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Feds Order Reinstatement of Nuclear Whistleblower via ABC News

The U.S. Department of Labor has ordered a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor to reinstate a worker who the department says was fired for voicing concerns about nuclear and environmental safety, officials announced Wednesday.

Richland-based Washington River Protection Solutions, a subsidiary of URS Corporation and Energy Solutions, was also ordered to pay $220,000 in back wages and other expenses.

The company denies the allegations that the worker was fired in retaliation.

But the labor department said the contractor violated federal whistleblower provisions. The worker first blew the whistle on nuclear and environmental safety and permit and record-keeping violations in 2009, according to the labor department. The worker was fired two years later and unsuccessfully re-applied for the job in 2012. The reason for the initial firing was “poor performance.”

“The people most able to identify hazards are often the workers who are threatened by them,” Galen Lemke, the labor department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration acting regional administrator, said in a statement. “Employees must never be punished for sounding an alarm when they see a problem that could injure, sicken or kill someone, or harm the environment.”

Washington River Protection Solutions said Wednesday that the employee was not fired for voicing safety concerns, but as part of 200 layoffs undertaken to “align employment levels with project work scope and federal funding.”

The company is reviewing the labor department’s order and has not decided whether it will appeal before an administrative law judge.

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Depart. of Energy helps Hanford contractors fight whistleblowers

Hanford whistleblower case goes before federal court in Seattle

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Experts clash on Fukushima radiation effects via AlJazeera

Some scientists say authorities in favour of nuclear energy tend to deny the negative results of researchers.

[...]

Negative data ignored? A broad scientific study by a United Nations committee, released earlier this year, was widely criticized by independent researchers for its generally benign findings and lack of reference to the negative data cited in a number of specific scientific studies published earlier. The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) report on the health impact of the Fukushima accident was signed by 80 scientists and published in April.

In respect to plants and animals, for instance, the UN report concluded, “Accumulated doses (of radiation over the first two months following the accident) were estimated to have fallen short of levels found to cause observable effects…” And for longer term effects, the report noted that while some individuals in species may have been harmed, the effects on plants and animals ” at the population level were considered unlikely to be observable.”

But such statements were made “with the complete absence of any supporting documentation”, said Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, one of many researchers troubled by such conclusions.

In response to the criticism, Carl-Magnus Larsson, Chair of UNSCEAR pointed out to Al Jazeera that the committee “used data that had been published in the open literature, and some data that had not been published at the time”, and then, “synthesized it for an overall assessment.” So UNSCEAR’s “mandate is for scientific review” of available scientific findings, not conducting its own field research, Larsson explained.

By contrast, Mousseau, as a member of a multidisciplinary group of scientists called the Chernobyl + Fukushima Research Initiative (CFRI), relies heavily on field studies for its reports. CFRI has extensively studied the consequences of radioactive contamination on animals at Chernobyl, the site of the devastating 1986 nuclear accident in Ukraine, and has conducted 10 similar studies in Fukushima since 2011.

Speaking to the foreign press in Tokyo on August 22, following CFRI’s latest findings, Mousseau noted that some half-dozen studies indicating the negative effects of Fukushima radiation had been released before the UNSCEAR report and many more related to Chernobyl effects, “which are quite similar in terms of the radiation and consequences”. Yet these reports “were clearly ignored” by UNSCEAR, which had to be out of “deliberate ignorance”, Mousseau said.

Other scientists agree with him. “Authorities in favour of nuclear energy tend to deny the negative results of researchers,” said Tetsuji Imanaka, an assistant professor of nuclear science at Kyoto University. “This happened after the Chernobyl accident when local scientists in Ukraine and Belarus reported the damaging effects of radiation.”

[...]

Mousseau emphasized that he is not an anti-nuclear activist, nor is he claiming that those in authority are attempting to minimize the danger of what is taking place in Fukushima. “Rather, what I am is an activist for evidence-based policy related to the environment,” he explained.

In this respect, he called for an international effort to fund and document the full range of biological consequences related to radiation in the Fukushima environment.

A key point here, he noted, especially as it relates to the contrary government reports, “is that this effort must be led by independent scientists who are committed to rigorous, unbiased analysis of the present situation with the goal of predicting long-term impacts”.

Read more at  Experts clash on Fukushima radiation effects

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Fukushima fail: Radioactive groundwater levels not falling via RT

Attempts to curb the accumulation of radioactive groundwater at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are not proving effective, as groundwater continues to enter radioactive buildings.

Officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which is in charge of the clean-up operation, said that there has been little change in the levels of contaminated water in the effected buildings since the launch of the so-called underground bypass operation in May, according to the Japanese state broadcaster NHK.

The officials said that on August 17 water levels in three wells were down by just 10 centimeters and 20-30 centimeters lower than when they first started taking measurements.

Engineers are trying to reduce the 400 tons of water flowing through the Fukushima buildings every day to 300 tons and to do this they need to lower the level of water in the wells by between several tens of centimeters and a meter.

Scientists believe that their failure to secure a drop in water levels is due to the slow movement of groundwater and the effect of rain on the contaminated water.

[...]

Equipment failure

In a separate setback for the crippled plant a 400 kilogram piece of machinery fell into a nuclear fuel pool at the crippled number 3 reactor.

The incident occurred on Friday when the operating console of a machine to handle spent nuclear fuel slipped loose and fell into a pool containing spent fuel rods.

The operation was being carried out remotely in an attempt to try and remove radioactive debris from the fuel pool, which contains 566 fuel rods, most of them spent.

[...]

Just hours after Friday’s incident a 5.0 magnitude earthquake hit off the Fukushima coast but there was chance of a tsunami and no reports of any damage caused.

Japan lies on a tectonic fault line and is prone to frequent earthquakes.

Read more at Fukushima fail: Radioactive groundwater levels not falling

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原発事故と自殺 via 佐賀新聞

(抜粋)

判決によると、女性は避難によって、農場での仕事や地域住民とのつながりなど生活の基盤を失った。さらに帰還の見通しが持てないこと、住宅ローン の支払いが残っていること、避難先のアパートの住環境の違いも相当なストレスになった。「極めて過酷な経験であり、耐え難い精神的苦痛負担を強いて女性を うつ状態にした」と断じた。事故と自殺の因果関係を認めたのは当然だ。

さらに、東電は「事故が起きれば、居住者が避難を余儀なくされ、さまざまなストレスを受けて自死に至る人が出ることも予見できた」と踏み込んだ。

東日本大震災と原発事故から間もなく3年半になる。福島県内の仮設住宅に暮らす人だけでも約2万6千人いる。不自由を余儀なくされている人はもっと多い。

内閣府の調査では、震災関連の自殺者は11年6月から先月までに福島県で56人に上る。宮城県の37人、岩手県の30人に比べて多く、しかも福島県は11年に10人、12年に13人、13年に23人と年々増えているのが実情だ。

原発事故は放射線物質の飛散などから、被災後なかなか元の生活に戻れない。自殺者数はそれを物語っていると思えてならない。

原発事故が原因で自殺し、東電に損害賠償した訴訟の判決は今回が初めてだった。原発事故の賠償は裁判以外にもあり、支払総額は4兆円を超えている。東電との直接交渉で合意しなかった場合には、原子力損害賠償紛争解決センターによる裁判外紛争解決手続き(ADR)もある。

これまで約1万3千件の申し立てのうち、約8千件で和解した。自殺の賠償で和解が成立したケースもある。費用や時間がかかり、公になる裁判を好まない遺族にはこうした対応も必要になる。

悲劇が繰り返されないように、東電や行政には避難者の心のケアを求め、将来に展望が開けるようにしてほしい。福島県では今も深刻 な避難生活が続いているが、全国では原発再稼働の動きが強まっている。事故直後の避難計画が一つの焦点だが、判決は「避難した後に何があるか」という重い 問いを投げかけた。(宮崎勝)

全文は原発事故と自殺

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元所長「イメージは東日本壊滅」 「吉田調書」の全容判明 via 河北新報

東京電力福島第1原発事故をめぐり、政府の事故調査・検証委員会が現場の指揮を執った吉田昌郎元所長=昨年7月死去=から当時の状況を聞いた「聴取結果書(吉田調書)」の全容が30日、判明した。

共同通信が入手した調書で吉田氏は、2号機の原子炉水位が低下し危機的状況となった事故発生4日目の2011年3月14日夜を思い起こし「われわれのイメージは東日本壊滅。本当に死んだと思った」と述べるなど、過酷な状況下の心情を吐露している。

続きは元所長「イメージは東日本壊滅」 「吉田調書」の全容判明

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Fukushima families sue prefecture, government for radiation exposure during meltdown crisis via The Japan Times

A group of parents and children who were residing in Fukushima Prefecture when the nuclear disaster unfolded in March 2011 is suing the central and prefectural governments for failing to take sufficient steps to protect children from radiation exposure during the crisis.

The 88 plaintiffs are demanding ¥100,000 each in compensation, according to the lawsuit filed Friday at the Fukushima District Court.

In a written complaint, they said the central and prefectural governments failed to promptly release accurate data on airborne radiation levels after the nuclear crisis, neglecting their duty to prevent residential radiation exposure as much as possible, and exposing children to radiation.

[...]

A 40-year-old mother in the group said at a news conference that she decided to sue because her child became ill after the nuclear crisis. “We’ve suffered in trying desperately to escape from something invisible for the past 3½ years,” she said, referring to the radioactive fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which is managed by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Of the 88 plaintiffs, 24 children who live in Fukushima and are still attending school there are demanding that local municipal offices affirm their right to receive education in a safe environment.

Read more at Fukushima families sue prefecture, government for radiation exposure during meltdown crisis

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福島、被ばく対策不十分と提訴 via ロイター

 原発事故の被ばく防止対策が不十分で精神的苦痛を受けたとして、事故時に福島県に住んでいた親子88人が29日、国や県に対し、1人当たり10万円の慰謝料を求め、福島地裁に提訴した。
[...]
原告のうち、今も福島県に住み小学校や中学校、特別支援学校に通う計24人は、居住地の自治体に対し安全な環境で教育を受ける権利があることの確認も求めた。

もっと読む。
◇ 「子ども脱被爆裁判」を福島地裁に提訴へ

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Profit Of China Nuclear Equipment Manufacturers Slides On Weak Demand via Forbes

Earnings of Chinese nuclear equipment manufacturers slid during the first half of the year, a sign that the government’s resolve to rely more on nuclear power has yet to rejuvenate the industry.

[...]
The weak results show that Beijing’s push to generate more nuclear energy has yet to put the equipment makers on a growth trajectory. They took a hit in the immediate aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, which caused China to halt approval for new nuclear plants.

Now the country’s often smog-choked skyline renews the urgency of increasing the share of nuclear power in its total energy supply. Speaking at a June meeting of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affair, President Xi Jinping said China would seek a more balanced energy supply system. “By adopting top international standards and ensuring safety, China should lose no time in constructing nuclear power projects in the eastern coastal regions,” he said.

[...]
China’s 17 operational nuclear power plants currently generate about 2% of the country’s total energy, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. The State Energy Administration aims to deploy an additional 8.6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity by the end of this year, China Daily reported. Ye Qizhen, a nuclear energy expert at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told Xinhua that 10% of China’s energy supply should come from nuclear power.

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After Fukushima, Vanderbilt researchers study radiation’s effects on robots via Vanderbilt School of Engineering

After the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant disaster, investigators used robots to determine the extent of the damage and begin cleaning up.

The question is how well robots can stand up to that sort of radiation and whether the humans using them can count on the data gathered.

[...]
The university’s Institute for Space and Defense Electronics team exposed infrared, sonar and laser range finders to gamma radiation. The infrared range finder became unreliable, the sonar range finder showed some variations and then failed, and the laser range finder didn’t change but failed suddenly at a low dose.

Robots at Fukushima were exposed to gamma radiation, which slowly degrades electronic parts, said Arthur Witulski, a research associate professor of electrical engineering with ISDE. He presented the paper at the GOMACTech Conference.
[...]Gabor Karsai, VU professor of electrical engineering and senior research scientist at the university’s Institute for Software-Integrated Systems, and his team are working on failure modeling language for robots exposed to radiation. Among other things, it allows robots to sense whether they’re able to complete the assigned tasks with the level of degradation they’re experiencing.

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Details of Fukushima Thyroid Cancer Cases Revealed at the Japan Society of Clinical Oncology Meeting via Fukushima Voice Version 2e

On the first day of the 52nd Annual Meeting of Japan Society of Clinical Oncology which is being held on August 28 – 30 in Yokohama City, Japan, Shinichi, Suzuki, a thyroid surgeon from Fukushima University in charge of the Fukushima thyroid ultrasound examination, presented some details of the surgical cases in a presentation titled “Treatment of childhood thyroid cancer in Fukushima” during the Organ Specific Symposium 03: Up-to-Date Thyroid Cancer Treatment – Thyroid Cancer in Children and Adolescents. Suzuki has consistently declined to reveal these details during sessions of the Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health (Management) Survey as well as the Fukushima Thyroid Examination Expert Subcommittee meetings.
[...]
From the news report, which is the only material available online containing information revealed by Suzuki, Fukushima Medical University operated on 54 of the 57 surgical cases, with 45 meeting the criteria for absolute surgical indications described at the August 24 Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Survey, excerpted below:

(2) Regarding indications for surgery

In Japan, when thyroid cancer is suspected, absolute indications for surgery include pre-surgical tumor with a diameter equal to or greater than 10 mm, lymph node metastases, extrathyroidal extension, and distant metastases. Furthermore, tumors with a diameter of 10 mm or smaller, so-called microcarcinomas, might be followed with observation in adults. However, surgery might be indicated for microcarcinomas if they are accompanied by lymph node metastasis, distant metastasis or extrathyroidal spread, or in close proximity to the recurrent laryngeal nerve or the trachea.

[...]
In regards to the timing and place of Suzuki’s report, although it would seem more appropriate for him to present the details at the Prefectural Oversight Committee Meeting for Fukushima Health Survey, the following fact must be addressed: The cases which advance beyond a certain point of the secondary examination, such as biopsy, are no longer part of the Fukushima thyroid ultrasound examination as screening but rather go under regular medical care. Therefore it appears legitimate that Suzuki presented them at an academic conference first.

However, it’s a different matter whether this was a moral act. Suzuki has been repeatedly asked by committee members and journalists to disclose more details about the surgical cases. There have been many speculations about whether there have been overdiagnosis and overtreatment, creating a lot of arguments and confusion. Suzuki maintained Fukushima Medical University was following the diagnostic criteria, yet he would not reveal details. He said at one of the committee meetings that Fukushima Medical University would be fulfilling its social responsibility towards Fukushima residents by submitting academic papers to inform the world of what is happening. Although the Fukushima Health Survey is intended to watch over the health of residents and stand by them, many Fukushima residents distrust Fukushima Medical University enough to refuse participation. Fukushima Medical University’s social responsibility should be, first and foremost, to maintain an honest and transparent relationship with residents. In that sense, Suzuki has effectively failed them.

By the way, those over age 18 no longer qualify for free medical care for Fukushima children. As 57 of the 104 confirmed or suspected of cancer were over age 18, more than half of them are facing a financial burden (Japan’s National Health Insurance requires 30% copay) in addition to a physical and psychological burden of having cancer, as the treatments and follow-ups are conducted as part of regular medical care.
[...]
Incidentally, President of the 52nd Annual Meeting of Japan Society of Clinical Oncology, Seiichi Takenoshita, is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Organ Regulatory Surgery, Fukushima Medical University. In other words, he is Suzuki’s boss.

Suzuki is scheduled to speak again during the August 30 Fukushima Session called “Message from Fukushima,” featuring Shunichi Yamashita as a keynote speaker. Yamashita will speak on “Scope for the future of Fukushima; resilience creation after the nuclear accident.” Suzuki’s presentation is called “Radiation exposure and thyroid ultrasound examination from the data of the Fukushima Health Management Survey.”

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