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International

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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Monday
Nov122012

Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe clean-up and decontamination costs double to $125 billion

As reported by Agence France-Presse,  the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has admitted that post-Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe clean-up and decontamination costs will likely double from previous estimates to $125 billion, a whopping 2% of Japan's gross domestic product (GDP). This is reminiscent of post-Chernobyl impacts on countries such as Belarus, where up to 5% of its GDP went toward Chernobyl mitigation -- year after year.

The article reports:

TEPCO chairman Kazuhiko Shimokobe told reporters his company could become a shell, existing only to sort out the mess left by the tsunami-sparked disaster and dependent on the government for money.

"If we address the swelling costs by doubling the amount of government bond issuance (to 10 trillion), our firm will become an entity only for the purpose of dealing with post-accident issues," a company statement said.

The clean-up and decontamination efforts are expected to take decades.

Monday
Nov122012

U.S. needs Japan to stay nuclear, CSIS President Hamre urges

As reported by The Japan Times, John Hamre, the president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington D.C. based think tank, has urged that Japan remain committed to nuclear power, despite the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and the groundswell of anti-nuclear activism it has inspired. Oddly, Hamre argued that Japan should remain devoted to nuclear power, in order to stem the tide of nuclear weapons proliferation worldwide.

The article reports:

Hamre also said the policy poses a security concern from the viewpoint of international control for nonproliferation of nuclear materials.

"Nuclear power from the very beginning was (not only) a source of promise, but (also) a source of great threat because nuclear power electric generation is also the base for making nuclear weapons, and it's a great risk to the world to have commercial nuclear power plants because there is a possibility of diverting the material and turning it into weapons.

"So for the last 40 years the U.S. and Japan, along with Europe, have been leaders in creating an international system to monitor and control the use of commercial nuclear energy so that we know if people were illegitimately going to divert it and turn it into weapons," he said.

If Japan is to give up nuclear energy — and if nuclear power is to wither in the U.S. due to competition with cheap natural gas and in Europe as in the case of Germany — "the countries that have given us the security system are going to diminish, and who's going to replace them?" he said. "Americans cannot afford from a security standpoint to have Japan abandon nuclear power. It's too important to us."

Of course, the United States is the only country to have actually ever used atomic weapons in warfare -- against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Hamre's arguments that renewable energy cannot replace nuclear power have been disproved, as by Arjun Makhijani's Carbon-Free/Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy.

Monday
Nov122012

Japan nuclear plant on fault line may be next Fukushima, says geologist 

Oi nuclear power plant, with the Sea of Japan in the backgroundAgence France-Presse has reported that Mitsuhisa Watanabe, a tectonic geomorphologist at Tokyo’s Toyo University who is serving on a scientific advisory panel looking at the seismic risks at Oi nuclear power plant in Japan, has warned against continued operations at the two atomic reactors.

When asked if Kansai Electric Power Company should be allowed to continue operating the reactors on top of what he deems an active earthquake fault, Watanabe answered:

“It would be a very silly option.”

“We would have learned nothing from Fukushima. I’m afraid we would see a repeat (of the disaster) one day.”

The two reactors at Oi, in Fukui Prefecture on the shore of the Sea of Japan on the western edge of Honshu, were allowed to restart last June by Japanese Prime Minister Noda, despite regular protests by tens and even hundreds of thousands of protestors at his residence, which continue to the present day. They are the only two reactors in Japan to have been restarted since the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe on March 11, 2011. The catastrophe destroyed four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Although 50 reactors remain operable in Japan, 48 have remained shutdown due to grassroots pressure.

Tuesday
Nov062012

U.S.-Canadian environmental coalition defends Davis-Besse intervention at ASLB oral argument pre-hearings in Toledo

Environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo speaks out against Davis-Besse's 20 year license extension at an NRC meeting at Oak Harbor High School, Oak Harbor, OH on August 9, 2012The environmental coalition comprised of Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio has defended its intervention contentions against the proposed 20 year license extension at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company's (FENOC) Davis-Besse atomic reactor. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board (ASLB) oral argument pre-hearings took place on Nov. 5th and 6th (yes, Election Day) in Toledo, Ohio at the Lucas County Courthouse. The coalition's representatives, including attorney Terry Lodge of Toledo (photo, left), Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, and Michael Keegan of Don't Waste Michigan, squared off against opposition to the contentions mounted by FENOC's and NRC's legal teams and experts.

The environmental coalition defended its Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA) analyses contentions -- already admitted for a full hearing on the merits by ASLB -- against a motion for summary disposition mounted by FENOC. The coalition also advocated for admission of its cracked concrete containment contention for a full hearing on the merits, while FENOC and NRC staff opposed it.

On Monday, the Toledo Blade published an editorial, "Tough enough to last?", questioning the structural integrity of the shield building for 25 more years (2012 to 2037). Today, it ran an article, "Davis-Besse hearings open." U.S. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a long-time watchdog on Davis-Besse and other FENOC atomic reactors,submitted a statement for the hearing record.

Friday
Nov022012

Radioactive leak at Flamanville reactor in France

The EDF-owended Flamanville 1 reactor on France's Normandy coast experienced a radioactive leak late on October 24th. Although downplayed by the French nuclear authority, a French watchdog group based near Flamanville received direct reports from workers, who described a very close call that almost cost three plant workers their lives. The unit had been shut down since the end of July for refueling. Around 42,000 liters of 300°C radioactive water escaped from a primary cooling circuit, contaminating the reactor building. Flamanville has two operating reactors, with the third, an EPR design, still under construction but way behind schedule and over budget.