victory! Connecticut gives go-ahead to "Green Bank"

From the Coalition for Green Capital: "Thanks to the leadership of Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and leaders in the state legislature, the Connecticut General Assembly passed new energy legislation that puts Connecticut at the forefront of state efforts to convert to a clean energy economy. Among other elements, this bill reconstitutes Connecticut’s existing Clean Energy Fund to form the nation’s first full-scale “Green Bank”, which will enable the state to leverage limited state resources as well as private capital to spur deployment of clean energy and energy efficiency projects."

Wednesday
Jun082011

Victory! Fresno County (CA) rejects proposed nuclear reactors

Fresno County, CA officials have rejected plans for up to two new nuclear reactors. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on June 7 to withhold a letter of interest for the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group. The NEG was backed by French energy corporation, Areva which also just announced a retreat from new nuclear construction in the U.S. Almost all of Areva's nuclear expansion plans in the US have fallen apart over the last several years.

Wednesday
Jun082011

Worse than meltdown now suspected at three Fukushima reactors

The Guardian reports that "molten nuclear fuel in three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is likely to have burned through pressure vessels, not just the cores, Japan has said in a report in which it also acknowledges it was unprepared for an accident of the severity of Fukushima. It is the first time Japanese authorities have admitted the possibility that the fuel suffered "melt-through" – a more serious scenario than a core meltdown.

Tuesday
Jun072011

Residents outside evacuation zone around Fukushima Daiichi receiving over 2 rem per year radiation doses!

The Asahi Shimbun has reported that "A report released June 3 by the science ministry said annual accumulated radiation levels are estimated at 20.1, 20.8, 23.8 millisieverts in the Ishida and Kamioguni areas of the Ryozen-machi district in Date city, and the Ohara area of the Hara-machi district of Minami-Soma, respectively...These areas lie beyond the planned evacuation zone, which is just outside the off-limits area within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant." This converts to 2.01, 2.08, and 2.38 rems per year -- more than German nuclear power plant workers are allowed to receive! Despite this, the paper reports "Government officials in charge of nuclear disaster control measures tried to reassure the residents by telling them that the standard of 20 millisieverts is among the lowest in the world." This is blatantly false -- members of the public in the U.S., for example, are allowed only 100 millirem per year doses of radioactivity from the uranium fuel chain, including emissions from nuclear power plants, in a year's time. When the Japanese federal Ministry of Education try to raise the permissible dose for schoolchildren playing on contaminated schoolyards from 100 mrem/yr to 2 rem/yr, large-scale parent protests forced the federal government to reverse the decision and beginning "cleaning up" the contaminated playgrounds. Where the contaminated topsoil will be buried, or how the radioactivity will be stopped from leaking into groundwater, has not been reported. The article also reports that "Shoji Nishida, the mayor of Date, also said the 20-millisievert level does not pose an immediate danger." No immediate danger was a pat phrase of false assurance uttered countless times by Japanese nuclear officials in the first weeks of the catastrophe. "No immediate danger" was repeated so often after the Three Mile Island meltdown by nuclear officials that Rosalie Bertell made it the title of her book about radioactivity's hazards -- only she added a question mark! The phrase remains silent about latent health impacts -- such as childhood leukemia, which has a latency period of a few years.

Tuesday
Jun072011

Twice as much radioactivity released from Fukushima Daiichi in first WEEK as Tepco said had been released in first month

As reported by the U.K. Guardian and posted at Commondreams, in yet another extremely belated announcement, the Japanese federal Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) has now admitted that "770,000 terabequerels – about 20% as much as the official estimate for Chernobyl – of radiation seeped from the plant in the week after the tsunami, more than double the initial estimate of 370,000." A becquerel is defined as one radioactive disintegration per second; a terabequerel is one trillion radioactive disintegrations per second. That initial estimate, however, was supposed to have accounted for the first month of the catastrophe; the new figure accounts for radioactivity releases during only the first week of the disaster. NISA has also now admitted, nearly three months after this nuclear calamity began on March 11th, that the Unit 1 reactor core completely melted down just five hours after the earthquake disabled the electrical grid, and then the tsunami crippled the plant's emergency backup cooling systems; NISA has also admitted a second reactor core melted down much more quickly than previously acknowledged. Of course, radioactivity releases have continued on even after that first week or month -- right up to the present moment, with the highest atmospheric releases yet detected at the nuclear power plant, with a 400 rem per hour lethal radioactivity dose rate in the Unit 1 reactor building, preventing human access. As that building was destroyed by the first of several giant hydrogen gas explosions, such highly radioactive steam could easily find its way out into the environment. An absorbed dose of 350 rem is fatal for 50% of the people exposed to it. BBC also reported on this story, as did the Wall Street Journal (subscription required).