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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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Thursday
May312012

Fears continue over potential collapse of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 high-level radioactive waste storage pool

Common Dreams has reported on May 28th in an article entitled "Growing Fear Over Fukushima Fuel Pool 4 as Wall Bulge Detected".

The article is based largely on New York Times reporting in an article entitled "Concerns Grow About Spent Fuel Rods at Fukushima Daiichi," by Hiroko Tabuchi and Matthew L. Wald on May 26, 2012.

The New York Times reported that Goshi Hosono, Japan's environment and nuclear minister, inspected "the No. 4 reactor building at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, Saturday, May 26, 2012. The visit by Hosono, apparently aimed at demonstrating the safety of the facility, came amid renewed concerns about conditions at the plant's No. 4 reactor after its operator reported a bulging of the building's wall. (Toshiaki Shimizu, Japan Pool) [Yellow reactor containment dome at center background.]" (see photo, left; note that the high-level radioactive waste pool is located beneath the white plastic tarp just beside Hosono on his left).

The New York Times also quotes Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute and one of the experts raising concerns: “The No. 4 reactor is visibly damaged and in a fragile state, down to the floor that holds the spent fuel pool. Any radioactive release could be huge and go directly into the environment.”

(Koide spoke on May 5th at the University of Chicago. Beyond Nuclear partner Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) information tabled at the event, while Beyond Nuclear covered the Chicago Green Festival.)

The New York Times also quoted Tadahiro Katsuta, an associate professor of nuclear science at Tokyo’s Meiji University: “Japan did not want to admit that the nuclear fuel cycle might be a failed policy, and did not think seriously about a safer, more permanent way to store spent fuel.”

(In August 2010, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps was introduced to Dr. Katsuta in Tokyo, not long after Kevin had visited Fukushima Daiichi. In September 2010, Dr. Katsuta requested that Kevin help him arrange meetings in Washington, D.C. Dr. Katsuta was working in collaboration with Dr. Frank Von Hippel at Princeton University on a study regarding alternatives to reprocessing irradiated nuclear fuel in Japan. While the Nuclear Energy Institute's Steve Kraft, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future's Allison Macfarlane, gladly accepted Dr. Katsuta's invitation to meet, not one office at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission accepted the request. This despite initially positive responses from a number of NRC Commissioners' offices, as well as NRC's Spent Fuel Project Office, its international relations office, etc. Apparently, the kabosh was put on any meetings taking place at NRC once the Office of Public Affairs found out. NRC's OPA is headed by Elliot Brenner, who previously headed communications for Dick Cheney.)

Tuesday
May292012

Bluefin tuna contaminated with Fukushima Daiichi cesium documented on U.S. West Coast

Bluefin tuna can grow to be 10 feet long and weigh 1,000 pounds. They can swim as far as 45,000 miles in a 16 month period of time.Common DreamsReuters, and the Guardian (including a videoof the Japanese government's response to the news) have reported that bluefin tuna which had migrated from Japan's east coast to the U.S. west coast tested positive for elevated levels of radioactive cesium in August 2011, about four months after massive radioactively contaminated water releases to the Pacific Ocean took place at Fukushima Daiichi. Bluefin tuna is a prized seafood. Although the levels of radioactive cesium-137 and cesium-134 are reportedly lower than Japanese and U.S. permissible levels for consumption, the U.S. National Academy of Science has long maintained that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how low the dose, carries a health risk of cancer, and that these risks accumulate over a lifetime.

The Reuters article gives the false impression that radioactive cesium-137 is somehow naturally occurring. While Ce-137 was released from atmospheric atomic bomb tests for decades beginning in 1945, and thus can be termed a part of "background" radioactivity levels, this should not be confused with "natural background," for atomic weapons blasts, and their radioactive fallout, are far from "natural." Cs-137, with a 30 year half-life and 300 to 600 year hazardous persistence, was released in large amounts by the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, especially in March and April 2011. Cs-134, with a 2 year half-life (and 20 to 40 year hazardous persistence), contamination in bluefin tuna is unmistakably of Fukushima Daiichi origin.

Wednesday
May232012

Angst or Arithmetic: why Germans are so skeptical about nuclear energy

The first in a six-part series from the Heinrich Böll Foundation, deals with the roots of nuclear energy's unpopularity in Germany. It begins:

"The fact that Germany, in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster, redoubled its efforts to phase out nuclear energy has nothing to do with hysteria or postwar angst. on the contrary, a majority of Germans, including much of the political class, has been unconvinced of its merits since the early 1980s; the source of this anti- atom consensus lies not in emotional populism but rather in the persuasive, fact- based arguments of a powerful, grassroots social movement that has long included nuclear physicists and other bona fide experts." By Paul Hockenos. Read the full report here.

This paper is part one of a six-part series on the German Energy Transition. The authors are experts on different issues such as renewable energies, rural communities, social movements, and nuclear power.  

Saturday
May122012

"A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World"

Mushroom cloud rising above Hiroshima after U.S. atomic bombing of Japan, August 1945As described in an op-ed posted at CNN, "A Nuclear Clash Could Starve the World," Jayantha Dhanapala and Ira Helfand report on the findings of a new PSR/IPPNW report, NUCLEAR FAMINE: A BILLION PEOPLE AT RISK.

Among the findings: even a limited nuclear war, as between Indian and Pakistan, involving less than half of 1% of the world's nuclear arsenals, would cause climate disruption that could set off a global famine; 100 Hiroshima-sized bombs (see photo, left) exploded in a war between India and Pakistan would lead to the starvation of an estimated 1 billion people, one-sixth of the human race, over the following decade; each U.S. Trident nuclear submarine can destroy 100 cities and produce the global famine described in the study (the United States has 14 Tridents). 

Jayantha Dhanapala is a former ambassador to the United States from Sri Lanka, U.N. under-secretary general for disarmament and chairman of the 1995 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference. Ira Helfand is the past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and current North American vice president of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW).

Saturday
May122012

"Fukushima Daiichi: It May Be Too Late Unless the Military Steps In"

Workers wearing white radiation protection suits beside surface of high-level radioactive waste storage pool at Fukushima DaiichiJapanese diplomat Akio Matsumura has posted a new blog proposing that military intervention be deployed to prevent the worst from happening at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 (see photo, left). He proposes that the Japan Self-Defense Forces be deployed to Unit 4 to offload high-level radioactive waste, before another, almost inevitable earthquake topples the building and its irradiated nuclear fuel catches fire. Unit 4's pool holds 8 times the radioactive Cesium-137 released by Chernobyl. But a fire in Unit 4's pool would very likely lead to the evacuation of the entire site, risking 85 times Chernobyl's hazardous Cesium-137 escaping if all 7 of Fukushima Daiichi's pools are allowed to boil dry and catch fire (not to mention what more would happen if its three melted down reactor cores are no longer cooled either).