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NPT再検討会議が決裂 核軍縮文書採択できず via 朝日新聞

(抜粋)

会議は先月27日に始まり、約190の加盟国が世界の核軍縮と核不拡散、原子力の平和利用について協議し、NPT体制を強めるための最終文書の採択を目指してきた。だが、22日の最終会合で、フェルキ議長は「努力を尽くしたが、会議は最終文書を採択できなかった」と述べた。

5年に1度開かれるNPT会議が、最終文書の採択に失敗するのは前々回の2005年以来。

フェルキ議長がまとめた最終文書案には、中東非核地帯構想についての国際会議を来年3月1日までに開くことを国連事務総長に委ねることが盛り込まれ、「全中東諸国が招待される」と明記された。中東では、事実上の核保有国とされるイスラエルがNPTに加盟しておらず、そのことを問題視するアラブ諸国は非核地帯構想の実現を長年訴えてきた。

だが、22日の会合では、米オバマ政権で核軍縮・不拡散政策を担うゴットメラー国務次官が、この記述を理由に最終文書案に「同意できない」と明言。英国やカナダも同調した。中東非核化に向けた会議が開かれれば、アラブ諸国がイスラエルを非難するのは必至で、米国は、事実上の同盟国であるイスラエルに配慮したとみられる。

世界の核兵器の約9割を持つ米国とロシアがウクライナ情勢などで対立し、中国も核戦力を増強するなど、核軍縮の機運は低下している。

一方で、核の非人道性や核兵器禁止を訴える国際潮流が拡大しており、今回の最終文書案にもそうした動きを反映する文言が残った。また、日本が世界の政治指導者らに被爆地・広島、長崎の訪問を求めたことを受け「核兵器の被害を受けた人々の経験の直接共有」といった文言も盛られた。だが、会議の決裂で、これらの「成果」は国際合意にはならなかった。

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Dimona: Israel’s ‘Little Hiroshima’ via Middle East Eye

In the early 1950s, after Israel had fought a desperate war of independence in which thousands of Israelis died to ensure the founding of the state, David Ben Gurion, its first prime minister, decided the nation required an existential trump card to guarantee its survival. In 1955, he tasked his chief aide, Shimon Peres, with creating a nuclear programme that would lead to building a nuclear weapon.

The most critical part of this project was creating a nuclear reactor that would manufacture the fuel to make these weapons. In 1959, Israel began construction on its reactor in Dimona. Eventually, there were thousands of workers both building the plant and, once it was constructed, working within it to build the arsenal of 200 nuclear weapons Israel is reputed to possess. An excellent short overall history of the project can be found online.

In the early stages of research, before Dimona existed, there were accidents that exposed scientists to lethal levels of radiation. Some of them died and their names are known (though not well). Less known is that Dimona had a series of accidents – the most serious in 1966 – that exposed hundreds of its workers to similarly lethal doses.

[…]

This is the subject of Orna Ben Dor’s riveting two-part documentary, The Dark Secret of the Dimona Reactor (Part 1 and Part 2, both in Hebrew), produced for Israeli TV. Workers there call the nuclear plant “Little Hiroshima,” alluding not only to the destructive power of what’s produced there, but the tragic impact that the reactor has on those who work within it.

The documentary, while it exposes many secrets and crimes of the state against its workers, is also unintentionally maddening because it deals with a subject that the nation deems justifiably opaque. For that reason, no one in the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, which runs Dimona, will speak on the record to the cameras. No journalist is allowed within the facility. Few if any records are made public regarding the functioning of the reactor.

[…]

Treated as garbage

The “lowest of the low” (on the hierarchical totem-pole) were the nuclear technicians, the clean-up workers sent in to mop up after equipment malfunctions. Often, they were “children” of the reactor: raised in the town, attending the technical high school at the plant that taught them how to maintain it and its equipment. They faced the most danger. Yet no one warned them. They did their jobs anonymously. But when they got sick, the state tossed them overboard.  One worker who was Mizrahi Jew was told that his cancer wasn’t the result of his work at Dimona, but rather his Moroccan origin. His Sephardi genes somehow caused his illness. If it was only the racism of this claim that was involved it would be bad enough. But to use racism to cover up state crimes against its citizens is unforgivable.

The tragedy is that the victims themselves, through their own innate sense of patriotism, refuse to understand the contradiction inherent in what they demand of the state. Israel itself is a kingdom of secrets. Dimona is a secret within a secret; the holy of holies of Israel’s nuclear religion. You cannot unravel the mysteries and expose the lies and crimes unless you tear the veil away. To do this, you must force Israel to end the opacity, end the secrecy. But no one in a position of power is willing to do this.

[…]

Israel’s ‘KGB state’

Avner Cohen also faults the documentary producer for not confronting Israeli nuclear bureaucrats more aggressively and demanding that they reply to the accusations. He argues in the review he wrote for Haaretz’s Hebrew edition that Israel must force those who devise Israel’s nuclear policy to confront uncomfortable questions. Only in this way can change happen.

The secrecy of the nuclear programme, one interviewee calls it a “KGB state,” goes hand in hand with the Israel’s overall opacity around all manner of security issues. It’s not surprising that Israel has put its fate in the hands of a few nuclear bureaucrats like those who run Dimona, because it runs its overall military apparatus in the same way. No civilian oversight to speak of. The generals get what they want. All in the name of protecting the state. It’s a devil’s bargain.

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UN nuclear weapons talks fail ‘over Israel row’ via BBC News

A UN conference aimed at preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons has ended in failure after a row over a nuclear-free Middle East proposal.

The Egypt-backed plan had envisaged a regional forum which analysts say might have forced Israel to reveal whether or not it has nuclear weapons.

The proposal was blocked by the US, the UK and Canada. The next review is set for 2020.

Israel neither confirms nor denies it has a stockpile of nuclear weapons.

Egypt’s warning

[…]

Last month, Egypt had proposed to stage a regional conference – with or without Israel’s participation and without an agreed agenda.

Some analysts suggested that this move might have forced Israel – which is not a party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) – to publicly clarify its position on nuclear weapons.

Decisions at NPT review conferences – held every five years – are made by consensus.

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原発ごみ処分地、国が「有望地」選ぶ方式に【放射性廃棄物処理場問題】via The Huffington Post

国主導で原発ごみ処分地選定、「有望地」提示 閣議決定

原発の使用済み核燃料から出る高レベル放 射性廃棄物の処分地選定について、政府は22日、公募に頼る従来の方式から、国が主導して選ぶ方式に転換する基本方針を閣議決定した。

(略)

高レベル廃棄物は強い放射線を出すため、300メートル以深に埋めて処分することが法律で決まっている。法律に基づく基本方針の改定は7年ぶり。

新方針では、科学的に適性が高いとみられる地域を国が科学的有望地として示し、調査したい意向を自治体などに申し入れる制度とする。公募も続ける。そのうえで20年程度かけて文献調査、概要調査、精密調査へと進む。

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Nuclear Hope: A Documentary About the Deepest and Darkest Places on Earth via Nuclear Hope

What will Canada do with its enormous stockpile of deadly radioactive waste? Currently, many small communities throughout Ontario are considering burying it underneath their boarders and close to Lake Huron and Lake Superior. When local residents learn about this plan, it sets off a firestorm between those who fear the risks and those who embrace the opportunity.

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Why Is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Undervaluing American Lives? via The Huffington Post

How much is your life worth?

That’s a key, but controversial, question for the federal government. Although it might seem distasteful to put a monetary value on a life, when federal agencies consider adopting new health and safety rules — or strengthening old ones — they often do just that and weigh the proposed rule’s costs against its lifesaving benefits. The lower value they give to a life, the easier it is for them to reject a proposed safety measure as too costly.

Agencies determine what’s called the “value of a statistical life” (VSL) based on a variety of economic and labor market studies that indicate what people are willing to pay to avoid certain risks or how much more employers pay workers to do a riskier job. For the most part, VSLs across agencies are in the same ballpark. For example, when estimating the benefits of a highway safety standard, the Department of Transportation calculates the value of a human life at $9.1 million. When the Environmental Protection Agency proposed strengthening the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter last year, it pegged the VSL at $9.6 million. And when the Occupational Safety and Health Administration finalized its hazard communication rule in 2012, it used a value of $8.7 million.

Virtually all agencies periodically increase the VSL to reflect inflation and other factors. I say “virtually” all, because at least one agency — the one responsible for ensuring the safety of commercial nuclear power plants — is way behind the times. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has been using the same value — $3 million — for the past two decades. That’s two to three times lower than other agencies’ calculations.

[…]

“If the NRC increased that value to what other federal agencies use — and made other long-overdue changes to the way it calculates the benefits of regulations — it would have a major impact on nuclear plant license renewals and new reactor approvals,” said Edwin Lyman, a physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Plant owners would have to add safety features that the NRC now considers to be too expensive because the agency lowballs the value of the lives that would be saved.”

As it turns out, the NRC has been reconsidering its VSL formulation since August 2012, and the agency’s staff is expected to soon recommend tripling the VSL to $9 million and tying it to the inflation rate going forward. Once that recommendation is officially proposed, which could happen any day now, the agency will open up a public comment period.

Undoubtedly, the nuclear power industry will object. It routinely complains about costly rules it finds burdensome.

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福島原発:廃液専用容器に不備 東電が早急に調査へ via 毎日新聞

東京電力は22日、東電福島第1原発で汚染水を処理した際に発生する廃液などを入れた専用容器の1基に、必要なガス抜きの穴が開けられていなかったと発表した。穴の有無を確認していないまま使われている容器は全部で305基あり、東電は早急に調査するとしている。

(略)

4月上旬、容器のガス抜き穴から放射性物質を含む廃液が漏れていたことが発覚。これを受けて点検作業をしていた協力企業の作業員が、4月下旬にふた に穴のない容器を発見した。容器約1400基のうち、穴の有無を検査していなかった容器は未使用分も含め334基あったという。

穴がなかった原因について東電は「米国工場で容器が製造される過程で、穴開けの作業が飛ばされたのではないか」と推測している。【斎藤有香】

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METI changes tactics after search for nuclear waste host proves futile via The Japan Times

The government will select potential areas to host nuclear dump sites instead of waiting for communities to volunteer, according to the revised policy on permanent disposal of high-level radioactive waste that was adopted by the Cabinet on Friday.

The revision, the first in seven years, was prompted after towns, villages and cities throughout Japan snubbed requests to host nuclear waste dumps. The government has been soliciting offers since 2002.

The move is seen as a sign that the government wants to address the matter as it proceeds with its pursuit of reactor restarts. All commercial units have largely sat idle since the triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in 2011.

It remains unclear when a final depository could be built, because the policy mentions no time frame. The government also plans to expand its storage capacity for spent fuel by building new interim facilities as a short-term fix.

[…]

Permanent disposal of high-level nuclear waste requires that a depository be built more than 300 meters underground, where the materials must lie for up to 100,000 years until radiation levels fall to the point where there is no harm to humans or the environment.

About 17,000 tons of spent fuel is stored on the premises of nuclear plants and elsewhere in Japan, but some would run out of space in three years if all the reactors got back online.

Under the revision, the government said it will allow future generations to retrieve high-level waste from such facilities should policy changes or new technologies emerge.

Worldwide, only Finland and Sweden have been able to pick final depository sites. Finland is building the world’s first permanent disposal site for high-level waste in Olkiluoto, aiming to put it into operation around 2020.

But many other countries with nuclear plants are struggling to find a site for such a facility. In the United States, President Barack Obama decided in 2009 to call off a plan to build a disposal site in Nevada’s Yucca Mountain due to local opposition.

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八木電事連会長「原発の新増設は必要」 政府の電源構成案を受け via 日本経済新聞

電気事業連合会の八木誠会長(関西電力社長)は22日、都内で開いた記者会見で、「将来の原子力発電プラントの新増設や更新は必要になる」と話した。同時に耐用年数とされる40年を超えたプラントについても「安全が確認されれば有効活用していきたい」とした。

政府は2030年の電源構成案として原子力の比率を20~22%に設定している。政府は当面は原子力発電プラントの新増設は行わない方針を打ち出している が、「技術や人材の維持のためにもおのずと(新増設は)求められるだろう」とした。関西電力(9503)の社長としても、「(かねて検討してきた)美浜原 子力発電所(福井県美浜町)1号機の後継プラントについては、引き続き建設の意欲は変わっていない」とした。

政府は22日に原子力発電所の使用済み核燃料を再処理した後に出る高レベル放射性廃棄物(核のごみ)の処分について、新たな基本方針を閣議決定した。

続きは八木電事連会長「原発の新増設は必要」 政府の電源構成案を受け

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福島第一原発 建屋カバー解体を延期 via NHK News Web

(抜粋)

福島第一原発1号機は、放射性物質の放出を抑えるため建屋全体がカバーで覆われていますが、東京電力は建屋に散乱したがれきを撤去して燃料プールに残され ている核燃料を取り出すため、早ければ今月26日からカバーを解体する計画で、作業に先だって先週からカバーの内側に放射性物質を含む粉じんが飛び散るの を防ぐ薬剤をまいていました。
ところが、21日、建屋内の吹き抜けの部分を塞いでいる5メートル四方のゴム製のシートがずれて、隙間ができている のが見つかりました。このシートは、下から吹き上げる風で放射性物質が舞い上がるのを防ぐために設けられたものですが、シートの上にはこれまでにまいた薬 剤がたまっていたということです。
東京電力は、薬剤の散布とシートがずれたこととの関連は分からないとしたうえで、原因の調査に時間がかかるとし て、建屋カバーの解体作業を来月以降に延期することを決めました。調査は来月上旬までかかる見通しで、その後、カバーの解体作業を始める具体的なめどは 立っていないということです。

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