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Japan

Until the Fukushima accident, Japan had 55 operating nuclear reactors as well as enrichment and reprocessing plants which had suffered a series of deadly accidents at its nuclear facilities resulting in the deaths of workers and releases of radioactivity into the environment and surrounding communities. Since the Fukushima disaster, there is growing opposition against re-opening those reactors closed for maintenance.

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Thursday
Apr232015

Drone with cesium lands on Japan PM Abe's office roof

A drone carrying a plastic bottle with trace amounts of cesium has landed on the roof of Japanese Prime Minister Abe's office, evidently sending a message about strong citizen opposition to a restart of that country's nuclear power plants. Japan remains at zero nuclear but a court this week gave approval to the restart of the Sendai reactors which will likely come on line this year. Abe (pictured) continues to tout not only a nuclear restart in Japan but the exporting of nuclear technology abroad. But a majority of Japanese citizens -- a figure that rose to 70% shortly after the Fukushima disaster -- still oppose a return to nuclear energy in that country.  More 

Wednesday
Apr222015

Local judge denies lawsuit to block Sendai nuke restart as Japanese vow continued resistance to potential atomic volcano

The district court judge for Kagoshima Prefecture has denied a citizen-led legal challenge to block the restart of the Sendai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan. The citizen groups say they will appeal the court ruling. The local residents remain concerned by experts' warning of another nuclear catastrophe triggered by any one of several large volcanoes active in the region.  The citizen lawsuit was prompted by the Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority approval of the Sendia restart in September 2014

The Kagoshima judge’s ruling sharply contrasts with two earlier court decisions in Fukui Prefecture that have successfully blocked the restart of four units at the Takahama and Ohi nuclear power stations.

Japanese volcanologists are warning that the enormous March 11, 2011 earthquake has intensified volcanic activity throughout Japan. In fact, Mount Ioyama, located 64 km away from Sendai had a series of tremors in 2014 that prompted its reclassification from dormant to the second highest threat level according to the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s volcano bureau. Another frequently active and large volcano, Mount Sakurajima, is located even closer to the Sendai nuke at 40 km. Were these two nearby volcanoes not enough of a concern, Sendai is situated amidst five giant calderas, expansive crater-like depressions that are evidence to past massive eruptions.

The local citizen movement has vowed to continue opposition to the restart and operation of the Sendai nuclear power plant.

Friday
Apr172015

Beyond Nuclear discusses Fukushima on RT International

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps was interviewed by RT International regarding current developments at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan. The interview includes footage of the large mounds of radioactive waste being transferred to Okuma and Futaba, the two "host" towns in Fukushima Prefecture across which the six reactor nuclear complex sprawls. Both towns are now "Dead Zone," indefinitely uninhabitable. All surviving former residents are now living as nuclear evacuees, unable to go home.

The interview also includes footage of the snake-like robots Tokyo Electric is sending into the Unit 1 reactor's damaged radiological containment structure. The first, deployed on April 10th, broke down after a few hours of service, for yet unexplained reasons. The radiation levels it measured would be lethal to humans within 30 minutes or less.

Wednesday
Apr152015

Judge rules against Japan nuke restart, cleanup of melted reactors non-existent 

A Fukui Prefecture court in Japan has ruled that the only real protection from a catastrophic nuclear accident is to keep the nation’s atomic reactors shut down.  Hideaki Higuchi, a local judge for Fukui, ordered that the Takahama nuclear power plant remain closed as there is not adequate proof that another disaster caused by an earthquake can be reliably averted if the atomic reactors are operating.  Judge Higuchi had previously ordered that the Ohi nuclear plant in Fukui also remain closed for the same reason. Judge Higuchi’s Takahama order overruled Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority’s decision to restart under revised regulatory standards.    In spite of the Abe government’s push to restart atomic power, Japan remains “Zero Nuclear” by popular demand and legal authority. 

The court order occurs as TEPCO officials admit that environmental cleanup of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster is centuries away.  Naohiro Masuda and Akira Ono , two top-level TEPCO senior managers charged with “decommissioning” the three melted Fukushima reactors say that a myriad of extremely complex and unproven technologies for removing, cleaning up and managing the melted reactor cores does not currently exist and “cannot say it is possible.” 

Dale Klein, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair and now TEPCO’s chief apologist for the bankrupt corporation’s reactor restart committee, also admitted that a cleanup technology is non-existent. He and TEPCO however continue to hold out hope that robotic technology can eventually be developed to cleanup the radioactive site which accumulates hundreds of tons of radioactive water each day.

Meanwhile, the latest in state-of-the-art robotic technology commissioned to locate one of melted cores had to be abandoned by TEPCO after it failed three hours on its journey into the wreckage.  The globally touted snake-like robot technology shut down before it could gather any information on the still missing and uncontained core material somewhere under Unit 1.

Thursday
Mar262015

"Aileen Mioko Smith: Anti-Nuclear Feminist"

Smith amidst the 2012 "Occupy METI" (Ministry for Economy, Trade, and Industry) anti-nuclear protests in Tokyo in 2012Heidi Hutner, Director of the Stony Brook University Sustainability Program, has honored Aileen Mioko Smith, Executive Director of Green Action in Kyodo, Japan as a "Wonder Woman Who Has Made History," in Ms. Blog's Women's History Month Series.

As the article describes, Smith has decades of anti-nuclear grassroots (and additional environmental and feminist) activism under her belt, including interviewing hundreds of survivors of the Three Mile Island meltdown, collecting four million signatures onto petitions against nuclear power in Japan in the late 1980s, fending off plutonium mixed oxide fuel use in Japanese reactors for decades, and helping lead the remarkably successful nationwide resistance to reactor restarts in Japan in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

Beyond Nuclear is privileged and honored to work closely with Smith, from hosting speaking tour exchanges in Japan and the U.S. (see various web posts in Sept. 2011), to featuring her TMI work (see article on page 4 of our TMI newsletter), to nominating her as a keynote speaker at the August 2011 Musicians United for Safe Energy (MUSE) concert, as well as for a 2014 Nuclear-Free Future Award.

In late 2013, Smith published "The Potential of Japan's Anti-Nuclear Citizens' Movement to End Nuclear Power and Implement Change in Japan's Energy Policy: What Needs to Be Undertaken to Meet this Challenge." For the fourth anniversary of the ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, Smith published a Power Point presentation entitled "Nuclear Phase Out in Japan."