"Letters from Mina"

Mrs. Sachiko Sato (background) and her daughter Mina (age 13), speaking in New York City in September 2011. AP photo.In September 2011, about six months after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe began, Beyond Nuclear had the honor and privilege of hosting Mrs. Sachiko Sato, a catastrophe survivor, and her teenage son and daugther.

Also in the delegation were Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action-Kyodo, and anti-nuclear activists from Hokkaido. The group presented at numerous events in Washington, D.C. and the New York City metropolitan area.

Recently, Aileen Mioko Smith shared the news with Beyond Nuclear that a little booklet has been published, in Japanese language, entitled "Letters from Mina." It includes correspondence between Mrs. Sato, and her daughter Mina, from 2014. It also includes reflections, presented by Mina, to her classmates, about her heartbreak and healing in the aftermath of having to flee their family farm and home, likely forever, due to the nuclear catastrophe and radioactive contamination.

Mina gave her mother permission to share the letters and reflections, and Mrs. Sato has approved Beyond Nuclear posting the English translations here.


New edition of The Thunderbird: A closer look at Fukushima

What is new at the stricken Fukushima nuclear site since the March 11, 2011 nuclear disaster there began? What really happened? And what are the health implications, both in Japan and for the U.S. if a similar nuclear disaster happened here? The newly released spring edition of the Beyond Nuclear newsletter, The Thunderbird, looks at these issues and more. Feel free to download, reprint and distribute it widely.


Fukushima at 4: implications for the U.S.

Beyond Nuclear has released a press release, looking to tomorrow's fourth anniversary since the Fukushima, Japan nuclear disater began.

Headlined: "Higher radiation doses could be ruled "acceptable" after nuclear disaster: "Fukushima" in the U.S. an ever-present danger," the release sounded the alarm over the potential for the Environmental Protection Agency to weaken radiation exposure standards that could see affected populations forced to accept higher “allowable” doses of radiation to make severe nuclear accidents appear tolerable.

“There is every reason to believe the Environmental Protection Agency could simply increase the ‘permissible’ dose of radiation as authorities did in Japan,” said Cindy Folkers, radiation and health specialist at Beyond Nuclear. "You just have to look at the EPA guidelines for state and local governments during a nuclear disaster to see that they are planning on allowing 5-20 times the radiation dose recommended internationally.

"The industry and government shouldn't be allowed to make a nuclear catastrophe appear more survivable than it is by inflating allowable radiation exposure levels, " Folkers continued.

The release also examined the continued potential for a Fukushima-style nuclear disaster on U.S. soil due to an industry-compliant regulator that has declined to mandate essential safety retrofits for U.S. "Fukushima" reactors. Read the full release here.


Coalition challenges RPV regulatory rollbacks at Entergy's age-degraded Palisades atomic reactor on Great Lakes shore

Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor, located 4 miles south of South Haven, in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline.An environmental coalition, represented by Toledo-based attorney Terry Lodge, as well as expert witness Arnie Gundersen (Chief Engineer, Fairewinds Associates, Inc.), has filed another challenge to proposed safety regulation rollbacks regarding the age-degraded reactor pressure vessel (RPV) at Entergy Nuclear's 44-year-old Palisades atomic reactor located in Covert, MI on the Lake Michigan shoreline (see photo, left).

Lodge filed the intervention petition opposing Entergy's License Amendment Request (LAR), regarding RPV plates and welds decreasing below "Charpy V-Notch Upper-Shelf Energy" values of 50 ft.-lbs, by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) deadline. He also refiled Gundersen's expert witness declaration, which accompanied the coalition's parallel, Dec. 1, 2014 intervention petition opposing Entergy's LAR for "alternate" (that is, weakened) RPV pressurized thermal shock (PTS) regulatory treatment, as well as a Feb. 15, 2015 Greenpeace International report warning that RPV cracking in Belgian reactors could indicate a worldwide danger, including at Palisades.

Under direct questioning by watchdogs, NRC has been forced to admit, multiple times, that Palisades has the single worst embrittled RPV in the U.S. Palisades' RPV is at serious risk of PTS fracture. A loss-of-coolant-accident (LOCA) would result, and almost certain reactor core meltdown. If containment were breached, a catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity would occur on the very edge of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes serve as the drinking water supply for 40 million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Don't Waste Michigan, Michigan Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter, and Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago.


"Experts warned of nuke work overruns"

The Vogtle Unit 3 reactor pressure vessel, parked in front the Vogtle Unit 4 containment vessell bottom head, May 2013. Photo credit: Georgia Power.As reported by Matt Kempner in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the two new atomic reactors under construction at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Georgia are "more than three years behind schedule," and costs for just one partner, Georgia Power (a subsidiary of Southern Nuclear) "is at least $1.4 billion, or 23 percent, over original projections." More.