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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
Jan192012

False claims (on Frontline and elsewhere) persist that nuclear-free Germany will emit more CO2

The suggestion made during the Frontline program that Germany will emit more Co2 as a result of its nuclear phase-out is another perfect example of those skeptics who claim that the German nuclear phase-out was a panicked overreaction and could even amount to environmental vandalism.  But science disproves these claims. Thanks to Arne Jungjohann at the Heinrich Boell Institute for the following rebuttal:

Looking at the German nuclear phase-out, some have argued that Germany will produce an extra 300m tones of carbon dioxide between now and 2020. However, Numerous feasibility studies, amongst others by the Federal Environmental Agency or an independent Commission on Energy Choices , have shown that the nuclear phase-out will not jeopardize Germany's ambitious climate action efforts: reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050. If emissions were to rise due to the nuclear phase-out, the government would have to come up with compensating measures to reach these targets.

However, it is unlikely that emissions will rise, because according to the rules of the EU cap-and-trade system there is a cap for emissions from the energy sector and that of course also applies for Germany. Even if Germany’s nuclear capacity was to be replaced by using energy generated in coal plants, the total energy emissions would still have to be reduced. This could be achieved by either shifting to more natural gas or by replacing older coal plants with new and more efficient plants. That's the genius of a cap-and-trade system. Believe it or not, with that system in place, Germany's nuclear phase-out will even cause emissions in other European countries to fall.

The German nuclear phase-out – which is being followed by other countries including Switzerland, Italy and Belgium – is in reality another important element to accelerate the long-term strategy of a transition towards a low-carbon economy.

Friday
Jan132012

Study finds childhood leukemia doubled around French reactors

A major epidemiological study just published in the January 2012 edition of The International Journal of Cancer indicates there is “a possible excess risk” of acute leukemia among children living in close vicinity to French nuclear power plants (NPP). The study called for an “investigation for potential risk factors related to the vicinity of NPP, and collaborative analysis of multisite studies conducted in various countries.”

The study found a doubling of occurrence of childhood leukemia between the years of 2002-2007 among children under 5 years living within 5 km of nuclear plants – similar to the findings of the German 2008 study by the Cancer Registry in Mainz which found an association between the nearness of residence to nuclear power plants and the risk of childhood leukemia.

The epidemiological study was conducted by a team from the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale, the Institut de Radioprotection et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) and the National Register of hematological diseases of children in Villejuif. The results marked a surprising and encouraging change at IRSN which had endeavored to discredit earlier French epidemiological studies that had shown an impact of nuclear facilities on health.



Monday
Jan022012

Fukushima further "explodes the myth" of "nuclear renaissance"

Images such as the explosion at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 seared into the public's mind internationally.In a new report entitled "Nuclear Safety and Nuclear Economics: Historically, Accidents Dim the Prospects for Nuclear Reactor Construction; Fukushima Will Have a Major Impact," Dr. Mark Cooper of the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment compares the cost increases for new reactor construction -- due to increased nuclear safety regulation in the aftermath of the 1979 Three Mile Island meltdown -- to escalating costs that can be expected after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Cooper points out, however, the new reactor construction costs were already skyrocketing before the TMI and Fukushima meltdowns -- but the accidents accelerated the cost increases dramatically.

He concludes: "From a big picture perspective, Fukushima has had and is likely to continue to have an electrifying impact because it combines the most powerful message from TMI on cost escalation with the most powerful message from Chernobyl on the risk of nuclear reactors in a nation where it was not supposed to happen. And, it has taken place in an environment where information and images flow instantaneously around the world, so the public sees the drama and trauma of losing control of a nuclear reaction in real time."

Sunday
Jan012012

Allegations of deep ties between TEPCO and the Japanese mafia

The Atlantic Wire reports that the connections between Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and the yakuza, or Japanese mafia, go much deeper than just the recruiting of laborers desparate enough to take jobs in Fukushima Daiichi's hazardous radiation fields. Commenting on the desparation of taking a job at Fukushima Daiichi, a yakuza explained it as "folk wisdom": “When a man has to survive doing something, it’s the nuclear industry; for a woman, it’s the sex industry.”

The article quotes a Japanese federal senator: "TEPCO's involvement with anti-social forces and their inability to filter them out of the work-place is a national security issue. It is one reason that increasingly in the Diet we are talking de facto nationalization of the company. Nuclear energy shouldn't be in the hands of the yakuza. They're gamblers and an intelligent person doesn't want them to have atomic dice to play with." The senator added: “The primary difference between TEPCO and the yakuza is they have different corporate logos...They both are essentially criminal organizations that place profits above the safety and welfare of the residents where they operate; they both exploit their workers. On the other hand, the yakuza may care more about what happens where they operate because many of them live there. For Tokyo Electric Power Company, Fukushima is just the equivalent of a parking lot.”

Thursday
Dec222011

First Nations of North Shore of Lake Huron take strong stand against high-level radioactive waste dump proposal

Photo by Robert Del Tredichi of uranium tailings at Elliot Lake, showing devastating impact of radioactivity and toxic chemicals on the environmentAs announced in a media release, the North Shore Tribal Council of Lake Huron, representing 7 First Nations communities, has expressed its strong opposition to a bid by the City of Elliot Lake in Ontario to serve as a Canada-wide dumpsite for high-level radioactive waste. Elliot Lake remains severely contaminated after decades of a dozen uranium mines in its immediate area. The nuclear utility run Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO) has been put in charge of searching for a "volunteer host" for irradiated nuclear fuel, hazardous for millions of years. The North Shore Tribal Council said "Our statement to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and to the Nuclear Waste Management Organization is: Do not waste your financial resources if you plan to conduct a study in this area because a nuclear waste dump is not going to happen here."

A 1998 book, republished in 2003, entitled "This Is Our Homeland," edited by Serpent River First Nation Members Lorraine Rekmans and Keith Lewis, as well as Anabel Dwyer, contains testimonials by First Nation and other survivors of decades of uranium mining at Elliot Lake.