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Not our neighborhood? via The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists

By Bruce Cumings

In the late summer of 1880, Korean envoy Kim Hong-jip spent several weeks in Tokyo consulting with Japanese and Chinese diplomats. On September 6, Huang Zunxian, a counselor in China’s mission to Tokyo, presented him with a radical proposal called “A Strategy for Korea.” Korea could no longer maintain its seclusion policy, he said. It needed to buy time to strengthen itself, and new alliances were the answer—following a novel concept called “the balance of power.” Russia threatened Korea, but Japan—while preoccupied with reform for the time being—was the real future danger. Meanwhile the United States, Huang thought, “has always upheld justice” and had never allowed the European powers “to freely perpetrate their evil deeds.” If that might not turn out to be true, at least the United States was well across the Pacific, minding its own business. Huang therefore recommended that Korea remain intimate with China, associate with Japan, and form an alliance with the United State—which could be furthered by negotiating a treaty of mutual benefit.


For a quarter-century the North Koreans have been pregnant with an idea whose time never came—perhaps until now. That idea was to somehow draw the United States in to solve Pyongyang’s profound isolation and vulnerability, after the Soviet Union collapsed and China opened a broad relationship with South Korea. It was never easy to discern this—and hard for the North to say it out loud—amid their limitless farrago of anti-American propaganda. But it was a central if unspoken part of their diplomacy with Washington in the 1990s.


Their strategy almost worked in the last two years of the Clinton administration, which had frozen the North’s entire plutonium complex in 1994, and was on the verge of an indirect buyout of North Korea’s medium and long-range missiles in December of 2000 in return for normalization of relations with the United States. However the incoming George W. Bush administration in general and John Bolton in particular quickly made hash of that remarkable breakthrough. As Nicholas Kristof pointed out in his New York Times OpEd of May 24 of this year, “Bolton is smart and well-informed, and he hit the trifecta: On Iraq, Iran and North Korea alike, he has a perfect record of disastrous decisions. He was a champion of the invasion of Iraq, he helped kill nuclear deals with Iran both 14 years ago and again this year, and he helped destroy an agreement with North Korea in 2002 in addition to derailing the latest summit plan.


If there were a Nobel Prize for Distinguished Warmongering, Bolton would be a shoo-in.”


More remarkable, perhaps, is South Korean president Moon Jae-in’s role. He seized on Pyongyang’s willingness to attend the Pyeongchang winter Olympics to begin a diplomatic process that has culminated in the Singapore summit—he is the one, after all, who told Trump about Kim’s interest in meeting with him. Less obvious was Moon’s statement while visiting Xi Jin-ping last winter, that the United States was an ally but Japan was not—a fact for decades, but one rarely voiced. It might have been an addendum to Huang’s memorandum—and note that today Japan is on the outside looking in.


It may be hard to understand that North Korea has always chafed at America’s unwillingness to recognize it—to give it the respect and dignity that is at the core of its ideological system ofchuch’e, or self-reliance. Whether Washington is finally willing to do that now, 70 years after the regime was founded, is still unclear. Trump recently said that “That’s their neighborhood; it’s not our neighborhood,” and rumors in Washington suggest that he wants to withdraw US troops from the South. But Kim Jong-un seems no longer to care about expelling those troops; instead he appears willing to follow the Counselor’s advice—which Huang summed up in a pithy, typically Chinese phrase: qin Zhong, jie Ri, lian Mei: stay close to China, associate with Japan, ally with America.




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Study: Traces of radioactive contamination found in homes of six Hanford workers via The Seattle Times

The levels are low, but if some microparticles are inhaled or ingested by nuclear-site workers or their families, the radioactive dust is a “potential source of internal radiation exposure,” the study’s author writes.

Dust samples from the homes of six Hanford nuclear-site workers in the Tri-City area contained traces of radioactive contamination, according to a study published this month in the Journal of Environmental Engineering Science.

The levels are low, but if some microparticles are inhaled or ingested by the workers or their families, the radioactive dust is a “potential source of internal radiation exposure,” writes Marco Kaltofen, a civil engineer whose peer-reviewed study also found radioactive particles in dust samples in nuclear workers’ homes near the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and the former Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado.

The particles were found in samples collected over a period of years from the homes of the nuclear workers and those of their neighbors. Inhalation of the particles, which included uranium, thorium, plutonium and americium, can increase the risk of cancer.


“These radioactive particles are tiny and difficult to detect once you get a few inches away,” said Kaltofen, who is affiliated with Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. “But once inside the body, the distance from our tissue is essentially zero.”

Kaltofen said his research indicates that some other homes likely have low levels of radioactive contamination, and he recommended more testing.


“A special population”

Kaltofen obtained many of these samples through a yearslong collaborative effort with Hanford Challenge, a Seattle-based organization that focuses on accountability in the federal cleanup of decades of plutonium production for atomic bombs at the 562-square-mile federal site near Richland.


Kaltofen, through the course of his study, found three of the highest levels of thorium radioactivity in the dust of three Hanford workers’ homes. Two of these dust samples were collected from older homes built in Richland for Hanford workers during the 1940s.

The third home was a newer suburban house outside the Tri-City areas owned by a Hanford employee who worked at a tank farm that stores radioactive and chemical wastes.

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原発処理作業者、ドイツで過酷労働や健康被害訴え via Alterna























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As Nuclear Struggles, A New Generation Of Engineers Is Motivated By Climate Change via NPR

The number of people graduating with nuclear engineering degrees has more than tripled since a low point in 2001, and many are passionate about their motivation.


Fein is among those who argue that nuclear plants should be recognized as clean energy, and paid for the public benefit of not emitting greenhouse gasses or other pollutants. It’s a strategy that’s worked in other states: Illinois, New York and — most recently — New Jersey.

David Fein, senior vice president of State Governmental and Regulatory Affairs at Exelon, which owns Three Mile Island Unit 1.

Jeff Brady/NPR

In Pennsylvania’s capitol in Harrisburg, opponents of new subsidies include anti-nuclear activist Eric Epstein with the watchdog group Three Mile Island Alert.

“If you consider nuclear green then you have to ignore high-level radioactive waste,” he says.

The federal government still doesn’t have permanent storage for that waste, and Epstein says there are the environmental costs of uranium mining to consider as well.

Others question giving nuclear plants public money that could be used for renewable energy instead.


Ann Bisconti does opinion research for the industry and says a lot fewer people oppose nuclear energy now than just after the Three Mile Island accident.

“People have moved, very much, into middle positions — they’re very mushy on nuclear energy,” Bisconti says. And she says that creates an opportunity to win them over by talking about the need for nuclear to limit the effects of climate change.

“You can’t get there without nuclear in the fuel mix,” says Chris Wolfe, who works as a generation planning engineer at South Carolina Electric and Gas and is on the board of of North American Young Generation in Nuclear.


Molly Samuel of WABE contributed to this report.

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Blowback Over Japanese Plan to Reuse Tainted Soil From Fukushima via Bloomberg

By Brian Yap

Japan’s plan to reuse soil contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant accident for agriculture is sparking something of its own nuclear reaction.

Residents and other critics don’t want any part of it.

“Pollutants contained in crops will surely pollute air, water and soil, thereby contaminating food to be consumed by human beings,” Kazuki Kumamoto, professor emeritus at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo told Bloomberg Environment. Contaminated crops “could trigger the release of radiation.”

The Ministry of the Environment released its latest plan June 3 for reusing the soil as part of a decontamination project associated with the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011. The accident occurred after a tsunami disabled the facility’s power supply and caused its emergency generators to fail, leading to meltdowns in three reactors, hydrogen-air explosions, and the release of radioactive material.

The ministry’s plan calls for using the soil to develop farmland in Fukushima Prefecture for horticultural crops that won’t be consumed by humans, the June 3 document said. It builds on the ministry’s 2017 plan to use the contaminated soil for road construction.


Safety issues

The reuse projects for road construction and agricultural land have met heavy opposition from residents living close to where such projects have been planned, according to Akira Nagasaki, environmental law partner at City-Yuwa Partners in Tokyo.

Key among their concerns are the changes Japan made to its benchmark.

Contaminated soil isn’t classified as nuclear waste under the law and therefore isn’t required to be treated by special facilities, Kumamoto said. That’s because Japan relaxed its benchmark, based on one set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, for determining at what level of contamination radioactive waste must be treated and disposed using more protective measures.

The international agency standard is 100 becquerel, a measure of radioactivity, per kilogram. Japan revised its limit to 8,000 becquerel per kilogram for nuclear waste and soil, exempting a greater amount of contaminated soil from strict treatment requirements and allowing it to be reused for public works projects and agricultural land.


Unfair Compensation

Another concern is how the government plans to compensate the owners of the land where these sites would be located.

Most of the more than 2,300 property owners in the area have refused to sell their land to the government for the storage sites because they don’t think they’re being fairly compensated, said Yoshiharu Monma, chairman of the Association of Landowners in Fukushima Prefecture.

The government agreed to compensate the owners for what the land was worth before the 2011 disaster if that property was to be used for the temporary storage sites, Monma said. But if the land has been designated for interim storage facilities, the government will only pay half of its value before the disaster.

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福島の全原発廃炉へ 第2の4基も再稼働断念 via 毎日新聞






 第1原発の廃炉費用は21. 5兆円に上る見込みだが、16年に基金を設立して費用を積み立てるなどの枠組みが決定した。【和田憲二、柿沼秀行】



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「放射能汚染水飲むしかなく、赤ん坊に母乳も」福島からの避難者 via 神戸新聞Next






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Hiroshima survivor urges University of Waterloo grads to find a cause to make their own via The Record

Nobel Peace Prize winner Setsuko Thurlow urges grads to find a cause to make their own

WATERLOO — Hiroshima bombing survivor and activist Setsuko Thurlow recounted the horrors she witnessed, and urged University of Waterloo students to take up the cause of forever banishing all nuclear weapons.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner spoke Wednesday at a convocation ceremony at the university, where she received an honorary doctor of laws degree.

Thurlow was 13 when a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, suddenly turning a “bright summer morning” into one of Japan’s darkest days, as the sky filled with smoke and dust from the mushroom cloud.


The victims who survived were convinced no human being should have to experience what they did that day, nor the unspeakable pain that haunts them still.

“Our mission was to warn the world about the danger of this ultimate evil,” she said.

Thurlow, who immigrated to Canada in 1962 where she earned a master’s degree in social work at University of Toronto, has dedicated her life to advocating for a ban on nuclear weapons.

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Japanese utility eyes scrapping 2nd Fukushima nuclear plant via Washington Post

TOKYO — The operator of a nuclear power plant in northeast Japan that suffered meltdowns seven years ago said Thursday for the first time publicly that it will start making concrete plans to decommission another plant in Fukushima that narrowly escaped the crisis.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings said it will decide on the timeline and other details before formally announcing the dismantling of four reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ni, or No. 2, plant, which has never restarted since the 2011 disaster.


An additional decommissioning in Fukushima would mean all 10 of TEPCO’s reactors in Fukushima would be dismantled eventually.

TEPCO has said a Fukushima No. 2 decommissioning would cost about 280 billion yen ($2.5 billion), in addition to the estimated 22 trillion yen ($200 billion) needed for the ongoing Fukushima No. 1 cleanup.


“We thought prolonging the ambiguity would hamper local reconstruction,” Kobayakawa said.

Uchibori welcomed the decision, saying TEPCO’s plan for Fukushima No. 2 decommissioning would help alleviate negative image and safety concern


In addition, its four reactors are more than 30 years old and would have required TEPCO to make huge investments to improve safety to get approvals for restarts.

TEPCO would be left with only Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata, northern Japan, to produce nuclear power. Local restart approvals for two of its seven reactors are pending.


Nuclear energy now accounts for less than 2 percent of Japan’s energy mix since most reactors were idled after the 2011 disaster. Only five reactors have since restarted.

While the government of pro-business Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is pushing to start up as many reactors as possible, restarts are coming slowly as anti-nuclear sentiment remains strong and regulators have stepped up screening process.

Still, the government says nuclear energy should account for 20-22 percent of Japan’s energy mix by fiscal 2030 in a draft energy plan that experts say as unrealistic.

Mari Yamaguchi | AP

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福島第二原発「廃炉の方向で具体的に検討」 東電社長 via 朝日新聞






全文は福島第二原発「廃炉の方向で具体的に検討」 東電社長

関連記事:福島第2原発廃炉、全4基を検討 東電、県内全10基に高い壁 via 47 News

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