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Beyond Nuclear, while U.S. based, recognizes that the issue of nuclear power, particularly in relation to climate change and reactor expansion, has become an international issue. Multi-national corporations, often with foreign ownership, have taken over every facet of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining to waste disposition. Beyond Nuclear is currently engaged in supportive efforts in a number of different countries.

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Wednesday
Apr302014

Has Fukushima nuclear catastrophe contributed to Japan's economic slippage?

Al Jazeera reports that India has surpassed Japan, to take on the mantle of the world's third largest national economy, in terms of purchasing power parity, following behind the U.S. and China. This begs the question, how much has the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe dragged down the Japanese economy?

Sunday
Apr272014

"Forced to Flee Radiation, Fearful Japanese Villagers Are Reluctant to Return"

As reported by Martin Fackler of the New York Times, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the Japanese national government under Prime Minister Abe's pro-nuclear Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) administration are pressuring nuclear evacuees from around Fukushima Daiichi to move back to their radioactively contaminated homes.

The pressure comes in the form of an end to meager yet essential compenstation payments worth $1,000 per month or less, as well the closing of barracks-like emergency shelters where families have had to live for over three years now. TEPCO, forced to pay such meager compensation by the Japanese government, often offers at most half the value of a family's unrecoverable home, or even as little at $3,000.

Such terms have left penniless nuclear evacuees with little choice but to return to their radioactively contaminated homes, like it or not.

“This is inhumane and irresponsible,” said Teruhisa Maruyama, a lawyer who leads the Support Group for Victims of the Nuclear Accident, a Tokyo-based legal organization that helps residents seek increased compensation.

“The national government knows that full compensation could add up to big money, enough to raise public doubts about the wisdom of using nuclear power in Japan.”

“They want to say that everything is back to normal so they can keep their nuclear plants,” said Mr. Satoshi Mizuochi, 57, a nuclear evacuee. “Failing to compensate us for our losses is a way of pressuring us to go back.”

Friday
Apr252014

"U.S. welcomes Japan's pro-nuclear policy in joint statement"

While President Obama played soccer with a remarkable Japanese humanoid robot yesterday, robotic probes sent into the wrecked reactors at Fukushima Daiichi have quickly ceased functioning due to the high gamma radiation doses destroying their electronic circuitry.Kyodo News reports:

"The United States on Friday welcomed Japan's recently decided new energy policy that supports the use of nuclear power despite the devastating accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

In a joint statement released after Japanese and U.S. leaders held a meeting in Tokyo a day earlier, the United States said it "welcomed Japan's new Strategic Energy Plan, which includes global, peaceful and safe use of nuclear energy and acceleration of the introduction of renewable energy."

The remarks are in contrast to the concerns the United States is said to have expressed when the previous government led by the Democratic Party of Japan, now the main opposition party, decided in 2012 on an energy strategy that seeks to phase out nuclear power."

This pro-nuclear U.S.-Japanese policy statement comes on the eve of the 28-year mark of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, and 37 months after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe began. Although Prime Minister In a bid to secure the 2020 Summer Games for Tokyo, Abe assured the International Olympic Committee last year that the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe was "under control." But his flippant words were contradicted just five days ago by a knowledgable insider, as reported by Reuters in an article entitled "Fukushima No. 1 boss admits plant doesn't have complete control over water problems."

Tuesday
Apr222014

Godzilla's Secret History, Atomic Origins

The Huffington Post has published a cultural history, by Kevin Lankes, of Godzilla's atomic origins. The original Japanese film came out in 1954, shortly after the U.S. military's "Operation Castle Bravo" H-bomb "test" at Bikini blanketed a Japanese fishing fleet with radioactivity, contaminating its catch (some of which was then sold and consumed across Japan to unwitting families), and killing one of the crew members of the fishing boat Lucky Dragon 5 within a matter of months (more Lucky Dragon 5 crew died later from their radiation exposures).

The article quotes Charlotte Eubanks, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Japanese at The Pennsylvania State University, on the widespread cultural anxiety at the time of the film's release:

"During the U.S.-led occupation, which lasted until 1952, there was a moratorium on any press coverage dealing with the atomic aftermath in any in-depth way. The thinking was that too much attention to the atomic bombings would derail democratization efforts and would undermine U.S. authority, particularly since the U.S. had already begun using Japanese territory as a base from which to launch bombing raids on Vietnam. With the end of the occupation, some activists and journalists started to deal directly with the atomic bombings, but they were not getting much traction. People were more interested in trying to rebuild. But then there was a real game-changer. The U.S. conducted a nuclear test over the Bikini atoll and a Japanese fishing ship, the Lucky Dragon, its crew, and all their fish were exposed to the fallout radiation. When this hit the newspapers, it ignited an enormous scare, as people throughout the country feared that they had been exposed to nuclear radiation through consuming tainted fish. That was in March 1954, shortly before the release of Gojira, the opening scene of which features a fishing crew exposed to an unexplained, destructive flash of light. So, when that hit the big screens, it touched a real nerve with the Japanese public."

A new American version of Godzilla will hit theaters on May 16th. Although this article doesn't mention, one must wonder what influence the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe has had on the filmmakers.

Monday
Apr212014

Chernobyl no "Eden" after 28 years

A newly published study has uncovered alarming indications of biological loss and ecological collapse in the area around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor that exploded in Ukraine on April 26, 1986. 

Nuclear boosters have long claimed that the superficial appearance of teeming wildlife in the approximately 1,000 square mile Chernobyl exclusion zone indicates an Eden-like outcome. But the study observed a frightening halt to organic decay and the disappearance of important microbes that indicate the steady advance of a potential “silent spring.” 

“The illusion that the absence of humanity can only benefit wildlife is trumped when humanity has inflicted man-made poisons on a fragile ecosystem whose inhabitants are now biologically compromised by radiation exposures that will continue indefinitely,” observed Linda Gunter, international specialist at Beyond Nuclear, of the study’s findings.

 

Highly reduced mass loss rates and increased litter layer in radioactively contaminated areas, published in Oecologia, March 4, 2014, by Mousseau (Dr. Tim Mousseau pictured), Milinevsky, Kenney‑Hunt and Møller, found that the natural cycle of decay of organic materials around Chernobyl is largely dependent on microbial communities which have been significantly reduced in these radioactively contaminated zones. 

“We already know about plant and insect mutations and the shortened lifespans of birds in the zone, but this news is even more alarming,” said Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear. “The long-term consequences of the loss of this essential microbial community could be unprecedented ecologically, while the most immediate consequence is the build-up of undecayed leaf matter. This creates an increased risk of forest fires which could spread radioactivity to uncontaminated areas,” Gunter said.

Read the full press release