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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
Nov192012

Fukushima trout log radioactivity level over 100 times gov't limit

A mountain trout caught in a Fukushima Prefecture river returned a radioactive cesium reading of 11,400 becquerels per kilogram, more than 100 times the government-set limit for food items, a survey by the Environment Ministry said Friday. Kyodo News

Wednesday
Nov142012

Radioactivity is persisting in the ocean waters close to Japan's ruined nuclear power plant at Fukushima Daiichi

Radioactivity is persisting in the ocean waters close to Japan's ruined nuclear power plant at Fukushima Daiichi. New data presented at a conference held on 12–13 November at the University of Tokyo show that levels of radioactivity in the sea around the plant remain stable, rather than falling as expected. Researchers believe that run-off from rivers, as well as continued leaks from the plant, may be partially to blame. But contaminated sediment and marine organisms also seem to be involved...

...The Fukushima disaster caused by far the largest discharge of radioactivity into the ocean ever seen. A new model presented by scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts estimates that 16.2 petabecquerels (1015 becquerels) of radioactive caesium leaked from the plant — roughly the same amount that went into the atmosphere. Nature

Monday
Nov122012

Tepco neglected safety upgrades at Fukushima Daiichi to avoid controversy

The New York Times has reported that the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has admitted it neglected to make needed safety upgrades at its now-destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in order to avoid anti-nuclear protests, lawsuits, and calls for shutting down the reactors.

The article reports:

In the report, Tepco said that before the accident it had been afraid to consider the risk of such a large tsunami, fearing admissions of risk could result in public pressure to shut plants down.

“There were concerns that if new countermeasures against severe accidents were installed, concern would spread in host communities that the current plants had safety problems,” the report said.

The article also reports that Tepco's own engineers had warned about tsunami risks even worse than those that hit Fukushima Daiichi on March 11, 2011.

CNN also reported on this story.

Monday
Nov122012

Nuclear Regulation Authority director says no more reactor restarts till 2013

As reported by The Japan Daily Press, Shunichi Tanaka, the chair of Japan’s newly formed Nuclear Regulation Authority, has said that no further atomic reactor restarts will be allowed in Japan until mandatory safety and security regulations are finalized in mid 2013. Tanaka is also ordering seismic studies at Oi, where two atomic reactors were allowed to restart in June 2012 after a hasty rubberstamped approval by NISA (Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency) shortly before the discredited agency was dissolved.

Monday
Nov122012

SOUTEIGAI: BEYOND IMAGINATION

Image: A poster celebrating the nuclear power plant workers who knowingly exposed themselves to radiation to try to bring the catastrophe under control (Jonathan Aubry; Flickr.com/ CC BY-NC 2.0)'Souteigai' or 'beyond imagination', said the Japanese government spokesman when the tsunami waves rolled across a 300-kilometre-long strip of coastline. 'Souteigai' was also the word used in self-justification by nuclear plant owner TEPCO in reference to the meltdown at Fukushima. And 'Souteigai' was the thought on people's minds as they were forced to watch the black water rolling over houses and people and flattening everything – and on the minds of the 80,000 evacuees who lost their homes because of Fukushima.

The English language version of this radio documentary is posted at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.