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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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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

Sunday
Apr202014

"Fukushima No. 1 boss admits plant doesn’t have complete control over water problems"

A photo showing a part of the ALPS system at Fukushima Daiichi, posted at Enformable.comAs reported by Reuters, although Japanese Prime Minister Abe said to International Olympic Committee dignitaries in Buenos Aires last September “Let me assure you the situation is under control” at Fukushima Daiichi, in his successful bid to secure the 2020 Summer Games for Tokyo, it appears he was mistaken.

“It’s embarrassing to admit, but there are certain parts of the site where we don’t have full control,” Akira Ono told reporters touring the plant last week.

Ono is TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi top manager.

He was referring to recent incidents, including TEPCO directly "203 tons [203,000 liters, or about 53,600 U.S. gallons] of highly radioactive water to the wrong building, flooding its basement. Tepco is also investigating a leak into the ground a few days earlier from a plastic container used to store rainwater. In February, a tank sprouted a 100-ton [100,000 liters, about 26,400 gallons] leak of radioactive water, the most serious incident since leaks sparked international alarm last year."

The ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) was fabricated at Fukushima Daiichi by Toshiba with participation by Areva. It is designed to filter out some 60 radioactive substances from the constant flood of radioactive water at the site, including Cs-137 and Sr-90 contamination. However, apart from some test runs, ALPS has largely sat idle for the past two years. Just two days ago, "a ton [about 264 gallons] of radioactive water overflowed from a tank" in the ALPS system.

Thus, 440,000 tons [440,000,000 liters, or more than 116 million gallons] of highly radioactive water has accumulated in some 1,000 hastily built storage tanks, some of which have themselves failed, overflowed, or leaked, releasing large quantities of contamination into the soil, groundwater, and ocean.

Each week, TEPCO adds another two to three 1,000-ton [1,000,000 liters, or more than 264,000 gallons] storage tanks to deal with the non-stop deluge of radioactively contaminated cooling water needed to keep the melted cores in "cold shutdown," as well as the radioactive groundwater it mixes with in the basement levels of the shattered reactor buildings and damaged turbine halls.

Tuesday
Mar252014

Gundersen: Forever deadly radioactive waste, versus renewables

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer, Fairewinds Associates, Inc.As Fairewinds Associates, Inc.'s Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen (photo, left), concluded his keynote presentation at the Beyond Nuclear/FOE/NEIS "Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High" conference in Chicago in Dec. 2012:

"What we're seeing is that the cost of solar is plummeting while nuclear is rising," Gundersen said, adding that he often hears the rebuttal that the sun doesn't shine day and night. "But if you believe that man can build a repository to store nuclear waste for a quarter of a million years, surely those same people can find a way to store electricity overnight." ---GAZETTENET.com, November 16, 2012

Gundersen serves as the expert witness for an international environnental coalition (Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club, Ohio Chapter) that has challenged the risky, experimental steam generator replacements at Davis-Besse.

An overlapping coalition (including the Green Party of Ohio) has raised the radioactive waste dilemma and the renewables alternative as major arguments against the 20-year license extension at Davis-Besse.

Tuesday
Mar252014

International coalition opposing 20 more years at Davis-Besse cites radioactive waste dilemma, renewable alternatives

Environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge of ToledoThe environmental coalition opposing the 20-year license extension sought by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) at its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore east of Toledo has spoken out at NRC Environmental Impact Statement public comment meetings. The coalition issued a press release, focused on the unsolved dilemma created by Davis-Besse's ongoing generation of forever deadly high-level radioactive waste, as well as the renewables alternative (wind power, solar PV, etc.) to a risky, dubious 20 more years of atomic reactor operations.

The press release quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps: “The worsening cracking of Davis-Besse’s concrete containment, the corrosion of its inner steel containment vessel, the risks of its experimental steam generator replacement, and its recently revealed Shield Building wall gap are clear signs that this atomic reactor is overdue for retirement and decommissioning.”

The international coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio. Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as the coalition's legal counsel.

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