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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
Jul152015

When an old atomic reactor license extension leads to a meltdown: Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1

As reported by WNISR published on July 15, 2015:

"As a result of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, more pressing questions have been raised about the wisdom of operating older reactors. The Fukushima Daiichi Units (1 to 4) were connected to the grid between 1971 and 1974. The license for unit 1 had been extended for another 10 years in February 2011, a month before the catastrophe began. Four days after the accidents in Japan, the German government ordered the shutdown of seven reactors that had started up before 1981. These reactors, together with another unit that was closed at the time, never restarted. The sole selection criterion was operational age. Other countries did not adopt the same approach, but it is clear that the 3/11 events had an impact on previously assumed extended lifetimes in other countries as well, including in Belgium, Switzerland, and Taiwan." (p.38-39)

Thus, had the operating license at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 not been extended, just weeks earlier, Unit 1 would not have been operating on 3/11/11. Especially if its irradiated nuclear fuel had then been removed from the reactor core, a meltdown could not have occurred (by definition) -- as was the case at Fukushima Daiichi Units 4, 5, and 6 (which were not operating, and had cores off-loaded of nuclear fuel).

(Granted, off-loading a reactor core of its irradiated fuel, into the storage pool, simply transfers the risk another location. This was the dire situation at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4, until the irradiated nuclear fuel was finally completely removed from the storage pool by Dec. 2014. Now, that irradiated nuclear fuel risk has been transferred to Fukushima Daiichi's ground level "common pool" -- not a risk-free location, but significantly less risky than the near-collapse Unit 4 reactor building, of which the storage pool is an integral part.)

It is also important to point out that some sources allege that the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 was well under way even before the tsunami hit the site, about 50 minutes after the 9.0 earthquake had struck. That is, certain sources (citing the testimony of on-site workers' eye-witness experience) allege that the earthquake itself had so badly damaged Unit 1, that it was already in process of melting down, even before the tsunami struck the site (that is, tsunami or no tsunami, Unit 1 was likely doomed to melt down, due to earthquake damage).

This begs the question, how vulerable to earthquakes, or other shocks, are the oldest reactors still operating in the U.S., and around the world?

Wednesday
Jul082015

Sign petition demanding TEPCO stop dumping radioactivity into the Pacific Ocean!

Our friends at Green Action Japan have asked us to urge our supporters to consider signing a Change.Org petition demanding that the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company cease and desist from discharging hazardous radioactivity from the destroyed Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean. For updates on the ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, and to learn more about the Japanese environmental movement's struggle to block atomic reactor restarts, be sure to visit Beyond Nuclear's Japan website section!

Tuesday
Jun232015

Beyond Nuclear on Thom Hartman's "The Big Picture" re: Fukushima revelations

Thom Hartmann, host of "The Big Picture"Thom Hartmann, host of "The Big Picture" (photo, left) interviewed Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps regarding a revelation that Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) knew, two and a half years before a 45-foot tall tsunami wrecked its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, that such a natural disaster was possible, and should be defended against. TEPCO shareholders have sued the company for $50 billion in damages, and the 2008 tsunami risk assessment document came to light in the legal discovery process.

Thom also asked Kevin about recent Freedom of Information Act disclosures showing that the highest ranking officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy were warned that radioactive Iodine-131 emissions from the triple meltdown in Japan could harm Americans downwind, and yet few to no emergency health monitoring measures were taken.

Friday
May082015

Fukushima's animal carer

The untold human suffering and property damage left in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan has been well-documented, but there’s another population that suffered greatly that few have discussed – the animals left behind in the radioactive exclusion zone. One man, however, hasn’t forgotten – 55-year-old Naoto Matsumura, a former construction worker who lives in the zone to care for its four-legged survivors.

He is known as the ‘guardian of Fukushima’s animals’ because of the work he does to feed the animals left behind by people in their rush to evacuate the government’s 12.5-mile exclusion zone. He is aware of the radiation he is subject to on a daily basis, but says that he “refuses to worry about it.” He does take steps, however, by only eating food imported into the zone. More.

Thursday
Apr232015

Drone with cesium lands on Japan PM Abe's office roof

A drone carrying a plastic bottle with trace amounts of cesium has landed on the roof of Japanese Prime Minister Abe's office, evidently sending a message about strong citizen opposition to a restart of that country's nuclear power plants. Japan remains at zero nuclear but a court this week gave approval to the restart of the Sendai reactors which will likely come on line this year. Abe (pictured) continues to tout not only a nuclear restart in Japan but the exporting of nuclear technology abroad. But a majority of Japanese citizens -- a figure that rose to 70% shortly after the Fukushima disaster -- still oppose a return to nuclear energy in that country.  More