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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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Tuesday
Mar112014

Chomsky: From Hiroshima to Fukushima, Vietnam to Fallujah, State Power Ignores Its Massive Harm

Noam ChomskyAs reported by Democracy Now! on the Pacifica Radio Network:

World-renowned political dissident, linguist, author and MIT Professor Noam Chomsky traveled to Japan last week ahead of the three-year anniversary of the Fukushima crisis. Chomsky, now 85 years old, met with Fukushima survivors, including families who evacuated the area after the meltdown. "[It’s] particularly horrifying that this is happening in Japan with its unique, horrendous experiences with the impact of nuclear explosions, which we don’t have to discuss," Chomsky says. "And it’s particularly horrifying when happening to children — but unfortunately, this is what happens all the time."

Chomsky also addresses the radioactive contamination of Iraq due to the U.S. military's use of depleted uranium weapons, as well as the lingering health impacts from the Vietnam War due to the U.S. military's use of chemical poisons there.

Monday
Mar102014

Scientists: Test West Coast for Fukushima radiation

As reported by USA Today, calls are growing for the U.S. federal government to test the Pacific Ocean for Fukushima fallout. Varying models predict Fukushima radioactive contamination plumes in the sea will arrive at the West Coast of North America this summer at the latest, or as early as next month.

A report presented last week at a conference of the American Geophysical Union's Ocean Sciences Section showed that some Cesium-134 has already has arrived in Canada, in the Gulf of Alaska area.

Ken Buesseler, a chemical oceanographer based at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, reports that Cesium-134 serves as a fingerprint for Fukushima.

"The models show it will reach north of Seattle first, then move down the coast," Buesseler said.

Although Buesseler is calling for more federal involvement, he's also taking matters into his own hands. He's launched "How Radioactive Is Our Ocean?" The project will use crowd-sourced money and volunteers to collect water samples along the Pacific Coast, to be shipped across the country to be analyzed.

Similarly, Cal State Long Beach marine biologist Steven Manley has launched "Kelp Watch 2014," which will partner with other organizations to monitor kelp all along the West Coast for Fukushima radiation.

Oregon state park rangers take quarterly ocean water samples to test for radioactivity, according to the article. Their program began in April 2012, tied to monitoring for Japanese tsunami debris washing up on shore.

California also monitors ocean radioactivity near the sole remaining operating nuclear power plant in the state, Diablo Canyon.

Monday
Mar102014

Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan, and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) have published a book in time for the third anniversary of the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. The book details the blow by blow unfolding of the disaster at Japan, and serves as a searing indictment of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's dereliction of its safety duty domestically, risking an American Fukushima.

See UCS's web post about the book's publication here. See UCS's press release here. See UCS's blog post here.

Lochbaum is the head of the UCS's Nuclear Safety Project, and also author of Nuclear Waste Disposal Crisis. Lyman is a senior scientist in the Global Security Program of UCS. Stranahan was the lead reporter of the Philadelphia Inquirer's Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage of the Three Mile Island accident and the author of Susquehanna: River of Dreams.

Monday
Mar102014

Markey Statement on Three-Year Anniversary of Fukushima Meltdowns

U.S. Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE

Contact: Giselle Barry (Markey) 202-224-2742

In 2011 in the House of Reps., lawmaker introduced nuclear safety legislation to ensure U.S. nuclear power plants could withstand earthquakes, tsunamis, long power outages, or other major events

Washington (March 10, 2014) – Senator Edward J. Markey, Congress’s leading voice on nuclear safety, released the following statement today decrying the lack of progress on key improvement to America’s nuclear fleet in the wake of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear reactors in Japan. 

“America’s nuclear reactors are no more protected than they were three years ago when Japan experienced the worst nuclear disaster in history,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Environment and Public Works Committee.  “Since the catastrophic meltdowns at Fukushima, reactors in the United States have yet to be required to implement a single new safety measure. While the NRC’s technical expert report called for swift mandatory adoption of all of its recommendations, the Commission voted to extend implementation deadlines, add cost-benefit analysis barriers to moving forward and delay consideration of some of the recommendations altogether. Three years later, it is past time to immediately act to implement all of the NRC technical staffs’ recommendations and ensure Americans, especially those living near nuclear reactors, are safe.”

Since the tragic events in Japan, Senator Markey has written to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and President Obama for more information on the implications for America’s domestic nuclear industry. He has repeatedly urged the NRC to consider specific domestic policies to ensure increased nuclear safety and introduced legislation to require their implementation.  He also queried the Food and Drug Administration on how the agency is ensuring that contaminated radioactive food or other agricultural products are prevented from entering the domestic food supply.

Monday
Mar102014

U.S. Nuclear Agency Hid Concerns, Hailed Safety Record as Fukushima Melted

As reported by NBC News's Bill Dedman, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) Office of Public Affairs defended its own image, as well as that of the nuclear power industry, as its top priority during the first days of the fast-breaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe three years ago. As revealed by internal NRC emails obtained via the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), NRC went so far as to attack Dedman's own reporting at the time, when he used a little known NRC report published in 2010 to rank the seismic risk at atomic reactors across the U.S. The confusion created by NRC's attack on Dedman's reporting dissuaded other news outlets, including the New York Times, from mentioning NRC's ranking of seismic risks -- of which Entergy Nuclear's twin reactor Indian Point nuclear power plant on the Hudson River near New York City had the worst ranking in the U.S. 21 million people live or work within 50 miles of Indian Point. In 2008, seismologists at Columbia University warned about previously unknown earthquake fault lines near Indian Point.