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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
Sep042013

Fukushima Daiichi "just one big shell game aimed at pushing off the problems until the future”

Kurokawa at a press conference after the release of the Diet report in July, 2012. 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 Japan.The New York Times has published an article, entitled "Errors Cast Doubt on Japan’s Cleanup of Nuclear Accident Site," that provides an update on the worsening situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site, as well as failures involving the purported "clean-up" of surrounding regions. The article includes this quote:

“Japan is clearly living in denial,” said Kiyoshi Kurokawa, a medical doctor who led Parliament’s independent investigation last year into the causes of the nuclear accident. “Water keeps building up inside the plant, and debris keeps piling up outside of it. This is all just one big shell game aimed at pushing off the problems until the future.” (emphasis added)

Kurokawa (pictured, above left) released the Diet's investigative report about the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in July 2012.

Tuesday
Sep032013

Japanese national government devotes mere $500 million to radioactive "soggy mess" at Fukushima Daiichi

NRC Chairwoman Macfarlane and NRA Chairman Tanaka, Japan, Dec. 2012.As reported by the Washington Post, Japanese Prime Minister Shizo Abe has pledged a mere $500 million towards stabilizing the leakage of highly radioactive water into the ground and ocean at the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant site.

Critics regard such a small amount as "chicken feed" or "chump change."

As pointed out by Fairewinds Associates, Inc.'s Chief Engineer, Arnie Gundersen, "clean-up" and decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi site itself will likely cost around $100 billion, while "clean-up" of contaminated regions of Fukushima Prefecture and adjacent prefectures could easily cost an additional $400 billion. So, Abe's pledge of half a billion dollars is very small, compared to that half a trillion dollar price tag!

As the article reports:

'...Last month, Tepco admitted that one storage drum had sprung a leak. Spiking radiation levels around the tanks have raised fears that others could be leaking as well. But it is hard to tell: Water levels in the tanks have not been measured on a regular basis, said Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, at a news conference Monday.

“We believe that management of and monitoring of tanks represents a serious problem,” Tanaka said, adding that regulators have given Tepco “strict instructions” to strengthen its oversight...'.

Tanaka (pictured, above left with U.S. NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane exchanging documents after a signing ceremony with her counterpart at the newly established Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority in Japan in December, 2012; the documents established, among other activities, a joint steering committee between the two regulatory agencies) recently compared the situation at Fukushima Daiichi to a "house of horrors."

Tuesday
Sep032013

Radiation levels at Fukushima 18 times higher than previously admitted to

From The Guardian, September 1st: "Radiation levels 18 times higher than previously reported have been found near a water storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing fresh concern about the safety of the wrecked facility.

The plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said radiation near the bottom of the tank measured 1,800 millisieverts an hour – high enough to kill an exposed person in four hours."

The stricken reactors have been leaking radioactively contaminated water into the ocean since the disaster first began on March 11, 2011, with unknown consequences to sea life and the surrounding ecosystems.

TEPCO has finally admitted that  a toxic mixture of groundwater and water being used to cool melted fuel lying deep inside the damaged reactors was seeping into the sea at a rate of about 300 tonnes a day. There is little confidence left in the utility's ability to manage the current crisis let alone the future prolonged decommissioning process.

The Guardian reported that: "The high radiation levels announced on Sunday highlighted the dangers facing thousands of workers as they attempt to contain, treat and store water safely, while preventing fuel assemblies damaged in the accident from going back into meltdown.

"Japan's nuclear workers are allowed an annual accumulative radiation exposure of 50 millisieverts. Tepco said radiation of 230 millisieverts an hour had been measured at another tank, up from 70 millisieverts last month. A third storage tank was emitting 70 millisieverts an hour, Tepco said. Radiation near a pipe connecting two other tanks had been measured at 230 millisieverts."

Pictured: A TEPCO employee works around the water tanks. . Photograph: Noboru Hashimoto/EPA.

Friday
Aug302013

"Why Fukushima is worse than you think"

In a blog special to CNN, Paris-based independent international consultant on energy and nuclear policy, Mycle Schneider, calls for an International Task Force Fukushima to provide the Japanese government and nuclear safety regulatory agency with keenly needed help at the wrecked, leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Schneider calls on the international community to "muster the will to put their own interests aside, and help Japan conquer the denial that is risking catastrophe." He is the coordinator and lead author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report.

Thursday
Aug292013

"The buck stops at the prime minister's desk" re: the worsening Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis

In an op-ed published in the Japan Times, Andrew DeWit, a professor in the School of Policy Studies, Rikkyo University, and Dr. Christopher Hobson, a research fellow at the Institute for Sustainability and Peace, United Nations University, Tokyo, argue that "the buck stops at the prime minister’s desk" in regards to the worsening crisis at Fukushima Daiichi. They urge Japanese Prime Minister Abe to take control over the decommissioning, to try to deal with the 300 tons per day of radioactively contaminated water flowing into the ocean, as well as the impending, high-risk removal of hundreds of tons of irradiated nuclear fuel from the precarious Unit 4 storage pool.

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