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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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Wednesday
Jan142015

'No choice': "Town near crippled nuclear facility OKs plan to build storage facility for waste"

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, town leaders in Futaba -- one of two towns which host the radioactive ruins of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant -- have agreed to turn their town into an "intermediate storage site" for radioactive debris leftover from the triple disaster of 3/11/11: earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear catastrophe.

Futaba thus joins the other host town, Okuma, and Fukushima Prefecture, in blessing the deal.

As the article reports:

'"I decided we have no choice but to agree to hosting the facility. It was a difficult decision that was made purely for the sake of rebuilding and revitalizing Fukushima," Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa said Jan. 13 after a town assembly meeting.'

A former Fukushima Daiichi town leader, who served during the initial phase of the nuclear catastrophe, has become an outspoken anti-nuclear voice since. He now lives, alongside many of his neighbors, as a permanent evacuee in an abandoned school on the outskirts of Tokyo.

Large parts of Futaba and Okuma lie within the 12.4-mile radius radioactive exclusion zone around Fukushima Daiichi.

Tuesday
Jan132015

Japan to permanently close five more of its remaining 48 “operable” nukes

In the still growing wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, the Japanese nuclear industry has preliminarily announced they will permanently close five more atomic power plants. Now nearly four years after the multi-unit accident, Japan has maintained “zero nuclear” power generation. This most recent decommissioning announcement reduces the number of the country’s operable ---but still not operating---reactors down to 43.  All six units at Fukushima Daiichi have been permanently closed including Units 1 through 4 destroyed in the accident as well as the undamaged Unit 5 and Unit 6 (a GE Mark II). The Abe government is struggling to restart some number of the nation’s atomic reactors amidst broad anti-nuclear public and political opposition.

Two of the newly announced closures are Shimane Unit 1 and Tsuruga Unit 1, both GE Mark I boiling water reactors identical to  Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-5. The other three units, Genkai Unit 1 and Mihama 1 and 2 units, are aging pressurized water reactors. Company officials with Kyushu Electric, Kansai Electric, Chugoku Electric and Japan Atomic Power Company decided to decommission the units rather than comply with now required expensive safety upgrades. The formal decisions are expected to be made  in March 2015.

With the recent closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant here in the U.S., Beyond Nuclear continues to campaign for the prompt and permanent closure of the world’s remaining thirty operable GE Mark I and sixteen Mark II reactors.  Twenty-two GE Mark I and eight Mark II units are still operating in the United States.  The remainder of the Mark I units are in Taiwan (2), India (2), Switzerland (1), Spain (1) and Japan (2). An additional two Mark II units are operating in Mexico and six “operable” but shutdown units in Japan.

Tuesday
Jan132015

"Assembly members' family ties to contracts given at Sendai nuclear plant raise eyebrows"

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, two prefectural assembly members (Katsuzo Hokazono and Kaneoki Obata of the pro-nuclear power Liberal Democratic Party) who voted in favor of restart of the Sendai nuclear power plant in southern Japan have close personal, professional, and family ties to the atomic reactors in question. The two have served as paid consultants to the nuclear utility, and are themselves, or have close family members who are, in charge of construction firms that have received multi-million contracts from the nuclear utility. The Sendai nuclear power plant is the first to receive Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan, as well as prefectural, and local municipal authority approval to restart after post-Fukushima required safety upgrades.

The article reports:

'Hokazono has been a strong proponent of resuming operations at the Sendai plant, saying on one occasion during a Kagoshima prefectural assembly session, "We must push forward with resumption of operations for the sake of national interests."

...The two said their family relationships and the work contracts did not factor into their deliberations and decisions on safety issues concerning the Sendai plant.'

Monday
Jan122015

"Fukushima evacuees pledge to rebuild communities on Coming-of-Age Day"

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, 20-year-olds effectively exiled from their own communities due to radioactive contamination evacuation in the aftermath of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe nonetheless celebrated their traditional "Coming-of-Age-Day" milestone, albeit tens of miles from home. Despite what they've been through in the past nearly four years, with no end in sight, they nonetheless pledged to devote their young lives to rebuilding their ravaged communities.

Wednesday
Jan072015

"Niigata governor scolds TEPCO president, rejects reactor restarts"

As reported by the Asahi Shimbun, Niigata Prefecture Governor Hirohiko Izumida remains "adamantly opposed" to Tokyo Electric Power Company's (TEPCO) request to him for permission to restart two of seven reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is the single biggest nuclear power plant in the world. It is so big, it sprawls across two host towns, as captured in its name. Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, also owned, operated, and melted down by TEPCO, also sprawls across two towns -- Okuma and Futaba, now radioactive ghost towns.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant has been largely to entirely shut down ever since July 2007, when an earthquake caused extensive damage to plant facilities and radioactive waste storage, including a serious transformer fire, as well as radioactivity releases to the ocean.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe has kept Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant shut down since. TEPCO needs Gov. Izumida's permission to restart any reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa, but is not getting it.

The article quotes the Governor's strong words:

“There has not been a sufficient investigation into the causes of the (Fukushima) accident nor in-house disciplinary actions, so we cannot stand at the starting line of discussions on safety,” the governor said.

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