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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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Sunday
Jul082012

Debris removal underway at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4

Lucas Hixson has posted a recent photo (left) at Enformable Nuclear News showing the significant change of appearance going on at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4. Tokyo Electric Power Company is now removing large debris, such as destroyed walls, from the Unit 4 reactor building, nearly 16 months after a hydrogen explosion severely damaged it.

The yellow vessel is the visible portion of the primary radiological containment structure surrounding the reactor pressure vessel, which fortunately had been defueled and was not operational on March 11, 2011.

However, the high-level radioactive waste storage pool, located under the green-colored crane structure, is still of global concern. The pool holds 1,331 irradiated nuclear fuel assemblies. It remains vulnerable to a cooling water drain down, due to a large earthquake, setting the high-level radioactive waste on fire. A slow motion cooling water "boil down" could lead to the same catastrophic radioactivity release, if cooling systems are disrupted for a long enough period of time, even from simple mechanical breakdown, as have occurred repeatedly over the months.

Sunday
Jul082012

Japanese Diet Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission official report published

Kurokawa at a press conference after the release of the report. A medical doctor, Kurokawa is also an Academic Fellow at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, and is former President of the National Science Council of JapanThe Japanese Diet's (Parliament) Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, chaired by Kiyoshi Kurokawa (photo left), has released its official report. An 88 page English language executive summary is currently available. The full 641 page report's English translation is due out in the near future. The report is based on 900 hours of testimony collected from 1,167 witnesses.

Major findings include the fact that deep "collusion" between the Japanese government, so-called safety regulators, and the nuclear power industry inevitably led to the "profoundly man-made" Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe, as ordered safeguards against earthquakes were long delayed, and tsunami risks were entirely ignored. In addition, the Commission raises the distinct possibility that the 9.0 earthquake so damaged the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor that its meltdown was well under way before the tsunami struck about 50 minutes later. The report also describes the disastrous emergency response and fatally flawed evacuation efforts. 

Extensive media coverage about the release of this report took place on July 5th and 6th, much of it commenting on the report's implications for the growing Japanese public opposition to atomic reactor restarts due to ongoing seismic and tsunami risks. The media coverage has included: the Wall Street Journal; the Washington Post; the London Independent; the London Guardian, including on the role of Japan's culture in the catastrophe; 

Thursday
Jul052012

150,000+ to Noda: “Saikado hantai!” ("We oppose the restart of the reactors!") 

Photo credit: Satoru SembaThe Asahi Shimbun has reported that "Even [Prime Minister] Noda [was] startled by [the] size of [the] anti-nuclear protest outside his office" last Friday evening. What began as 300 people protesting weekly outside his Tokyo office last March had grown to 45,000 by June 22nd after he had approved the first atomic reactor restarts (at Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture) in Japan since the beginning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. But the Friday evening, June 29th rally was of unprecedented and historic size, with estimates ranging from 150,000 to 180,000 protestors. "Listen to the people's voices," one protestor was reported to have said. Prime Minister Noda was overheard saying to a police officer guarding him “It is such a huge sound.”

Simultaneously, protests took place across the country, including a rally of 2,200 at Kansai Electric Power Company headquarters in Osaka, and several hundred at the Ohi nuclear power plant itself. A blockade of the front entrance at Ohi nuclear power plant forced a government minister sent to witness the restart to enter the nuclear power plant by ferry boat, as vehicular traffic was blocked.

Thursday
Jul052012

Rising up against nuclear risks in Japan

Photo credit: Satoru SembaAn unprecedented and historic protest by as many as 180,000 people took place at the Japanese Prime Minister's residence last Friday (photo, left), while thousands protested at Kansai Electric Power Company HQ in Osaka, and many hundreds more rallied at the Ohi nuclear power plant itself, as the first atomic reactors have been restarted in Japan since the beginning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. 

The restarts at Units 3 & 4 have been approved despite lingering concern about seismic risks directly beneath the Ohi nuclear power plant itself, and despite the conclusions of an independent Japanese Parliament (Diet) investigation just released which confirm the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns likely began even before the tsunami struck on March 11, 2011, due to damage caused by the 9.0 earthquake alone.

While fears persist that another big earthquake at Fukushima Daiichi could drain the cooling water from the Unit 4 high-level radioactive waste storage pool (as the reactor building itself is "tilting," with two of its walls "bulging"), simple breakdowns of the cooling system have recently raised the specter of a catastrophic radioactive inferno due to a "boil down" of the cooling water supply.

Wednesday
Jul042012

Green Action confronts Economy, Trade, and Industry Minister Edano over earthquake risks at Ohi nuclear power plant

On July 1st, Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action Japan, sent the following report on her confrontation with Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) Yukio Edano, regarding seismic risks at Ohi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, the first to restart since the 3/11/11 beginning of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe:

"Government Committee to Deliberate Earthquake Fault (F-6) at Ohi Nuclear Power Plant

Green Action Executive Director Meets METI Minister Yukio Edano

On Friday, 29 June, NISA [the federal Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, a subdivision of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry, METI] announced that the earthquake fault under the Ohi Plant will be on the agenda of NISA's Earthquake-Tsunami Expert Advisory Group. This is a breakthrough since it is an admission that this issue must be formally examined. The meeting will take place on Wednesday 3 July (14:00~16:30). Citizens can have observer status at the meeting. Yuichi Sugiyama, interviewed earlier by Kyodo on this issue, is one of the committee members.

The advisory committee meeting comes a day and a half after Ohi Unit 3 is to be started. Citizens are demanding that an on-site investigation of the F-6 fault be undertaken before restart of Ohi Units 3 and 4. The investigation would only take a maximum of one week.

On 29 June, Green Action director met with METI Minister Yukio Edano when she accompanied Ben Hashimoto (Lower House), one of the five Diet members who took part in the multi-partisan Diet member delegation which inspected the Ohi nuclear power plant on 27 June with tectonic geomorphologist Mitsuhisa Watanabe, Toyo University.

Smith challenged METI minister Edano when he said that no new information has been released concerning the issue. She stated that crucial information on the F-6 fault had been suppressed by NISA and Kansai Electric [Power Company, KEPCO] when the back-check examination of Ohi earthquake faults was undertaken by government-appointed experts in 2010. After this back-check, NISA examined the crucial information (the Sketch of the Nortwest Wall) and issued its report stating that F-6 was not an active fault. It is unclear if any experts were involved in this determination made after the back-check.

Edano's reply to Smith was, 'I am not here to debate this issue with citizens.'

Earlier in the day Edano addressed the Ohi F-6 Fault issue during his regular press conference."

Edano was serving as the Chief Cabinet Secretary, of primary spokesman, for Prime Minister Kan when the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe broke out on 3/11/11. Amongst the most infamous statements made by Edano at the time was the claim that there was "no immediate health risk" to the public. The recently departed Dr. Rosalie Bertell warned about such deceptions in the title of her classic book, No Immediate Danger?

Seismologists have warned about earthquake risks at Ohi.