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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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Friday
Jun292012

Deadly radiation doses in basement of Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has detected record levels of radioactivity in the basement at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1, Agence France Press reports. The article states:

"Radiation levels above radioactive water in the basement reached up to 10,300 millisievert an hour, a dose that will kill humans within a short time after making them sick within minutes.

The annual allowed dose for workers at the stricken site is reached in only 20 seconds."

10,300 MSv/hr, or 1,030 Rem/hr, means workers cannot approach such areas. Robots and remote control equipment must be used. The problem is, the technology doesn't yet exist. Robotic equipment sent into Unit 2 several months ago was quickly short-circuited by high radiation fields. Decommissioning is expected to take decades and cost tens of billions of dollars or more.

When robots failed in high radiation fields in Chernobyl in 1986, human "bio-robots" were sent in instead. Countless thousands of the 800,000 to 1.2 million "liquidators" -- mostly young male privates in the army -- thrown at Chernobyl have died early deaths in the quarter century since.

Friday
Jun292012

Sisters are doing it for themselves in Japan; take on "nuclear village"

6.29 "One Vote Rebellion! Women Will Change Politics, Livelihoods and Nuclear Power!"Women’s Appeal in Front of the Japanese Parliament

From our colleague, Kaori Izumi ([pictured) in Japan: "On June 7th, Fukushima women carried out a ‘Die-In’ in front of the Prime Minister’s Office, demanding an end to the plan to restart of Ohi nuclear power plant. Prime Minister Noda’s answer on June 8th to these women’s outcry was “We will restart Ohi in order to protect people’s livelihoods and its safety has been secured.” Noda is now trying to restart Ohi, ignoring a possibly active fault crossing right under the nuclear power plant. We, however, have never handed over our lives to you; Noda, your political life is over.                 

To the members of the Parliament, are you doing your best as representatives of Japanese citizens? Despite the fact that more than 70% of Japanese are against the restart of Ohi nuclear power plant, the Noda government is forcing its restart. We support you, the MPs who empathize with the people of Fukushima and who are making all their efforts to ensure the safety and the livelihoods of the people and children in Japan at the expense of your own political lives. In all of Japan’s areas we are going to ask each and every MP if they have agreed or disagreed to the restart of the Ohi.                

Women in Fukushima have since 3.11 appealed to the world: “Please do not repeat Fukushima! Do not let anybody suffer like we are doing!” The decision to restart Ohi is indeed blaspheme against the Japanese people. Women got outraged, stood up and got together. To women in Japan, please send your representative to the 6.29 Women’s Action. We appeal to women in the world to please continue your protest at the Japanese embassies until the day when the restart of Ohi is withdrawn.

Friday
Jun292012

More great reporting from Mark Willacy in Japan: radiation killing fishing industry

Mark Willacy reports from Fukushima for the Australian Broadcasting Company. An excerpt: "As Akira Kaya lowers his trawling nets he explains how he used to haul in magnificent catches of octopus, horse mackerel and flatfish. And today again a decent catch spills from his nets onto the deck. But none of these fish will ever make it to market. Here, just 20 kilometres out to sea from the shattered remains of the Fukushima nuclear plant, nothing can be sold to the public."

Wallacy concludes the segment: "A few days after our expedition off Fukushima the results of our haul came in - about a quarter of the catch has radiation levels exceeding the safe limit, with one fish 16 times over the limit, more bad news for Akira Kaya and his fellow Fukushima fisherman."

Friday
Jun292012

Seismologists warn against reactor restart in Japan

Reports Reuters: Two prominent seismologists said on Tuesday that Japan is ignoring the safety lessons of last year's Fukushima crisis and warned against restarting two reactors next month.

Japan has approved the restart of the two reactors at the Kansai Electric Power Ohi nuclear plant, northwest of Tokyo, despite mass public opposition.

They will be the first to come back on line after all reactors were shut following a massive earthquake and tsunami last March that caused the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl at Tokyo Electric Power's Daiichi Fukushima plant.

Seismic modeling by Japan's nuclear regulator did not properly take into account active fault lines near the Ohi plant, Katsuhiko Ishibashi, a seismologist at Kobe University, told reporters.

On June 22, 20,000 Japanese protested the approved restart of two reactors at Oi.

 

"The stress tests and new safety guidelines for restarting nuclear power plants both allow for accidents at plants to occur," Ishibashi told reporters. "Instead of making standards more strict, they both represent a severe setback in safety standards." Read more.

 

Friday
Jun292012

Waiting for the worst at Unit 4

Interviewed by Radio Australia, Institute for Policy Studies' Bob Alvarez addressed what could happen if another major earthquake rocked the coastal Fukishima area. "The drainage of water caused by an earthquake or the toppling of the pool, which would be the worst possible consequence, could result in essentially the cladding around the spent fuel, which is made of an alloy of zirconium, to heat up and catch fire. And then there would be a massive release of radioactivity, he said. "The spent fuel pool in number four at Fukushima contains roughly ten times more caesium 137 than released by the Chernobyl accident," he pointed out.

Mitsuhei Murata (pictured, above left), a former Japanese ambassador to Switzerland and a career diplomat who fears for the future of his nation, was also interviewed on the show. He also fears that inaction could spell further disaster. "I call it the sickness of Japan," he said. "Colloquially it can be explained that first, we hide; then we postpone; and then we assume no responsibility." When asked by show host, Mark Willacy, whether a problem with the fuel pool at Unit 4 could spell the end of Japan, Murata replied: "Yes. And there is no one who denies that." Read the full transcript or listen to the show.