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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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Monday
Nov122012

U.S. needs Japan to stay nuclear, CSIS President Hamre urges

As reported by The Japan Times, John Hamre, the president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington D.C. based think tank, has urged that Japan remain committed to nuclear power, despite the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe and the groundswell of anti-nuclear activism it has inspired. Oddly, Hamre argued that Japan should remain devoted to nuclear power, in order to stem the tide of nuclear weapons proliferation worldwide.

The article reports:

Hamre also said the policy poses a security concern from the viewpoint of international control for nonproliferation of nuclear materials.

"Nuclear power from the very beginning was (not only) a source of promise, but (also) a source of great threat because nuclear power electric generation is also the base for making nuclear weapons, and it's a great risk to the world to have commercial nuclear power plants because there is a possibility of diverting the material and turning it into weapons.

"So for the last 40 years the U.S. and Japan, along with Europe, have been leaders in creating an international system to monitor and control the use of commercial nuclear energy so that we know if people were illegitimately going to divert it and turn it into weapons," he said.

If Japan is to give up nuclear energy — and if nuclear power is to wither in the U.S. due to competition with cheap natural gas and in Europe as in the case of Germany — "the countries that have given us the security system are going to diminish, and who's going to replace them?" he said. "Americans cannot afford from a security standpoint to have Japan abandon nuclear power. It's too important to us."

Of course, the United States is the only country to have actually ever used atomic weapons in warfare -- against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan.

Hamre's arguments that renewable energy cannot replace nuclear power have been disproved, as by Arjun Makhijani's Carbon-Free/Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy Policy.

Monday
Nov122012

Japan nuclear plant on fault line may be next Fukushima, says geologist 

Oi nuclear power plant, with the Sea of Japan in the backgroundAgence France-Presse has reported that Mitsuhisa Watanabe, a tectonic geomorphologist at Tokyo’s Toyo University who is serving on a scientific advisory panel looking at the seismic risks at Oi nuclear power plant in Japan, has warned against continued operations at the two atomic reactors.

When asked if Kansai Electric Power Company should be allowed to continue operating the reactors on top of what he deems an active earthquake fault, Watanabe answered:

“It would be a very silly option.”

“We would have learned nothing from Fukushima. I’m afraid we would see a repeat (of the disaster) one day.”

The two reactors at Oi, in Fukui Prefecture on the shore of the Sea of Japan on the western edge of Honshu, were allowed to restart last June by Japanese Prime Minister Noda, despite regular protests by tens and even hundreds of thousands of protestors at his residence, which continue to the present day. They are the only two reactors in Japan to have been restarted since the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe on March 11, 2011. The catastrophe destroyed four reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Although 50 reactors remain operable in Japan, 48 have remained shutdown due to grassroots pressure.

Monday
Nov052012

UN directs Japan to protect residents from radiation after Fukushima, awaits response

Japan Times is reporting that a UN human rights council panel has endorsed 170 recommnedations for Japan to improve its human rights record, including:

"...the safeguarding of Japanese citizens' right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout spewed over a vast area by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant."

Japan is asked to respond no later than March, 2013.

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) report concludes:

The recommendations formulated during the interactive dialogue/listed below
will be examined by Japan which will provide responses in due time, but no later than
the 22nd session of the Human Rights Council in March 2013. The responses of Japan
will be included in the outcome report to be adopted by the Human Rights Council at
its 22nd session in March 2013:

147.155. Take all necessary measures to protect the right to health and life of
residents living in the area of Fukushima from radioactive hazards and ensure
that the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health can meet with affected and
evacuated people and civil society groups (Austria);

Monday
Oct292012

"A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High: Ending the Nuclear Age," Chicago, December 1-3

A number of experts have confirmed they will speak, including (alphabetical by last name): Kinnette Benedict, Executive Director & Publisher, Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsRobert Chavez, indigenous youth anti-uranium activist, Okayowingeh (San Juan Pueblo), New Mexico; Diane D'Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project Director, Nuclear Information and Resource ServiceKay Drey, Beyond Nuclear board member, and nearly four decade long anti-nuclear activist; Norma M. Field, Ph.D., Robert S. Ingersoll Distinguished Service Professor in Japanese Studies in East Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago; Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer, Fairewinds AssociatesPaul Gunter, Reactor Oversight Project Director, Beyond NuclearKristen Iversen, author, Full Body Burden: Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky FlatsArne Jungjohann, Director for the Environment and Global Dialogue Program of the Washington, D.C. office, Heinrich Boell FoundationKevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Beyond Nuclear; and Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, and author, Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: A Roadmap for U.S. Energy PolicyDr. Jeff Patterson, Board of Directors, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Madison, Wisconsin; Kathleen Rude, conducting Active Hope (a workshop to deal with Nuclear Despair, based on the works of Joanna Macy); Kendra UlrichFriends of the Earth USA, Washington, DC; Charmaine White Face, Coordinator, Defenders of the Black Hills, Rapid City, South Dakota; and  Akiko YoshidaFriends of the Earth, Tokyo, Japan

In addition, a film has been confirmed to be screened: The Atomic States of Americaby Sheena Joyce and Don Argot of 9.14 Pictures in Philadelphia.

Finally, on Monday, December 3rd, an optional field trip to Red Gate Woods is being organized. This is the forest preserve in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago where Fermi's first radioactive wastes of the Atomic Age were buried under a mound of earth, and marked with a simple stone marker. Bicycle and hiking paths pass close by. Previous tours to the site have not registered higher than normal background radioactivity levels, although concerns persist about eventual leakage of radioactivity from the site into the environment. We will be sure to take radiation monitors on our Dec. 3rd field trip, in order to document radioactivity levels, as well as to protect ourselves.

Friday
Oct262012

"The Rust-Bucket Reactors Start to Fall"

Harvey WassermanHarvey Wasserman, editor of Nukefree.org and author of Solartopia, has written a blog inspired by the announced closure of the Kewaunee atomic reactor in Wisconsin. He begins by stating 'The US fleet of 104 deteriorating atomic reactors is starting to fall. The much-hyped "nuclear renaissance" is now definitively headed in reverse.'

He points out that Kewaunee may be but the first domino to fall, describing the impact of "low gas prices, declining performance, unsolved technical problems and escalating public resistance" at numerous other old, age-degraded, troubled reactors across the U.S., including San Onofre, CA; Crystal River, FL; Cooper and Fort Calhoun in NE; Vermont Yankee; Indian Point, NY; Oyster Creek, NJ; and Davis-Besse, OH. But Harvey also points out the momentum applies to new reactors as well, such as at Vogtle, GA and Summer, SC, as well as overseas, in the wake of Fukushima, not only in Japan, but also India, and even Europe, led by Germany's nuclear power phase out.

About Japan, Harvey writes "A fuel pool laden with radioactive rods still hangs precariously in the air at Fukushima, casting an even harsher light on the two dozen GE reactors of similar design still operating here [in the U.S.]. All but two of Japan's reactors remain shut while an angry debate rages over whether any of the rest will ever reopen."

Harvey, a senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), will address "From Fukushima to Fermi-3: Getting to Solartopia Before It's Too Late" in Dearborn, MI on Dec. 7th at the official launch event for the new organization, the Alliance to Halt Fermi-3.