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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
Mar102016

Risks to US reactors remain five years after Fukushima nuclear tragedy

Beyond Nuclear, in a press release today, decried the absence of reasonable plans to prevent and protect against a nuclear disaster in the U.S., five years after the March 11, 2011 triple meltdowns began at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

More than 32 million Japanese have been exposed to Fukushima's radioactive fallout. Close to 160,000 people were forced to evacuate, many of whom are being urged to return — under threat of loss of compensation -— into areas the government claims to have “cleaned up”.  Costs have ballooned to at least $100 billion and will soar higher once economic losses, compensation and decommissioning costs are factored in. 

In the U.S., 30 GE Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors identical in design to those at Fukushima, are still in operation.  While the GE model is considered the most vulnerable to catastrophic failure, every operating U.S. reactor poses a risk.  Beyond Nuclear launched itsFreeze our Fukushimas campaign shortly after the Japan disaster to get the GE reactors shut down. 

“Not only is there no Plan B for what to do if and when a Fukushima-style disaster happens in the U.S., there is no Plan A to prevent one either,” said Cindy Folkers, Radiation and Health Specialist at Beyond Nuclear.  Public health is woefully under-protected she said. Read the full press release. 

Wednesday
Mar092016

Wonderful news from Green Action in Japan: two operating reactors shut down under court order!

Aileen Mioko Smith, Executive Director, Green Action KyodoAs explained in a YouTube video by Green Action Kyodo's Executive Director, Aileen Mioko Smith (photo, left), amidst a celebration parade, Japan's anti-nuclear movement has scored another unprecedented, miraculous victory: the court-ordered shutdown of two reactors, Units 3 and 4, at Takahama nuclear power plant. The court's ruling came on the very eve of the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

As the video states: Japanese citizens celebrate the shutting down of an operating nuclear power plant. Citizens living up to 70 kilometers away (approximately 45 miles) sued Kansai Electric, and won! We want to protect Kyoto's cultural heritage from radioactive contamination. We want to protect the largest lake in Japan, Lake Biwa, the water for 14 million people.

The New York Times' Jonathon Soble has reported on this story.

See more updates about Japan's nuclear situation.

Friday
Mar042016

New report shows ecological impacts of Fukushima will last centuries

A new Greenpeace report, written by Greenpeace Japan Senior Nuclear Campaigner, and Beyond Nuclear board member, Kendra Ulrich, examines the likely long-term ecological impacts of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and concludes they could last centuries.

"Radiation Reloaded: Ecological Impacts of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident 5 Years Later," drew on a large body of scientific research in Fukushima-impacted areas over the past five years to bring to light the current ecological situation as a result of the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.

The report is described as an attempt to document what is currently known about the radioactive contamination of the forests, rivers, floodplains and estuaries of Fukushima prefecture. Given the long half-lives of some of the radionuclides released into the environment of Fukushima prefecture and wider Japan, understanding their ecological impacts is essential. 

Read the full report. And read the press release.

Wednesday
Feb032016

Green Action, Japanese people, oppose latest nuclear restart

Green Action issued a press release on January 29, strongly opposing the restart of the Takahama Nuclear Power Plant Unit 3 located in the seismically active Wakasa Bay region of Japan. "Takahama Unit 3 is being allowed to restart by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) even though it does not meet NRA stardards for evaluating seismic motion, whereby the variations from the average recorded earthquake motions of past earthquakes must be taken into consideration," stated the press release.  "The plant is not safe from earthquakes.  "The NRA also approved the plant’s restart even though Kansai Electric, the owner operator, 

does not have plans for constructing a seismic isolation building which would act as a control 
center in the event of a serious accident involving an earthquake. Such a building existed at 
Fukushima Daiichi and is considered by Tepco to have been the lifeline for not worsening the 
accident. 

"Clearly, the lessons of the March 11, 2011’s Fukushima Daiichi accident have not been 
learned by the regulator and Kansai Electric."  Read the full press release.

Monday
Nov022015

Beyond Nuclear on Thom Hartmann's "The Big Picture": "Fukushima Can Now Kill You Within 45 Minutes"

Thom Hartmann, host of "The Big Picture," interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps regarding news that radiation dose rates of 940 Rem per hour have been detected in a room outside of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 2's containment structure.

As acknowledged by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC):

Lethal Dose

The dose of radiation expected to cause death to 50 percent of an exposed population within 30 days (LD 50/30). Typically, the LD 50/30 is in the range from 400 to 450 rem (4 to 5 sieverts) received over a very short period.

Thus, the 940 Rem (or 9.4 Sievert) radiation doses just documented at Fukushima Daiichi could deliver a lethal dose to person, lacking radiation shielding and at close range, in less than a half-hour.

It is for this reason that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) must send remote controlled robotic probes into such high radiation fields, in order to take measurements, photos, videos, etc. The probes have often broken down under such intense radiation levels -- their electronic circuitry gets "fried" by the gamma rays.

Thom and Kevin discuss what this means for the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi, as well as the ongoing release of 300 to 400 (metric) tonnes (around 80,000 to more than 100,000 U.S. gallons) per day of radioactively contaminated groundwater into the Pacific Ocean, which can then bio-concentrate up the food chain to impact human health.