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SA’s fixation on nuclear energy based on ‘patronage’ via Mail & Guardian

South Africa’s unwillingness to move from nuclear and coal power will lead to catastrophic climate change for the profit of a few, writes Sipho Kings.

In his State of the Nation address this year, President Jacob Zuma said the energy department had committed to building more nuclear power stations,  generating around 9 600 megawatts of nuclear energy a year. He also said a new coal power station would be built, in addition to the two mega-stations underway at Medupi and Kusile. Unfortunately, renewable technology only got a perfunctory nod.

This decision goes against South Africa’s international climate change commitments, its own energy plans and ignores the global shift towards renewable energy. Professor William Gumede, of Democracy Works, said the move was being pursued due to a political agenda. “Projects are being implemented, essentially from a purely patronage point of view,” he argued.

Focusing on nuclear energy also comes with the perceived bonus of tying South Africa closer to Brics nations – Brazil, Russia, India and China – all of whom are nuclear-inclined states wanting to sell technology to the country, he said.

[...]

No future need for nuclear or coal
Last year, an update on what the country’s energy plan should be – the Integrated Resource Plan 2010 – was released. It scaled-down hugely on the country’s future energy needs based on sluggish economic growth. It said nuclear was not needed and a decision could be made in the future if the economy grew faster than expected. It suggested, instead, that there be a focus on hydo-electric power from neighbouring countries, gas and renewable technology. It made special reference to the need for an emphasis on concentrated solar power – the only renewable energy source that can store energy and create base load power.

Winkler said this had not been adopted by Cabinet and it was not clear whether it would be. Zuma’s commitment to build 9 600 megawatts of nuclear power was, therefore, based on old information and outdated energy plans.

David Hallowes of groundWork said the continued emphasis on coal and nuclear in the face of climate change was disastrous. In 2009, South Africa voluntarily pledged to lower its carbon emissions by 42% by 2025. This was part of global efforts to reduce emissions and  ensure that average temperatures did not increase by more than two degrees this century.

[...]

“There is a sense of powerlessness because government has made whatever choices it wanted. But they have a say,” Mughogho said. Eskom is owned by the state and the government employee’s pension fund has a large shareholding in Sasol. People therefore owned them and could demand a change in their business models, she claimed.

The same went for the country’s energy future. “People needed to lobby and put pressure on the government to make sustainable choices,” she said. “We have the power to shift things, depending on the choices we make today.”

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Scientist weighs homecoming risks in Fukushima via The Japan Times

When scientist Junko Nakanishi stepped into radiation-contaminated towns and villages in Fukushima Prefecture 10 months after the nuclear power plant meltdowns of 2011, she realized how difficult the job of decontamination would be.

Surveying the thinly populated areas surrounded by hills and rice paddies, she wondered how much time and money it would take to reduce the radiation.

“I thought decontamination wouldn’t succeed without a concrete plan,” Nakanishi, 76, a leading expert on chemical risk assessment, said in a recent interview with The Japan Times.
[...]
An annual dose of 1 millisievert has meanwhile been set as a “long-term goal” for decontamination, without a specific time frame.

Nakanishi said that the 20 millisievert threshold is too high for many residents to accept and that the 1 millisievert figure is unrealistic in heavily contaminated areas, given the limits and cost of decontamination technology. As an alternative, she proposes a maximum exposure level of 5 millisieverts per year as a target for decontaminating evacuation zones, based on her assessment of the various risk factors.

“Somebody has to find a common ground where people can return to their homes as early as possible. We need to set a goal for radiation. . . . But no politician, bureaucrat or expert seems to make such suggestions,” she said. As a scientist, Nakanishi said it’s her job to find that magic number.
[...]
Nakanishi looked at health factors, technological limits, cost and time to assess the tainted areas in Fukushima and concluded that an annual radiation exposure of 5 millisieverts or less would be the best goal for repopulating them.

According to her calculations, a 5-millisievert goal would allow some 65,000 residents to return home in another one to two years and cost around ¥1.8 trillion to execute.
[...]
Nakanishi also emphasized that there is a need for the government to financially back those who want to relocate even if an annual radiation dose drops to less than 5 millisieverts a year. Given Japan’s experience with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some find it extremely hard to prevent horrific images of the aftermath from entering their minds when they hear the word radiation, she said.

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Insight – The cost of caring for Europe’s elderly nuclear plants via Reuters

(Reuters) – Europe’s ageing nuclear fleet will undergo more prolonged outages over the next few years, reducing the reliability of power supply and costing plant operators many millions of dollars.

Nuclear power provides about a third of the European Union’s electricity generation, but the 28-nation bloc’s 131 reactors are well past their prime, with an average age of 30 years.

And the energy companies, already feeling the pinch from falling energy prices and weak demand, want to extend the life of their plants into the 2020s, to put off the drain of funding new builds.

Closing the older nuclear plants is not an option for many EU countries, which are facing an energy capacity crunch as other types of plant are being closed or mothballed because they can’t cover their operating costs, or to meet stricter environmental regulation.

Though renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are slowly rising in the mix, they do not produce a constant output, so other sources will always be needed for backup.

But as nuclear plants age, performance can suffer, and outages – both scheduled and unplanned – rise.

[...]

Jean Tandonnet, EDF Group’s nuclear safety inspector, said in January that its French fleet last year had a series of “problematic unit outages”, and scheduled outages were extended by an average of more than 26 days. Regular maintenance and major equipment replacement jobs had increased by 60 percent in the last six years, he said.

“(At an ageing plant) outages take slightly longer, and there is more work to do to make sure it is in top condition. Safety comes ahead of anything else,” a spokeswoman for EDF Energy in the UK said.

France is the EU’s nuclear leader, its 58 reactors producing nearly three quarters of the country’s electricity. France’s nuclear watchdog will make a final decision on whether to extend the life of the French fleet to 50 years in 2018 or 2019. EDF has estimated the extension would cost 55 billion euros.

“The average age of the (French) reactors is now about 30 years, which raises questions about the investment needed to enable them to continue operating, as ageing reactors increasingly need parts to be replaced,” according to the World Nuclear Industry Status report 2014.

 

[...]

GERIATRIC DISORDERS

Britain has 16 reactors in operation that came online from the 1970s to 1990s, and all but one will be retired by 2023 unless they get extensions.

At the Wylfa plant in Wales – Britain’s oldest, at 43 years – the one remaining operational reactor was out of service for seven months this year. It was first taken down for maintenance, but the restart was delayed as new problems were discovered.

The reactor is scheduled to be taken out of service for good in September, but operator Magnox is seeking an extension to December 2015.

This week, EDF Energy took offline three of its nuclear reactors at its Heysham 1 and Hartlepool plants in Britain for inspection which are both 31 years old, after a crack was discovered on a boiler spine of another Heysham 1 reactor with a similar boiler design, which had already been taken offline in June. [POWER/GB]

 

[...]

More than half of Belgium’s nuclear capacity is offline for maintenance. The three closed reactors are 29, 31 and 32 years old.

Though it doesn’t break out the nuclear data separately, statistics from Europe’s electricity industry association Eurelectric show both planned and unplanned outages mostly increased at thermal power plants in eight European countries examined, and periods of energy unavailability increased from around 12.8 percent in 2002 to 18.3 percent in 2011.

As the plants age, that can only increase.

($1 = 0.7458 euro)

($1 = 0.5994 British pound)

Read more at Insight – The cost of caring for Europe’s elderly nuclear plants

 

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福島・川内村東部、10月に避難指示を解除へ via Yomiuri online

 東京電力福島第一原発事故で避難指示解除準備区域(年間被曝(ひばく)線量20ミリ・シーベルト以下)となっている福島県川内村東部について、政府の原子力災害現地対策本部は17日、同村で住民との意見交換会を開き、10月1日に避難指示を解除する方針を示した。

(略)

 住民約70人が出席し、約2時間にわたって政府側と質疑応答を した後、遠藤雄幸村長の「帰りたいという住民もいる。10月1日の解除を明言させていただきたい」との発言を踏まえ、同本部長の赤羽一嘉・経済産業副大臣 が「村長の意向を尊重する」として解除の方針を示した。併せて、村東部の一部に残る居住制限区域(同20ミリ・シーベルト超、50ミリ・シーベルト以下) も、避難指示解除準備区域に再編する方針を示した。

全文は 福島・川内村東部、10月に避難指示を解除へ

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福島・飯舘中 家庭訪問を再開…見合わせる学校もvia 読売新聞

 東京電力福島第一原発事故で全村避難が続く福島県飯舘村の村立飯舘中学校は今夏、避難後に休止していた家庭訪問を再開した。避難生活の影響で保護者と接する機会が減る一方、被曝ひばくの不安による子どもたちの運動不足やスマートフォンを巡るトラブルなど、家庭との連携が必要な問題は多い。

 ただ、手狭な仮設住宅を訪れることへの遠慮から、他の自治体では家庭訪問再開を見合わせる学校もある。

 「おはようございます」。7月31日朝、福島市の仮設住宅で、2年生の女子生徒が住む一室を訪れた飯舘中の玉野寛子教諭(35)は戸口から声をかけた。「先生、暑いですから」という母親の招きで室内に入り、約20分間、夏休みの過ごし方などを話し合った。「バス通学や都市部での暮らしなど、生徒たちは村にいた頃とはまったく違う環境にいる。家庭に伺うことで、それを実感できる」という。

 福島市内にある同校の仮設校舎には、同市など3市町から105人の生徒が通う。避難前は家庭訪問のほか、通学路の交通安全指導や学校周辺の草刈りなどで保護者と日常的に触れ合っていたが、生徒宅が遠くなった避難後は激減。目黒満校長は「PTAの会合も開けない状態」と明かす。

 一方、避難生活の長期化や外遊びを控える家庭が増えたことで、子どもたちは運動不足になっている。5~17歳の肥満傾向児の割合を調べた文部科学省の全国調査で、福島県は多くの年代で全国最高値を記録した。

 また、緊急時に連絡できるようにスマホを持たせる保護者が増加。同校では、無料通話アプリの利用を巡って生徒同士がもめるトラブルも起きている。家庭訪問再開には「学校での指導だけでは限界がある」(村教委)との判断もあった。

 読売新聞が、役場ごと避難している他の6町村の小中学校に取材したところ、家庭訪問を再開したのは17校中12校で、5校は見合わせたままだ。

 会津若松市に仮設校舎がある大熊町立大野小では「狭い仮設住宅や借り上げ住宅を訪ねれば、家庭に迷惑をかけることになりかねない」と、学校での個別面談で代用。児童の自宅周辺を訪れ、遊び場や通学路の危険箇所を調べている。富岡町立富岡第二小は、給食の試食会などを行い、保護者との交流を増やしている。

もっと読む。

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Return to Fukushima with Miles O’Brien via PBS

Three years after the disaster at Fukushima, science correspondent Miles O’Brien returned to the Daiichi nuclear plant for an exclusive look at the site. Follow Miles on a never-before-seen tour of Daiichi’s sister site, Fukushima Daini, which narrowly avoided a meltdown during the Tohoku earthquake. As the country debates turning its reactors back on, Miles asks: will Japan have a nuclear future?

Watch video.

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国策に翻弄され:戦争と原発/4止 戦没者の遺品収集−−田村市遺族会長・鈴木正一さん /福島 via 毎日新聞

◇戦争の風化に怖さ 「資料見てもらい平和語りたい」−−鈴木正一さん(74)

(略)

田村市歴史民俗資料館の一角に、平和祈念資料展示室が開設されたのはちょうど10年前の2004年8月でした。昭和から平成に時代が移り、かやぶ き農家が次々と新しい家に建て替えられ、戦没者の遺品が散逸していました。遺族会(当時は船引町連合遺族会)で保存する手立てはないかと考えました。お金 は遺族会で何とかできるとして、果たして遺品が集まるかどうか、それが一番心配でした。

展示室開設の5年ぐらい前、集まったのはわずか20、30点でした。これを種にして増やさないといけないと思い、船引町の文化祭に遺品を展示して 協力を呼びかけました。そしたら、出征写真や予科練制服、千人針など数百点が寄せられ、展示できるだけの資料を収集することができました。

戦没者の慰霊祭で皆、二度と戦争を起こさないと言います。でもなぜか無機質な枕ことばのように聞こえてなりません。口先で平和を語るよりも、資料 を見てもらって平和を語りたいという強い思いがありました。遺族会が資料展示室の運営に関わるのは珍しいケースですが、生きることの大切さ、平和の尊さを 遺品を通して訴えたかったのです。

(略)

原発事故への政府の対応にも疑問を感じます。原発も戦争と同じ国策です。それが事故の反省も踏まえず、政府は再稼働に突き進みます。あの戦争ですら風化 するのですから、原発事故もそうなる懸念は大いにあります。戦争も、原発事故も、若い世代にその教訓をどう語り継ぐかが今、問われているのだと思います。 【聞き手・浅田芳明】=おわり

全文は国策に翻弄され:戦争と原発/4止 戦没者の遺品収集−−田村市遺族会長・鈴木正一さん /福島

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Giant watercolor captures devastation of Fukushima nuclear disaster via The Asahi Shimbun

SENDAI–A giant image of a destroyed reactor building in a nuclear wasteland is drawing crowds at the Sendai Mediatheque cultural hall in Aoba Ward here.

Titled “Kyodaiga de Egakareru Fukushima” (Fukushima drawn in a huge picture), the watercolor of the Fukushima nuclear disaster by Hiroshige Kagawa is 5.4 meters high and 16.4 meters wide.

Kagawa, 37, is a native of Miyagi Prefecture.

The 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami devastated the prefectures of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima.

“I want to provide an opportunity for people in Miyagi Prefecture to think about Fukushima,” said Kagawa, who added that the painting portrays the anger he felt when he visited the vicinity surrounding the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after the onset of the disaster.

Kagawa first began making watercolors on a large scale in 2003.

One of the painter’s relatives died in the tsunami. Kagawa said his grandmother could not be located after the tsunami swept through the coastal city of Natori in Miyagi Prefecture. He searched for her by bicycle and she was later found to be safe.

[...]

The exhibition of “Kyodaiga de Egakareru Fukushima” at Sendai Mediatheque will run until Aug. 17.

Read more at Giant watercolor captures devastation of Fukushima nuclear disaster

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August Special: Downwinders via NHK World

Each August, Japan commemorates the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
NHK WORLD TV, which hopes for a world free of nuclear weapons, brings you the following special programs.

DOWNWINDERS Aug. 16, Sat. 0:10/ 6:10/ 12:10/ 18:10 (UTC)

After World War II, the United States conducted nearly 1,000 nuclear tests in the Nevada desert. Radioactive particles blew in the wind and descended on towns many miles from the testing site. People in these towns are known as “Downwinders,” and to this day only some of them have received compensation. The others are still fighting for recognition, and for information on the damage done to their health. Now, a previously unknown report has been uncovered, lending greater credence to their case. We take a look at the unknown and unhealed scars of the victims of nuclear weapons testing in America.

Read more at August Special: Downwinders

 

 

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(原発利権を追う)「事実だけを申し上げました」via 朝日新聞

■関電の裏面史、内藤千百里・元副社長の独白:13

《1987年、関西電力本社の取締役会で代表取締役名誉会長の芦原義重と副社長の内藤千百里は経営を私物化しているとして取締役を解任された。会長の小林庄一郎の緊急動議だった。芦原は相談役名誉会長、内藤は関電産業(現関電不動産)社長になった》

(略)

腹が立ち、本を書こうと思った。それを聞きつけた東京電力会長の平岩(外四)さんに東京へ呼ばれた。うなぎ屋の個室で二人っきり。「西からそんな問題を起こされたら困る。内藤さん、本を書かないで下さい」と手をついて頼まれた。芦原さんに迷惑をかけられない。「わかりました」と返事をした。

《内藤は沈黙を守った。だが、元首相への献金や政官界との宴会は続けた》

芦原さんは解任後も自分のパイプを小林に譲らなかった。最後まで権力を放したくないという人ではない。ただ負けずに生きていたいなという生命力。本能だったんでしょうね。

私も芦原さんの秘書役は続けた。連絡があれば元首相とセットしてカネを持って一緒に東京へ行った。芦原さんの刺激になると考え、小沢のいっちゃん(小沢一郎)との会合もつくりました。東京行きは芦原さんの体力が衰えて自然にフェードアウトですな。

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