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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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Saturday
Jul192014

"NRA blames tsunami for equipment failure at Fukushima plant"

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's fledgling Nuclear Regulatory Authority has concluded that the tsunami of 3/11/11, not the earthquake, caused the damage to safety and cooling systems that led to the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi.

As the article reports:

"Whether the isolation condensers were already damaged by the quake is an issue of significant implications, raising the question of the adequacy of anti-quake preparedness measures at the Fukushima plant and other nuclear facilities."

Whistleblowers working in Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 at the time of the earthquake reported water leaking on the fourth floor, before the tsunami struck. The Japanese Parliamentary investigation into the nuclear disaster questioned whether this leaking water was from the reactor cooling condensers, and was caused by the quake directly. The investigators also questioned the timing on the loss of essential power to run safety and cooling systems at Unit 1 -- whether it was lost before or after the tsunami struck.

Unit 1 was the first to meltdown and explode, within the first day. The malfunction of its condeners played a major role in that meltdown.

(Note, the Asahi Shimbun limits access to articles to a certain number per month; a subscription is needed for unlimited access).

 

 

Wednesday
Jul162014

Japan's tug of war for 'zero nuclear' intensifies

On July 16, 2014, Japanese antinuclear groups were quick to announce their opposition to the draft approval by the country’s fledgling Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for the restart of two reactors at the Sendai nuclear power station in Kagoshima Prefecture.  All of Japan’s 48 nuclear power reactors remain closed still pending final approval by both national and local government authorities. The majority of the Japanese public remain solidly opposed to restarting any of the nation’s inherently dangerous nukes in the geologically active country.  Among the contentions presented in the joint statement, the antinuclear groups point out that the NRA draft approval, 1) ignores its own Volcano Effects Assessment for Sendai which is located near the active Sakurajima volcano as well as five gigantic volcanic caldera depressions;  2) ignores the lessons learned from Fukushima’s on-going failure to contain uncontrolled releases of highly radioactive water as could also occur at Sendai following an accident, and; 3) diminishes emergency evacuation planning for the general population living near the reactors including special needs populations such as hospitals and nursing homes.

In May 2014, three judges with the Fukui District Court in Fukui Prefecture, Japan ruled in favor of 166 Japanese plaintiffs who had brought a suit to halt the restart of Kansai Electric Power Company’s Ohi nuclear power station Units 3 and 4 which are sited atop earthquake faults. Greenpeace and Green Action Japan recently provided an English translation of the court ruling. The decision blunted the Abe government and nuclear industry’s efforts to restart the first two of Japan’s remaining 48 reactor units shut down in the wake of the March 11, 2011 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe.

The Fukui court ruling places the personal rights and safety of the Japanese people above the nuclear industry's commercial claims and economic interests of Japan. The ruling tackled one of the Abe government and industry’s key arguments for nuclear restart stating, “it is the view of this Court that even if a large trade deficit occurred as a result of stopping the operation of this nuclear power plant, this should not be considered an outflow or loss of national wealth. This Court considers national wealth to be the rich land and the people's livelihoods that have taken root there, and that being unable to recover these is the true loss of national wealth."

Tuesday
Jul152014

"Underground lab tackles trouble-plagued nuclear waste issue"

The Japan Times has reprinted an AP article about a research facility located in a tunnel located 350 meters below a "sleepy" dairy town, Horonobe, population 2,500, on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

While there is no operating deep geologic repository (DGR) for high-level radioactive waste (HLRW) anywhere in the world, several countries claim to be closing in on opening dates: Finland, 2020; France, 2025; Sweden, 2029.

Ontario Power Generation has proposed a DGR for so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes at its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario. The entryway for the permanent dumpsite would be located on a peninusla jutting out into Lake Huron, within less than a mile from the shore of the drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American/First Nations -- the Great Lakes. The licesning proceeding for this Canadian DUD (the sarcastic name coined by Dave Martin of Greenpeace Canada, short for Deep Underground Dump) is nearly complete.

But the dumpsites are highly controversial. The Canadian DUD is being fiercely resisted, including by opponents on the other side of the Great Lakes, as in Michigan.

Many unanswered questions linger even regarding the "lead dump" in the world, targeted at Onkalo, Finland, in the shadow of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant. This is made clear by the artful documentary film Into Eternity, which interviews only dump proponents, not opponents. Even the proponents can't agree whether or not to warn future generations about the dump by marking it, some fearing markers will simply lure future generations to intrude into the site, as for recovering the precious metals or powerful materials (such as potentially weapons usable plutonium).

Nationwide grassroots organizing, as well as Nevada's fierce resistance, led by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) defeated the Yucca Mountain HLRW dumpsite proposal, pursued by the U.S. DOE, nuclear power industry, and its friends in Congress from 1987 to 2010, when the Obama administration cancelled it.

Thursday
Jul102014

"Fukushima farmer takes on Tepco over wife’s suicide"

The Japan Times has published a Reuters article about Mikio Watanabe's lawsuit against Tokyo Electric Power Company. He seeks to hold the company responsible for his wife Hamako's suicide in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. The Watanabe's became nuclear evacuees from their lifelong home, 50 km from the wrecked reactors. The court ruling could set a significant precedent, as suicide rates in Fukushima Prefecture have risen significantly since March 11, 2011.

Wednesday
Jul092014

"Will the typhoon cause another meltdown at Fukushima?"

Thom Hartmann hosted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps on his radio show to discuss the super typhoon currently hitting Japan, as well as the breakdown in Fukushima Daiichi Unit 5's high-level radioactive waste storage pool cooling system, and other updates from the nuclear catastrophe site.

This website has re-posted a video of Thom's interview with Kevin.

And Thom has written a blog on the issue.