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.



"They're basically getting ready to run a big experiment"

The Christian Science Monitor has quoted Ed Lyman of Union of Concerned Scientists as saying, in regards to Tokyo Electric Power Company's efforts to bring the 55% to 70% meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor core to "cold shutdown," that "They're just stuck with doing whatever is going to work. The problem is, they're learning by experimentation – not by some well-thought through contingency plan." One fear is that the massive weight of cooling water being pumped into the Unit 1 reactor building could strain the damaged structures to the breaking point, especially if a large aftershock hits. More bad news: radioactive air in the Unit 1 reactor building is to be discharged to the external environment, to make the area safer for workers to enter; and the seabead around Fukushima Daiichi is still registering 100 to 1,000 times "normal" background radioactivity levels, evidence of an ongoing leak into the ocean.


Tepco workers enter Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 reactor building for first time since hydgrogen explosion

Reuters reports that Tokyo Electric Power Company has sent a small team of workers into the reactor unit 1 building at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for the first time since a massive hydgrogen gas explosion destroyed the secondary containment in early to mid March. As reported, dose rates within the Unit 1 reactor building are still quite high, around 1 to 10 rem per hour.


Speaking tour of Japan challenges MOX fuel use and financing for new U.S. reactors

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps toured Japan from August 2nd to 12th, visiting Tokyo, Fukushima, Fukui, Kansai and Kyushu. Highlights included meeting with officials from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the Nippon Export and Investment Insurance agency, where a letter signed by 75 U.S. national and grassroots groups was delivered, urging no Japanese financing for risky new reactors in the U.S. A backgrounder spelled out these risks in detail. Most proposed new U.S. atomic reactors have designs owned by Japanese companies -- either Toshiba (Westinghouse), Hitachi (General Electric), or Mitsubishi. At South Texas Project, Toshiba and Tokyo Electric Power Company are even partners in the venture. In addition, Japan Steel Works would be the primary supplier of large nuclear components, such as reactor pressure vessels and steam generators. The Japanese news media were alerted to the letter and meeting.

Local anti-nuclear groups also asked Kevin to address the risks of long-term storage of Mixed (plutonium-uranium) Oxide (MOX) irradiated nuclear fuel in pools, given the leaks of radioactive water that have occurred at five U.S. nuclear facilities, including Indian Point, Salem, Connecticut Yankee, Brookhaven National Lab, and Babcock & Wilcox, Virginia. Several reactors in Japan are recklessly moving to load MOX fuel, even though there is no final disposition plan for the irradiated fuel that would be generated. There is a vague promise to someday build a special reprocessing facility in Japan, but that is unlikely, and would actually only make matters even worse! This means the radioactive wastes will remain in storage pools on-site for decades. Kevin also presented a power point about the many risks of storing irradiated nuclear fuel in pools.

One last highlight -- Paul Gunter's Leak First, Fix Later report was translated into Japanese!


A litany of nuclear accidents contradicts Obama's claims

President Obama was clearly woefully misinformed when he stated recently that Japan has employed “nuclear energy in a safe and effective way.” Japan has a history of tragic and fatal accidents at its nuclear power facilities. In 1995, the Monju fast breeder reactor suffered a serious fire and sodium leak and was closed. In 1997, a waste-storage reprocessing plant at the Tokai facility burned and exploded. In 1999, there was a criticality accident at the Tokaimura uranium enrichment facility that killed two workers and exposed many hundreds of local residents to radioactivity. In 2007, an earthquake resulted in the release of radioactivity into the ocean from the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant, the world’s largest with seven reactors. Five of the seven reactors are still closed.

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