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Opinion: California’s San Onofre nuclear plant is a Chernobyl waiting to happen via Los Angeles Times

By KATE BROWN

Nuclear accidents often aren’t surprises. Whistleblowers had warned of the dangers before such disasters occurred in 1986 in Chernobyl, Ukraine, and 25 years later in Fukushima, Japan. As one of the world’s wealthiest and most technologically advanced nations, the U.S. may be no better prepared.

Many U.S. states have aging nuclear power plants brimming with four decades of self-heating, highly corrosive and toxic radioactive waste. Last month, the California Coastal Commission gave Southern California Edison permission to dismantle the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and move its 3.55 million pounds of nuclear waste from wet to dry storage.

Local activists cheered after the troubled San Onofre plant was permanently shut down in 2013 after a 75-gallon-a-day radioactive leak was discovered in a new steam generator. Closing it didn’t stop the threat. Now activists must wait until the plant’s nuclear waste is removed to a yet-to-be-built national nuclear waste repository or until the waste decays in several thousand years, whichever comes first.

[…]

In an examination of more than 25 archives in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, I found that most of the official Chernobyl accounts are incomplete or misleading. Forty thousand people were hospitalized the summer after the accident from Chernobyl exposures, not the 300 Soviet officials claimed.

The effect of the Chernobyl disaster on the region’s population is staggering. Radioactive contaminants migrated toward population centers in dust, water, airways and food. Thyroid disease, autoimmune disorders, anemia, and diseases of the circulation system, digestive tract and lungs increased year by year. Leukemia, pediatric thyroid cancer, and cancers of the mouth, throat and stomach followed.

Belarusian and Ukrainian leaders begged the United Nations General Assembly for aid to move 200,000 more people from contaminated land, and for a long-term study on low doses of radiation on health. The aid never came. It didn’t help that other U.N. agencies, especially the International Atomic Energy Agency, asserted that increased health problems in Chernobyl-contaminated territories had nothing to do with nuclear fallout.

[…]

The lack of preventive measures at San Onofre is disturbing. There is no procedure in place to remove the 50-ton casks of highly radioactive waste from their vaults in response to changing environmental conditions such as erosion or rising sea levels. There is no budget to inspect the spent fuel, nor funds to transfer radioactive waste from thin-walled to sturdier thick-walled casks. In the event of corrosion and loss of containment, there are no procedures in place to repair or slow the leak of radioactive contaminants.

[…]

Greg Jaczko, a former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, recently changed his mind about the safety and feasibility of nuclear power after witnessing how lobbyists campaigned to undercut recommended safety regulation changes following the Fukushima accident, which is expected to cost more than $500 billion to clean up over the next four decades. Sadly, the International Commission for Radiological Protection no longer says, “it couldn’t happen here.” Instead, the group schools the public on how to deal with radioactive contaminants in their environment “as a key factor to control radiation exposure.”

Read more at Opinion: California’s San Onofre nuclear plant is a Chernobyl waiting to happen

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原子力規制委、九電玄海原発の核燃料プール増強を許可 via 毎日新聞

 原子力規制委員会は20日、九州電力玄海原発(佐賀県玄海町)の核燃料プールに保管する使用済み核燃料の間隔を詰める工事の計画を正式に許可した。「リラッキング」と呼ばれ、全体の保管容量を増やす目的がある。東京電力福島第1原発事故後に発足した規制委にとって、リラッキングの許可は初めて。

 玄海3号機のプールの水中で枠に入れて並べて保管している核燃料の間隔について、現状の約36センチから約28センチに狭めて、保管容量を1・6倍の約1670体に増やす。玄海原発では、放射線を遮る金属容器に使用済み核燃料を入れて地上で空冷する「乾式貯蔵」も規制委に申請中で、リラッキングと合わせて保管容量を更に増やす。
 【高橋慶浩】

続きは原子力規制委、九電玄海原発の核燃料プール増強を許可

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South Korea nuclear regulator wants information on radioactive Fukushima water release via Reuters

By Jane Chung

SEOUL (Reuters) – Japan’s reluctance to disclose information about the release of radioactive water from its damaged Fukushima nuclear plant is hampering neighboring countries’ efforts to minimize the impact, the head of South Korea’s nuclear safety agency said on Wednesday.

[…]

Japan has not yet decided how to deal with the contaminated water, but its environment minister said in September that radioactive water would have to be released from the site into the Pacific Ocean. 

“We have been raising Japan’s radioactive water issue to the international community to minimize the impact … but as Japan hasn’t disclosed any specific plan and process we would need more details to run simulations and study,” Uhm Jae-sik, chairman of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, told Reuters.

In addition to the Fukushima crisis, safety concerns about nuclear energy have increased in South Korea following a 2012 scandal over the supply of faulty reactors parts with forged documents, prompting a series of shutdowns of nuclear reactors. 

South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest user of nuclear power, targets a long-term phase out of atomic power to allay public concerns.

Read more at South Korea nuclear regulator wants information on radioactive Fukushima water release

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Pope expected to deliver powerful message on nuclear weapons via The Asahi Shimbun

By MASATO TAINAKA/ Staff Writer

Roman Catholics and atomic bomb survivors in Japan are fervently hoping the first papal visit in nearly 40 years will help trigger a sharp shift in thinking by the nuclear powers.

Francis, 82, will be the second pope to visit Japan after Pope John Paul II in 1981. He is scheduled to go to Nagasaki and Hiroshima on Nov. 24.

Hibakusha, mindful of the interest Francis has shown in the weapons’ issue, harbor high expectations that he will deliver such a strong message that the United States, in particular, takes note.

[…]

According to Cardinal Manyo Maeda, 70, himself a second-generation hibakusha, Francis was clearly shaken by the photo, saying children should never experience such horrors.

Francis believes the church should serve as a field hospital and has pushed efforts to help the disadvantaged by providing support to refugees as well as working to eliminate poverty.

Mitsugi Moriguchi, 83, who survived the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, befriended O’Donnell during his visits to Japan to uncover the identity of the boy in the photo. He argued about the inhumane nature of nuclear weapons for the rest of his life, even as he suffered from severe spinal cord pain believed to be an after-effect of radiation exposure.

But Moriguchi is also aware that not all Americans share O’Donnell’s sentiment.

Moriguchi was shocked when he visited Richland High School in Washington state last year and found that the symbol for the school was a mushroom cloud. The school is located next to Hanford Site, a former nuclear facility that produced the plutonium used for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki.

He was shocked because the students had not learned about the devastation the bomb wrought.

The prevailing view in the United States is that the atomic bombings brought an early end to World War II and saved countless American lives.

Moriguchi was struck by the dearth of knowledge in the United States about the horrors of nuclear warfare and lack of interest in the victims, such as the young boy in the photograph.

Moriguchi will be among those welcoming Francis to Nagasaki. He hopes the pontiff will deliver a strong message to the world calling for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

[…]

Christopher Hrynkow, an associate professor of religion and culture at St. Thomas More College of the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, has studied what popes have said and written about nuclear weapons since the time of Pius XII.

Pius raised concerns during World War II about research being done to develop nuclear weapons.

When John Paul II visited Japan in 1981, he called for the elimination of nuclear weapons when he visited Hiroshima and called war the “work of man.”

His comment is said to have deeply moved many Catholic worshipers.
The atomic bombing of Nagasaki destroyed Urakami Cathedral, then the largest cathedral in the Far East. An estimated 8,500 Catholics perished in the bombing.

Takashi Nagai, a hibakusha doctor who headed the members at Urakami and whose wife died in the blast, referred to the atomic bomb as “divine providence,” given the horrific death toll.

About 140,000 people died in Hiroshima before the year was out. The figure for Nagasaki was 74,000 people. The death toll from burns and other injuries kept rising in the years that followed.

Nagai later wrote “Nagasaki no Kane” (The Bells of Nagasaki), in which he called Urakami’s destruction a sacrifice to God.

The General Headquarters of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (GHQ) immediately clamped down on any reporting about the after-effects of the atomic bombs, and only allowed Nagai’s work to be published if it was done in conjunction with a document compiled by GHQ that described atrocities committed by the Imperial Japanese Army in Manila.

After John Paul II’s revelation that war was the work of man, many Catholic hibakusha began opening up about their own experiences.

Much of this was due to the late Tsuyo Kataoka, herself a hibakusha, who said, “The atomic bomb was not the work of God.”

Mitsuaki Takami, the archbishop of Nagasaki, was a fetus when the bomb was dropped.

“Nagai may have tried to absolve the United States by saying it was divine providence, but the bombing can never be legitimized,” Takami said. “There has been no atonement.”

[…]

The movement for the nuclear weapons ban treaty was pushed by nations such as Mexico that feared another Cuban missile crisis that brought the United States and the former Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war.

Many of the 122 nations that voted for the treaty in 2017 were developing nations in Africa as well as island nations in the Pacific where nuclear tests were conducted by the United States, Britain and France.

The treaty will take effect once 50 nations have ratified it. According to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), which in 2017 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, 79 nations have signed the treaty and 33 have ratified it to date.

But in addition to the nuclear powers, nations such as Japan and South Korea that are protected by the U.S. nuclear umbrella have balked at approving the treaty.

Nations that pushed for the treaty are hoping that Francis’ visit to Japan will provide momentum to encourage other nations to sign and ratify the treaty.

There are about 440,000 Catholics in Japan and about 1.3 billion around the world.

[…]

CONFLICTING VIEWS IN U.S.

I visited the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, in July. One of the aircraft on display was the B-29 Bockscar that dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. A nearby sign described the aircraft as having brought World War II to an end.

The aim of the display seemed intended to perpetuate the myth in the United States about the invincible strength of nuclear weapons and the general acceptance there that the bombings saved numerous American lives by bringing the war to an early end.

But not all Americans are comfortable with that view.

[…]

According to documents at the Truman Library in Independence, Missouri, Harry Truman never expressed regret for having authorized the atomic bombings. But in private correspondence, Truman wrote about the chagrin he felt when he thought about the many women and children who died as a result of his decision.

Close associates confided in diary entries that Washington was concerned about how the bombings would affect relations with the Vatican.

The United States at that time did not have diplomatic ties with the Vatican, and U.S. officials may well have been concerned about the negative impact that was bound to result from the destruction of Urakami Cathedral.

Francis has taken a stand against nuclear weapons on a number of occasions, and clearly rejected the theory of nuclear deterrence. His statements seem to reflect his growing sense of crisis at the prospect of another Cold War in light of recent moves by the Trump administration.

For example, it has ignored provisions of the NPT calling for sincere negotiation efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and earlier this year invalidated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty with Russia. It is now pushing ahead with development of low-yield nuclear weapons.

Read more at Pope expected to deliver powerful message on nuclear weapons

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(記者解説)ローマ法王来日 ナガサキからの発信 核と人類取材センター・田井中雅人 via 朝日新聞

フランシスコ法王は長崎から核兵器の非倫理性を訴えるメッセージを発信する
 ・「神の摂理」でなく「人間のしわざ」、歴代法王は核兵器の正当性を否定してきた
 ・核兵器禁止条約推進のバチカンは、「使える核」開発のトランプ米政権とも対峙(たいじ)する

 ■胸打った少年の写真
 ローマ・カトリック教会のフランシスコ法王(82)が24日、被爆地の長崎と広島を訪れる。法王の訪日は1981年の故ヨハネ・パウロ2世以来、38年ぶり2度目。被爆地からどんなメッセージを発するのだろうか。

(略)

長崎で被爆した森口貢(みつぎ)さん(83)は、少年を捜して来日したオダネル氏と交流した。オダネル氏は戦後、被爆の後遺症とみられる脊髄(せきずい)の痛みに苦しみながら、一貫して核兵器の非人道性を訴えた。しかし森口さんが昨年訪れた米国・ハンフォードの学校の校舎には、キノコ雲の絵が誇らしげに掲げられていた。ハンフォードは長崎原爆の材料となったプルトニウムが生産された原子炉があるところだ。森口さんは「キノコ雲の下で起きたことは、何も知られていない」と衝撃を受けた。

原爆は戦争を終わらせた「勝利の兵器」として語られ、犠牲者の中には、あの写真の少年のような子どもたちがいたことが伝えられていない。そう感じた。法王の長崎訪問に立ち会う森口さんは、「核兵器廃絶の強いメッセージを世界に発信してほしい」と願う。

法王は24日、長崎市爆心地公園で核兵器に関するメッセージを発信し、県営球場でミサを行う。その後、広島市平和記念公園を訪問する。

前田枢機卿によると、法王は「核兵器は使うのも造るのも倫理に反する」と訴えており、長崎から発信するメッセージでも、こうした核兵器の非倫理性を訴えるとみられる。

(略)

 ヨハネ・パウロ2世は81年に広島で、「戦争は人間のしわざです」と語り、核兵器廃絶を訴えた。これはカトリック信徒らに影響を与えたとされる。

米国による原爆投下で「東洋一の大聖堂」とうたわれた長崎の浦上天主堂が大破し、信徒8500人が犠牲になった。妻を亡くし、自らも被爆した医師で信徒代表の故・永井隆博士はそれでも、「原爆は神の摂理であり、犠牲者はいけにえだった」と唱えた。

戦後、連合国軍総司令部(GHQ)が原爆報道や出版を禁じる「プレス・コード」を敷くなか、この「浦上燔祭(はんさい)説」を盛り込んだ永井博士の代表作「長崎の鐘」は、旧日本軍の残虐行為をGHQがまとめた「マニラの悲劇」との抱き合わせを条件に出版が認められた経緯があり、米国の原爆投下責任を見えなくしたとの批判もある。

 ヨハネ・パウロ2世の「人間のしわざ」発言を機に、「原爆は神のしわざではなかった」(故・片岡ツヨさん)と被爆体験を語り始めた信徒もいた。胎内被爆者の高見三明(みつあき)・カトリック長崎大司教(73)は「永井博士は神の摂理を説いて米国をゆるそうとしたかもしれないが、原爆投下は正当化できない。償いは終わっていない」と語る。

(略)

日本のカトリック信徒は約44万人だが、世界には約13億人。今回の法王訪日のテーマは「すべての命を守るため」。高見大司教は「長崎からのメッセージの影響力は大きい」と話す。

 ■「原爆神話」抜け出すメッセージ期待 米国、根強い正当化「戦争を終わらせた」
 米国立空軍博物館(オハイオ州)で7月、長崎に原爆を投下したB29爆撃機「ボックスカー」を見た。看板には「第2次世界大戦を終わらせた航空機」とある。戦争を早期終結させ、多数の米国人兵士の命を救ったという「原爆神話」を守ろうとする勢力が、いまも強いのだと感じた。

(略)

トルーマン大統領図書館(ミズーリ州)の資料によると、原爆使用を後悔したことはないと正当化し続けたトルーマン氏も、実は多数の女性や子どもの命を奪ったことへの無念を手紙につづり、バチカンとの関係を心配していたと側近が日記で記していた。当時米国とバチカンの間には国交がなく、浦上天主堂を原爆で破壊したことへの懸念があったのかもしれない。

法王は核兵器の抑止力の正当性を明確に否定し、踏み込んだ発言を繰り返している。NPTが定める核軍縮の誠実交渉義務を無視するトランプ米政権が、ロシアとの中距離核戦力(INF)全廃条約から離脱し、低出力の「使える核兵器」の開発を進めるなど、冷戦回帰のような現状への危機感の表れとも言える。

原爆投下75年を前に、法王は浦上天主堂跡で見つかった「被爆マリア像」や米国から返還された「被爆十字架」も目にすることになりそうだ。その上で原爆神話から抜け出すためのメッセージを期待する。それが、米国の「核の傘」に依存し、核禁条約に背を向ける日本政府にも転換を促すきっかけとなってほしい。

全文は(記者解説)ローマ法王来日 ナガサキからの発信 核と人類取材センター・田井中雅人

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Why South Africa Gave up Its Nuclear Weapons Forever via The National Interests

by Robert Farley

Key Point: The old apartheid government caved to foreign pressure and didn’t want the newly-elected government to gain control of the weapons.

Why did South Africa decide to build nukes, how did it build them and why did it decide to give them up? The answers are largely idiosyncratic, although they may hold some lessons for the future of nuclear weapons development on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere.

[…]

South Africa could mine the requisite uranium on its own territory, and enrich it in domestic facilities. With a modern industrial economy and access to technologically sophisticated institutions of learning and research in the United States and Europe, South Africa could easily develop the technical expertise needed to build a weapon. Already the target of harsh international disdain for its domestic institutions, the South African government did not worry overmuch about how the pursuit of nuclear weapons might make it into an international pariah.

Overall, South Africa constructed six uranium gun fission weapons (similar in nature to the Little Boy weapon dropped on Hiroshima). The devices were too large to fit onto any existing South African missiles, and consequently would have been delivered by bombers such as the English Electric Canberra or the Blackburn Buccaneer. South Africa explored the possibility of building or acquiring ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, although this would have required a substantial upgrade of the devices themselves. No full test of the devices has ever been confirmed, as heavy pressure from the United States, the Soviet Union and France helped force Pretoria to cancel an underground detonation in 1977.

[…]

Still, analysts suspect or know of at least four countries that supplied a degree of support to South Africa’s nuclear program. The United States supplied much of the initial technology associated with South Africa’s civilian nuclear program under a variety of different assistance programs. Although not intended to accelerate proliferation, the assistance did provide the basis for South Africa’s eventual nuclear program. France and Pakistan may also have supplied technical assistance at various points during the development of the program.

[…]

Conclusion

The region and the world are undoubtedly safer because of the decisions made in the 1990s to relinquish South Africa’s nuclear program. Moreover, the dismantling of the relatively small program provided a template for how other nuclear powers could think about eliminating their own programs. However, with the exception of the Soviet successor states (which faced dramatically different constraints) no other states have yet taken up South Africa’s example. With the apparent increase in global tensions over the past few years, it seems unlikely that anyone will join South Africa in the post-nuclear club anytime soon.

Read more at Why South Africa Gave up Its Nuclear Weapons Forever

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Japan’s METI says it’s safe to dump radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear disaster into ocean via The Japan Times

Discharging the water into the Pacific Ocean over the course of a year would amount to between just one-1,600th and one-40,000th of the radiation to which humans are naturally exposed, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, or METI, told a government subcommittee on the issue.

Water used to cool the melted-down cores and groundwater from close to the damaged plant contain some radioactive materials, and are currently being collected and stored in tanks on the plant grounds.

But space is running out fast, and the government is exploring ways to deal with the waste water — which already totals more than 1 million tons with the volume increasing by more than 100 tons every day.

According to an estimate performed by the ministry, annual radiation levels near the release point after a release would be between 0.052 and 0.62 microsievert at sea, and 1.3 microsieverts in the atmosphere, compared with the 2,100 microsieverts that humans come into contact with each year in daily life.

[…]

The waste water is currently being treated using an advanced liquid processing system referred to as ALPS, though the system does not remove tritium and has been found to leave small amounts of other radioactive materials.

The tanks storing the water are expected to become full by the summer of 2022, according to Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The plant was damaged by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami on March 11, 2011.

[…]

In September, Japanese and South Korean officials traded barbs over the issue at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

A nuclear expert from the IAEA said in 2018 that a controlled discharge of such contaminated water “is something which is applied in many nuclear facilities, so it is not something that is new.”

Read more at Japan’s METI says it’s safe to dump radioactive water from Fukushima nuclear disaster into ocean

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高濃度汚染土 流出 福島山林 下流に拡散か via 東京新聞

 十月の台風19号の大雨により、東京電力福島第一原発事故で高濃度に汚染された山林の土砂が崩れて道路に流れ出ていたことが、本紙と木村真三・独協医科大准教授(放射線衛生学)の合同調査で分かった。放射性廃棄物の基準値内ではあるものの、放射性セシウムが大量の雨や土砂と共に河川の下流域に流れて汚染が拡散したとみられ、被ばく対策に警戒が必要だ。 (大野孝志、写真も)

調査は台風通過後の十月二十四~二十九日、福島県南相馬、いわき、二本松、本宮各市の土砂崩れや川の氾濫現場、浸水した住宅地の計十五カ所で堆積した土砂を採取し、セシウムの濃度を測定した。

南相馬市小高区の山から路上に流れ出た土砂で、一キログラム当たり約三〇〇〇~五〇〇〇ベクレルのセシウムを検出した。現場は川沿いで住宅地の上流。近くに墓地があり、墓参りで住民が訪ねる場所だ。原発事故後、山林で除染したのは縁から二十メートルの範囲だけだったため山奥に高濃度の汚染が残っており、その土砂が流出したとみられる。

同じ場所では台風通過直後の同十四日、住民の白髭(しらひげ)幸雄さん(69)が土砂を採取し、一万一〇〇〇ベクレル超を検出していた。放射性廃棄物の基準(八〇〇〇ベクレル)を超える高濃度だった。白髭さんの採取後、本紙が採取するまでの間に大雨が降っており、汚染土の一部が川に流れ、セシウム濃度が下がったと推測される。

同市原町区の新田川の中・下流域では、氾濫して河川敷にたまった土砂から約四六〇~二〇〇〇ベクレルを検出。二本松市の畑や本宮市の住宅地にたまった土砂も高濃度ではないものの、汚染は明らかだった。

木村准教授は「山奥にたまったセシウムが、大量の雨と土砂で拡散されながら下流に流れたと考えられる。局地的に放射線量が高い『ホットスポット』の場所が台風で変わった恐れもあり、被災地に入るボランティアらは感染症対策のためだけでなく、内部被ばく対策でもマスクを必ず着けてほしい」としている。

県は台風後に県内四~八カ所の放射線量と泥の測定結果を二回公表。汚染状況は台風前と同程度としていた。県放射線監視室の酒井広行室長は「山林の奥は除染しておらず、高濃度の土砂の流出は危惧していた。市町村など関係機関と連携して対処していかねばならない」とし、十一月中は場所を増やして測定を続ける方針を示した。

続きは高濃度汚染土 流出 福島山林 下流に拡散か

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都立水元公園(葛飾区)の放射能汚染は今 via 東京新聞

東京23区で最大規模を誇り、湖沼の景観が広がる都立水元公園(東京都葛飾区)。東京電力福島第一原発から200キロ以上離れるが、都内の公園では事故の影響が最も強く残る。首都圏で測定を続ける丹野心平さん(39)と森本祥江さん(58)とともに調べた。 

調査は、都環境局職員の立ち会いのもと9月中旬に実施。

(略)

歩道の放射線量は、都心よりもわずかに高いかどうかというレベルだった。 

しかし、いざ各地の土壌を採取して放射性セシウムの濃度を調べると、29地点のうち12地点で放射性廃棄物の基準(1キロ当たり8000ベクレル)を超えた。 

濃度の高い地点は、雨水が集まりやすい少し低い場所が多かった。ただ、地形的な変化のない場所でも数千ベクレルあるのには驚かされた。濃度の割に放射線が低い地点も散見れるが、汚染土の分布が狭いためとみられる。(山川剛史)

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原発調査 住民抗議で作業進まず via NHK山口

中国電力は、原子力発電所の建設を計画している上関町の沖合で、ボーリング調査を始める予定でしたが、計画に反対する地元の住民たちが、漁船で現場の海上に集まっていることから、作業の準備が今も進められない状況です。

上関町では、中国電力が原子力発電所の建設を計画していますが、福島での原発事故以降、予定地となっている海の埋め立て工事が中断されたままです。
工事の再開に向け、中国電力は予定地に活断層が無いかを調べるため、沖合およそ200メートルでボーリング調査を行う方針で、今月8日から準備作業に着手しました。
しかし、作業を行う海上には、建設に反対している町の離島・祝島の住民が漁船で集まり、抗議を続けています。
[…]
祝島の住民のひとりは「仕事が許す限り、中国電力が作業をやめるまで、毎日でも漁船で集まろうと思っている」と話し、抗議を続ける考えです。

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